Holiday nannies and babysitters

Holiday nannies and babysitters

Sometimes when we are travelling we need an extra pair of hands to help look after the kids, whether that’s for a grown ups night out or for the duration of the holiday.

For many parents childcare is a really fraught subject, even at home, and entrusting your most precious things to another person’s care can be quite confronting. One thing to remember, though, from the kid’s perspective at least, is that the babysitter is all part of the adventure, and children generally have a great deal of fun with them.

There are various ways you can access temporary childcare when you’re away.  Here are our tips on finding a helping hand.


Most larger hotels and resorts have a directory of trusted and reliable English-speaking babysitters they use, who are reference-checked and work for the hotel on a regular basis. There is usually a set hourly rate that you have to pay (unfortunately it can often be quite expensive); sometimes you can bill this to your room, other times you pay cash directly to the sitter. If you know you will need babysitting services, contact the hotel or accommodation before you arrive so you are aware of the costs and conditions.

Some hotels have a relationship with a local agency and will refer you to it. If your accommodation doesn’t have a list of sitters, there’s likely to be a local agency that can help. Local tourism information offices should also be able to recommend reputable agencies. Plan ahead if you intend to use an agency, as they are not always able to help with last-minute requests.

Alternatively, search travel forums and Facebook pages relevant to your destination for recommendations of agencies, organisations and individuals who offer these services. The beauty of Facebook, internet forums and online customer feedback is that if someone has had a negative experience, you’re likely to know about it. Allow time to check references for an individual. If someone is reluctant to provide referees, don’t use them.

In some places, it’s quite difficult to find childcare; a babysitting economy simply doesn’t exist, usually due to cultural reasons whereby extended family take care of the children if parents can’t. There’s often an alternative though. Friends who travelled with two very small children in India couldn’t find a temporary sitter but ended up finding a highly trained maternity nurse who was willing and able to do the same job.

A word of caution: if your kids are uncomfortable with babysitters at home it’s unlikely they’ll embrace a complete stranger when you’re travelling. So if you think you will need babysitting services when travelling, practice at home first.

Holiday nanny

Another option for childcare is taking a nanny with you on holiday. If you’ve got your own nanny then obviously that’s easy to arrange, although you will have to pay for his or her travel and accommodation costs.

Holiday nannyHowever, for parents who don’t employ a nanny regularly there’s always the option of hiring one just for the duration of your holiday. Several agencies both in Australia and overseas (especially the UK) offer this service, and it can be money very well spent.

If you are travelling overseas, you’ll need to arrange and pay for the nanny’s travel and accommodation costs (although some agencies will book flights for their nannies and charge it back to you). There are stipulations about the nanny-child ratio, evening babysitting limits, days off and sharing rooms.

The beauty of a holiday nanny is that they understand both you and the children are on holiday, but they are working.

My husband and I were on a working holiday combining a family trip in England, France and Spain with our children, then three-and-a-half and 18 months. We were writing food and travel articles, and knew we’d be out at smart restaurants for meals on several occasions and wanted to have a look at some bars and casual eateries too.

While we don’t shy away from taking our kids to restaurants, we knew our children wouldn’t want to be stuck there for several hours on consecutive days, when they could be doing something much more fun, like playing in a park or on a beach (or sleeping).

So for this trip we organised a holiday nanny from the UK, through an agency called Holiday Nanny ( who specialise in providing exactly that. The agency selected her, we met up with her in London, and she flew to join us in France, travelling with us for week into Spain and back to Paris. And it was probably the best £400 investment I’ve ever made.