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Should you hire a travel nanny for your next plane flight?

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No matter how confident a mom is at home, the thought of flying with babies or small children strikes terror in the hearts of single moms. What if everyone cries? What if everyone cries, and everyone on the plane glares at you? What if everyone cries, somebody poops, and you cause an international incident that causes the plane to turn around mid-flight? How are you going to get all that luggage and your kids from point A to point B? Here’s an idea you may not have considered: Hiring a “travel nanny” just for your flight.

Travel nannies are paid caregivers who travel with the families who hire them. Most travel nannies go to the vacation spot with parents and kids and stay there through the duration of the trip to provide care, but if you’d prefer to just pay someone to fly with you (and then fly back), you can negotiate this type of deal with the many caregivers available for travel.

Want to know how? Here’s the drill.

Define your needs

Do you want someone to meet you in your city, accompany you on the plane, and then fly back once you’ve gotten to your destination, reversing the process on the way home? Would you prefer to have that nanny come with you for part or all of your trip? Would you like the nanny to stay with you in your vacation lodging? You can have just about whatever you want, if you have the money to pay for it, so don’t be afraid to outline exactly what you need.

Consider costs

Travel nannies are expensive — they tend to make anywhere from $15-$30 an hour, meaning costs can run from $300 to as high as $800 a day if you pay for all 24 hours. But most travel nannies don’t expect to be paid their hourly rate 24 hours a day, so there’s a lot of room to negotiate. You’ll have to pay for your nanny’s travel expenses, of course, and you may want to think about offering a lump sum per day that you’ll need her services, or offering to pay her hourly rate for all the hours you’ll need her help, plus travel expenses — that includes lodging, food, and airfare.

By the way, it’s common for travel nannies to fly coach with the kids while parents fly in first class. If that’s the setup you want and can afford, don’t be afraid to say so.

Find a travel nanny in your area

Travel nannies are catching on, so if you live in or near a metropolitan area, you should have no problem finding an agency with employees who specialize in travel. Start by searching “travel nanny” and your city. Care.com has a whole area of its site devoted to travel nannies, nationwide agency Quality Nanny Services offers travel nannies in many areas, as does Adventure Nannies and Nanny Authority, to start you off with a few nationwide resources. And naturally, asking around your group of parent friends oftentimes yields great, trustworthy suggestions.

Discuss expectations and negotiate hours

You’ve thought carefully about what you want and what you’re willing to pay for it — now contact a few of the travel nannies and make your offer. Some may have a counter-offer; you may want to come into the conversation with a range of options, or a range you’re willing to pay, just so you have flexibility to accommodate the nanny you choose.

Some questions you may want to ask a nanny are:

  • Is she certified in CPR and first-aid?
  • How would she keep your children occupied on the plane?
  • What would she do if a flight were canceled or delayed?
  • Has she worked for families on trips before? How were those experiences?
  • Does she have any issues picking up children or back pain?

If you want the nanny to accompany you on your trip, you may want to ask:

  • What does she like to do on vacations?
  • How does she find activities for children in new cities?
  • What would you do on a rainy day in a new city?
  • What does she pack in her suitcase to keep children entertained?

Write a Contract

Just so you’re all on the same page, quickly write up a contract that specifies what you and the nanny have agreed upon. Both of you should read and sign before you go anywhere or write any checks. Care.com has a good sample nanny contract that can help you get started. Make sure the contract spells out how much the nanny will get paid, what hours she’s expected to work, what you’re paying for (and not paying for), where she’s staying (if she’s staying on the trip), and who pays for meals/groceries?

Don’t forget to have fun — the main purpose of a travel nanny is to give you a break on a trip that should be fun and relaxing. Good luck finding your extra set of hands!