A holiday nanny may sound like a luxury, but it’s not only the super-rich who take help on holiday – so what are the ground rules for hiring vacation childcare?

Words: Rachel Hogg

Illustration: Kai Nicholls

With end-of-term dates already passed or rapidly approaching, many parents have thought about packing for the summer holidays. But there may be one more thing you would love to take with you – adding considerably to the luggage allowance – a holiday nanny. While these may once have been for the super-rich, more families are considering this option. We spoke to both nannies on the ‘front line’ and Louise Taylor, consultant and director of long-established London nanny agency Kensington Nannies, to find out more.

There are a number of reasons why parents hire nannies to travel on holiday with them, say our insiders, but a key motivator is so that parents can have a holiday themselves. It’s a great solution for parents who need a little bit of extra support as this can give them the freedom to actually relax, finally – even finish that book or have an uninterrupted meal. The greatest advantage of hiring a holiday nanny over a babysitter is the flexibility to design your own schedule.

Holiday nanny jobs are often a divide and conquer situation, particularly where families are made up of younger and older children. Having an extra pair of hands means, for instance, parents might be able to take older children sightseeing or sailing while the nanny stays behind to look after the younger ones. It can be a valuable opportunity for parents to spend one-on-one time with children and ensure everyone’s having fun.

“Nanny-sharing is increasingly popular and can be great if you’re in one hotel or villa, or staying close to another family in one complex”

You may be thinking, this all sounds great, but how much is it going to cost? The average holiday nanny salary depends on the individual, the hours, how many children there are and supply and demand when you book, but around £200 per day for a sole-charge nanny is a typical ballpark. Bear in mind you will also be responsible for paying for everything related to the holiday period, including flights and travel insurance. It adds considerably to the cost of the holiday, but factor in the price of children’s clubs and evening babysitters – and the value of relaxation time for parents – and it can be a viable and flexible extra. Nanny-sharing between two families is, say our insiders, an increasingly popular choice and can be great if you’re in one hotel or villa, or staying close to another family in one complex.

Even with all the benefits help brings, for those who have never done so before the concept of taking a perfect stranger on a holiday can be daunting. So, Louise Taylor and our ‘nanny panel’ have shared their top five tips on holiday nanny etiquette to make this experience as stress-free as possible. 

Holiday nanny guide
A holiday nanny can be a godsend, provided you set the ground rules before you head off on vacation

1. Set things up for success

Where friction occurs between nannies and families on holidays it tends to be as a result of the two sides being on what Louise Taylor tactfully describes as, “different pages”. Her advice is to give clear information in advance about what you expect, the holiday schedule, and so on, to ensure a harmonious experience. It’s also really helpful to provide a thorough guide to your family’s rules and routines. “You wouldn’t hire someone to be your secretary and do your filing without showing them how your filing system works and it’s the same thing with a nanny,” says Louise Taylor.

2. Time off is vital

Because normal routines can vary so significantly on holiday, it is even more important to make sure your nanny is getting the appropriate amount of rest and time off and isn’t accidentally being overworked or starting to feel taken advantage of. Our insiders all suggest it’s important to agree on hours of work beforehand – a written contract is recommended – and then everyone is on the same page.

3. Be inclusive

Holiday nanny jobs can be lonely, particularly in more rural areas. Our nannies talk about the value of a car or access to public transport (even a lift to the local town during time off) so they can experience a bit of free time alone or meet up with people their own age. “Parents have each other for company, the children have each other, but the nanny has no one,” says Louise Taylor. The more inclusive and understanding you are, the more comfortable the holiday nanny is likely to feel.

4. Ensure home comforts

With a holiday nanny, you have a duty of care. This means making sure she or he is fed properly and has a comfortable bedroom. It’s usually written into the contract that you provide (and pay for) three meals a day and suitable accommodation. Louise Taylor also recommends asking about any dietary requirements and other food preferences before you go. Our nannies add that it’s a really good idea to give your nanny an opportunity to do some grocery shopping for themselves.

5. Nanny is not on holiday

This is the most important piece of holiday nanny etiquette. Very occasionally families believe a nanny should act like she’s grateful – indebted even – to be on their holiday. “Whether they are on duty in Mallorca or London, it makes no difference. Work is work, it’s not their holiday,” says Louise Taylor. Our nanny panel add that expecting your nanny to behave as if she’s lucky to be with you is bad form, however exotic the location.

Ultimately, a travel nanny can be an invaluable addition to your holiday, ensuring a fun and relaxing experience for the whole family. Louise Taylor’s advice for parents thinking of trying this for the first time is simple: be realistic about how much you can expect one person to do and think about how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Do this and your family escape with a nanny for support could be the best holiday yet. And just think, you might even be able to catch up on some sleep.

Kensington Nannies kensington-nannies.co.uk

Further reading: Go wild at Cornwall’s Gwel an Mor