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jun 24 2013

Confessions of a Travel Nanny

Although getting paid to see the world (while taking care of somebody else's kids) may sound like a dream job, we asked a professional "travel nanny" to spill the beans about what this Faustian bargain is really all about.

Getting there. The client fully pays for my airfare to the destination—I often don't even know what they look like until we're all at the hotel together. But some want me to travel with them, so they'll fly me to their city first, and then we'll all go together. Obviously, hiring me is not cheap, even though my rates are pretty reasonable.

You have to like the parents, too. I usually have no problem with the kids, but you have to be able to get along with the parents. My main priority is lessening the stress of traveling as a family. At the airport, I handle the kids. I make sure they burn off some energy before the flight, go to the bathroom, etc. Whatever makes things easier for the mom and dad.

Coach class, please. Most parents usually sit in business or first class while I sit in coach with the kids, which is fine with me. I find that kids behave better when they can't actually see their parents, so I encourage them to go up front. Sometimes we all fly in first class together, but believe it or not, I don't like it. I feel like everyone is going to hate me, so I stress out more than usual trying to make sure the kids are well behaved.

A typical day. I usually let the parents sleep in and I'll handle breakfast and a morning activity. (The kids sleep in my room, so the parents can stay out late without worry.) Sometimes I have the kids all day, and sometimes we all go sightsee­ing together. Then I'm just an extra hand. I might even walk a few paces behind the family at times so they don't feel like I'm intruding-if that's what they want me to do.

Nothing personal. If you're a sensitive person, this job is not for you. You need to always think about the parents first, even if they have difficult personalities. You have to be professional, and not let your feelings get hurt. They're traveling with some­one they don't know very well, and that can be awkward. But they've invested a lot of money in this trip, and your priority is to help create wonderful memories for them, not feel bad for yourself.

BONUS: A Travel Nanny's Top 5 Tips on Traveling with Tots:

If you're bringing headphones so they can watch movies on the plane, let them practice wearing them at home so they get comfortable with the idea. A lot of the younger ones are very reluctant to wear them.

If you have more than one child and only one tablet or DVD player, buy a splicer before you leave so it can handle two sets of earphones.

Before you leave for the airport, tell the children, "It's time to put on our good manners and throw bad behavior in the trash!" It sounds silly, but if your toddler gets fussy, you can say, "Did you forget to put that meltdown manner away? Let's show him who's boss!" They need to own their behavior.

Ease fears about losing the children by getting the "Mommy I'm Here" locator. Once a kid is 30 feet out of range, the locator will alert you. If you don't see them, click a button and an alarm will sound so you can audibly track them. mommyimhere.com

TALK TO US! Have you ever hired a travel nanny? Would you consider it for your next trip?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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