It is likely in most but not all Nanny jobs that we are asked to accompany the family on holiday and look after our charges. This should be something that has been made clear from the commencement of your post. It should be written into your contract if you are expected to travel and in most cases how frequently throughout the year. I personally find that this is a wonderful part of our job but I know not all of Nannies will agree with me. I like to embrace the opportunity to travel to new places I may not have travelled to before and I find travelling with my charges is a great way to do thi
It is essential that you are flexible and can adapt to your new surroundings when travelling as a Nanny. It is also important to note when travelling with a family that it is their holiday and not yours. You are still working and must remain professional at all times. However from my experience I have found when travelling with employers and my charges that everyone is more relaxed.
Before the trip -
Communication is key in all aspects of our job and this especially applies to travelling. Make sure, especially if you are feeling slightly apprehensive about travelling with your charges that you speak to your employers before you leave so that you are both clear about everyones expectations for the trip. Find out whether or not your employers are expecting you to work longer hours than your normal hours and if babysitting in the evenings or overnights will be required. I often find myself working many extra hours and some overnights whilst travelling with my job which is absolutely fine with me but I know this is not the case for everyone. I always log my extra hours and they are submitted into my overtime pay for the following month. It is also important to point out to your employers if you are flying long haul that these extra hours are also work hours for you and they will need to be added to your overtime.
Some employers prefer to pack their children’s suitcases for themselves so make sure you have discussed this so you know what your role is here. However most of us work for busy employers who will appreciate us packing the suitcases for our charges. I always lay out the children’s clothes, toiletries, toys, books and anything else that I think we will need and ask my employer to check through the pile incase there is anything they feel needs adding or taking away before finalising the packing. I also find it useful if I’m packing the suitcase for more than one charge to keep the children’s clothes separate. Suitcases with numerous sections are always great for this. A further note on this is that if you are due to get to your destination late at night it is a good idea to put some nightwear and essentials for bedtime on the top so they are easy to access.
Lizzie’s packing essentials -
Enough milk formula, nappies and wipes for the trip and some extra incase you can’t buy your regular items abroad, (don’t forget swim nappies if you will be swimming). Sun cream which you know works well on your charges skin. Child friendly insect repellent if heading somewhere that this may be necessary. Cups, bottles and cutlery if travelling with young children. Medicine - I always pack a bottle of Nurofen and Calpol when travelling. I find the pouches are great to put into your hand luggages but remember to pack a spoon! First aid kit of essentials including a thermometer. Baby monitor (remember both parts). Bag for dirty laundry.
Hand luggage -
A nappy bag works well with babies. Small pull along suitcases are fun and practical whilst travelling with toddlers and young children. They will enjoy pulling it along and some even feature a seat that your charge can sit on and push themselves along. I find once they get to 6 years+ a fun rucksack that they can carry for themselves works well.
Familiar snacks for the journey. Activity books, small toys (quiet ones) and books.Spare clothes (a good tip is to put each child’s clothes into separate zip lock bags so you can grab them in a hurry). Make sure if travelling long haul with a baby or toddler to pack a spare set of clothes for yourself. A sling, so you can be hands free especially when getting on and off the plane. Child friendly headphones for the aeroplane - When travelling with younger children you can download their favourite films, tv shows and games onto a portable device. With older children the inflight entertainment games and films will come in handy but it is important to monitor what your charges are watching as they will have access to everything.
Make sure you leave plenty of time getting to the airport with children. It is always worth doing your research and finding out if there is children’s play area’s in the terminal. This will be a good place for you to take the children to burn off some energy before the flight.
Lizzie’s top tip for take off and landing
Feed babies their milk on take off and landing if possible to help reduce the air pressure discomfort in their ears. Lollipops are comforting for older children during take off and landing to help with the air pressure.
Car seats and Push chairs
I have always found that it is easier and a lot cheaper to take your own car seats whilst travelling. Your charge and you will be familiar with the car seat and you won’t have to worry about the car hire company running out of the seat that you have pre booked.
Whilst travelling with older children I have still taken their booster seats. It is important to check and make a note of the car seat safety guidelines of the country you're travelling too.
Nowadays there is a wide range of push chairs which you are able to take onto the plane as hand luggage. It is always worth checking with the airline and their hand luggage guidelines as each airline is different just to make sure that they allow onboard the push chair you intend to travel with. As previously mentioned I have always found it beneficial to carry a sling onboard the plane.
When our employers are travelling
On a separate note a lot of us work for hard working employers who travel a lot with their jobs and spend time away from their children. Modern technology is great but sometimes it isn't always convenient to speak on the phone, Skype or FaceTime. It can sometimes be upsetting for the children and an all round stressful experience for everyone. A tried and tested method that we use for keeping in touch is to send one of the child’s cuddly toys away with Mummy or Daddy on their work trip. Mummy, Daddy or whoever is away travelling can send a daily photo and update of what the chosen cuddly toy has been up too. In my current family we find this a really fun way of keeping in touch.
Overall I find travelling as a Nanny is usually a fun, rewarding experience. We all know the importance of routine with babies and children nevertheless I find especially with older children that holidays are enjoyable as everyone is more relaxed.