How to Find a Babysitter on the Road
Traveling with kids and getting in some adult activities -- especially at night -- requires outside help, that is, a baby sitter. I learned that on a trip to San Diego with my 7-month-old when he fell asleep at 4pm and we wanted one grown-up night out.
This isn't the first time my husband and I relied on outside help while on the road. For a trip to Washington, DC, we hired a local day care teacher, and we are now booking a trip to Europe in April and choosing hotels that offer baby-sitting services. But, finding a reliable sitter can be challenging. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you didn’t even know hiring a baby sitter was an option when you first started traveling with little ones. Here are several ways to find child care when traveling so you can still enjoy some adult activities during the trip.
Book a Hotel with Child Care Amenities
One of the easiest ways to ensure you have child care — especially internationally — is to book a hotel that touts its baby-sitting services. Family-friendly Martinhal Family Hotel & Resorts in Portugal, for example, provides help for children as young as six months. Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, offers in-room child care as an amenity. The Peninsula Beverly Hills has the Camp Peninsula upgrade, which includes a four-hour baby-sitting service featuring camp-themed games and a guided scavenger hunt.
Simply look at the website of the hotel you’re considering and check under amenities. Properties with a history of offering such services will have them listed. Also, researching family-friendly hotels is an excellent place to start if you’re not sure where you want to stay.
Of course, plenty of hotels offer additional amenities for babies and toddlers, too.
Ask the Hotel
Even if the hotel doesn’t specifically list child care as an amenity, many will help you find someone reputable from an outside source. The Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia partners with a local company — Your Other Hands — to help guests set up baby-sitting (as well as pet-sitting). Lotte New York Palace has a 20-year partnership with the Baby Sitters’ Guild, so that adults can enjoy a night out in New York City. Timbers Kauai helps resort guests book a private baby sitter through a local on-island company called Kauai Babysitting Co.
Any concierge should be able to suggest a service or recommend a local sitter based on your needs. You can always ask for the background of the individual to ensure you're comfortable leaving your child with a stranger.
Use the Kids Club
On-site kids clubs are great for leaving youngsters in a supervised setting while parents sneak away for a little while. For instance, Hyatt's Ziva KidZ Club in Los Cabos, Montego Bay, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta provides free, supervised activities for vacationers' children ages 4 to 12. Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas has the Explorers Club, where parents can choose a morning, afternoon or night session to keep children 3 to 12 years old entertained. That means you get time for that couples massage you’ve been thinking about or simply three hours for an uninterrupted date night. However, your "alone" time comes at a price. Baha Mar charges $62 per child for three hours of baby-sitting.
Kids clubs are typically found at larger resorts in tropical destinations, but you can find them at non-beach properties, too. Gstaad Palace in Switzerland, for example, has a kids club for children 5 to 12 years old.
Hire a Traveling Nanny
If you want someone to be on hand with the kids for more than a couple of hours during vacation, you might want to consider hiring a traveling nanny. Yes, you can book a vetted caretaker on a short-term basis to watch the children at a schedule that suits your needs. Adventure Nannies will pair you with someone who has been fully background-checked and assists with salary negotiation and an employment agreement.
While cost will vary depending on the length of the trip and hours, typically you’ll have to pay an hourly or lump-sum rate in addition to meals, accommodations and transportation costs. You also could tap nannies in your hometown to see if they’re between jobs. Some might enjoy a temporary gig and a change of scenery.
Bring a Family Member
I was a little nervous for my first international trip with my 10-week-old infant, so I brought along my mom to Portugal as a backup for my husband and I. We covered some of her costs in exchange for her baby-sitting so we could enjoy a few nights out. Ask a sibling, parent, aunt or uncle to see if anyone in the family might be up for taking a trip and playing nanny here and there. Sure, you might have to pay all or some of their costs, but you have confidence knowing your child is in the care of a loved one and not a stranger.
Ask for a Recommendation
Traveling to a destination where you know a friend, family member or friend of a friend? Ask them if they can recommend someone they trust to take on baby-sitting duty. I reached out to a cousin in DC who set me up with her daughter’s former day care teacher to watch our tot while we attended an evening family party. It’s a great way to get a vetted caretaker without the hassle of dealing with a concierge or local service.
Finding a baby sitter on the road may seem like a daunting task. We all want the best for our children, which can sometimes make it hard leaving them with a stranger. But, you can travel with your kids and find some time to yourselves. You just need to plan ahead and find child care services that work for your family's needs.
Have you used a baby sitter while on the road? How did it work out?
Need more resources for traveling with your kids? Here are a few: