Who loves babysitters? WE DO! They make dating around the world so much easier!
We’ve been serious about babysitting for years. Having five young children taxes everyone about your life, in the best of ways, and getting a break is crucial to success.
Our friends often laugh and are amazed at not only how often we use babysitting to date, but also our ability to find them. Many, many times I’ve been able to hook up a friend with a sitter for a last-minute item.
Table of Contents
- 1 Finding a Babysitter on Vacation
- 2 Can You Really Find a Babysitter On Vacation?
- 3 I’ve Found Babysitters in Dozens of Countries
- 4 Why Is It Worth The Effort To Find a Babysitter on Vacation?
- 5 “I Could Never Leave My Kids With a Stranger, Especially in a Foreign Country!”
- 6 Finding a Travel Nanny Domestically Versus Internationally
- 7 How to Overcome a Language Barrier
- 8 Tips for Selecting a Travel Babysitter
- 9 Using an Agency to Hire a Babysitter
- 10 Hotels With Babysitting Service
- 11 Overcoming Your Worst Fears About a Vacation Babysitter
- 12 Additional Reading
Finding a Babysitter on Vacation
You’re taking a vacation. You’re bringing the kids. Welcome to family travel!
In case you are new here, we’ve been traveling full-time with our five kids for over two years! Many factors make this possible to maintain, like how we afford it, how we worldschool around the world, etc, but a crucial element for us is getting some adult time together!
Sometimes a vacation really isn’t going to be a vacation without a date or two. No judgment here: we 100% agree.
Can You Really Find a Babysitter On Vacation?
Short answer: absolutely.
Long answer: Yes, but it takes some time. Don’t worry. You’ve got this! You can still accomplish dating while you’re around the world. You just need some tips and tools in your toolbelt.
I’ve Found Babysitters in Dozens of Countries
The first time we used a sitter on vacation was when we spent a month in Florida. I networked like crazy at church and found a college student home for a semester that was happy to earn some money.
Getting out on a date when we’d been with the kids 24/7 for three weeks was so nice. It made us both love the vacation again (vacations with kids can get overwhelming and exhausting real fast!).
Since then I’ve found and used babysitters, even for one overnight, in countries ranging from Hong Kong, Japan, Bali, Thailand, Portugal, France, and New Zealand. Notice most of those countries don’t have English as the native language.
Why Is It Worth The Effort To Find a Babysitter on Vacation?
For me, when I can break up a vacation like this, it is the best of all worlds.
We’ve left our kids at home for couples trips and we’ve left our youngest kids for older-kid trips. However, none of these scenarios are quite complete.
When we leave the kids on a couples trip, I LOVE it, but I also miss them almost immediately. We talk about them constantly. When we leave the littles, all of us miss them. We love what we can do during the day activity-wise, but we want to see the other kids.
Meet the babysitter! They can give you all three vacations in one package!
It’s like going to a resort with a kids club. Have you ever tried one? It’s the best! You get your couples trip and your kid memories and time with the big kids all in one. The flexibility is amazing. I promise it is the best kind of vacation (and we’ve obviously tried a few!).
“I Could Never Leave My Kids With a Stranger, Especially in a Foreign Country!”
I understand. I really do. Leaving your kids is like any new activity. Intimidation is high at first… your mind races with all the horrible possibilities of what could go wrong.
You leave them and it’s incredibly painful at first. Then that high creeps in of being able to hold a converstion without inturruption. You remember why you’re together in the first place! You fall in love all over again.
The more you do this exercise, the more you see its value. Eventually, it becomes necessary to your relationship health. Vacations shouldn’t be a drag on your couple’s emotional bank account and let’s be honest: putting kids in a new environment, stretching their limits and yours often leads to short tempers and jabs at your spouse.
Practice before you go! What fabulous homework, right? In this article, I discuss babysitter tips in general and some of the excuses I hear from other parents.
Finding a Travel Nanny Domestically Versus Internationally
You’ll probably feel more comfortable finding a vacation babysitter within your home country. Give this a try first!
The Best Tools for Babysitters in The USA
A lot of this info is covered in my other babysitting tips post here, but let’s recap some of the best ways to find vacation babysitters in the USA:
- Google. Always your best friend while traveling, try just searching “babysitter Chicago” or whatever city you are in and see what comes up! Babysitting agencies are plentiful and provide an amazing option. Often these people are pre-screened, with background checks, by the agency. Agency fees differ.. some charge you upfront and you pay the sitter directly. Some collect the whole fee before the sitter ever comes. Use the “contact us” on their site and explain your needs.
- Facebook. Babysitting Facebook groups can be a great resource. Often you need to join this ahead of time, so try to do this before your travels. Post about your needs.
- Care.com. My personal favorite for finding sitters. You can post to different zipcodes and we’ve found amazing sitters on here! See my tips for using it in this post. The exception when traveling is you can’t meet in person to interview, usually, so do a video call instead.Have a couple in the runnings and let them know that. If you don’t like the first interview, go with another.
- Other sites and apps. I haven’t used these sites personally, but this post from Fatherly.com lists some great options like Sittercity, Helpr, and Sitter.
Our Experience Hiring a Vacation Babysitter at Disneyland
We used Care.com when we went to Disneyland and found a wonderful nursing student who was so happy to come babysit.
Anaheim has lots of colleges nearby and a plentiful amount of babysitters. Many of them have already been the “vacation sitter” and know exactly what you want. Let them enjoy the hotel amenities with the kids. In our case, we were in an Airbnb and it was perfect also.
We went to Disneyland at night on dates, took our older kids for the “big kid rides” without having to rideshare, and enjoyed some time all together with the kids as well. Perfect vacation!
The Best Ways to Find a Babysitter in a Foreign Country
Traveling outside the US? Try these platforms when trying to find a travel nanny.
- TripAdvisor is your new BFF. You can find a ton of info on there, from babysitting services to where to eat. We’ve found it to be the best so far. Search for your destination and babysitter. It’s almost a guarantee someone else has posted about this already and will have a review of their experience.
- Go to Facebook. You might see a name in your TripAdvisor comments, or just try it directly. A lot of foreign babysitters will get themselves a FB page for people just like you to find them. We had the BEST nanny in Bali, Maya, and you can see her FB page here. We miss Maya!
- Google for agencies. It takes a bit more reading and digging, but you can find them. Trust your gut!
Note: I believe Care.com is also branching into Europe. I am SURE that there are also other sites similar. I’ve just never used them.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post the first time, I’ve successfully found two additional websites for finding babysitters internationally. One is Aupair.com and the other (only for Japan) is carefinder.jp. However, Carefinder is worldwide on other web addresses.
Our Experience With Foreign Babysitters
For Bali, Singapore and Hong Kong, I found names of individuals or agencies on TripAdvisor first.
I saw comments about a babysitting service called Debbie’s Nannies Bali on FB. Facebook is also a GREAT way to get in touch with services when you are international.
WhatsApp is a must when international so you can keep in touch with your sitter.
Hong Kong was our most difficult experience as no one there has more than two kids! Our first sitter from an agency stressed out too much and basically quit, so the service found us another sitter that was great. In all cases, kids were safe and well taken care of.
How to Overcome a Language Barrier
Let me put your mind at ease right now… English is spoken all over the world. We are incredibly spoiled to have our native tongue so prevalent. After traveling for a while, I realized English is the bridge between Europe and Asia… the tourist and tourist providers use English to bringe all language gaps. Phew!
We have never had a hard time finding a sitter that speaks English. It is much more common than you would expect!
This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to teach your kids some manners words in the foreign language: hello, thank you, goodbye.
Tips for Selecting a Travel Babysitter
Similar to my tips in this post, here are a few guidelines I use when selecting a sitter myself. Note with an agency, they will select a sitter for you.
- Notice how well they’ve filled out their profile, if applicable, and any reviews on their profile.
- Ask for references! All babysitters should be able to provide this. It can even be a letter from a past client.
- Text or call them, if you can, and feel out the connection.
- Be upfront with what might be difficult about your job. I’m clear that my kids are a lot of energy, are loud and there are a lot of them!
- Ask for their past experience especially as it relates to your family. Have they watched that many children before?
Using an Agency to Hire a Babysitter
I find a lot of comfort in hiring an agency that I’ve already read reviews about. These people are screened and hired to do this job… they are not the sister our someone you might know.
What To Expect From An Agency Babysitter
A word about these nanny services:
- They are expensive. It’s just the market. If you can find someone, know someone, etc. yourself, it will be cheaper. However, we usually don’t have time or the network to do so.
- Many require the exact hours you want in advance. This is annoying for me as I would like to be more flexible. My family requires flexibility. However, in Asia, babysitting is not a normal thing! So I get it. In Bali, we could commit to a certain number of minimum hours and get a dedicated nanny, which was fabulous.
- Many require a deposit upfront. This can range from maybe half of your expected hours to 10%. In Bali, I had to download a new money transfer app (similar to Venmo) for international transfers. In Hong Kong, I paid a PayPal deposit (and yes, they charged a CC fee).
- Sometimes you are paying the sitter cash and sometimes the service is. I have no idea how much the service takes off the top, but I hope it is fair.
- Sometimes the sitter has a great idea of what to do! In Bali, many have worked for hotels with kids club. They would come with toys, crafts, etc. It was amazing! Our favorite, Maya, was enough to convince me we should travel with her full-time. She was so calm, so nice, yet got the job done.
- Sometimes they are totally clueless. The first sitter we used in Hong Kong… I’m honestly not sure if she’s ever babysat before. Thankfully, we were only using her for the little two kids. She managed but didn’t do what I asked. We left her money for take-out food (she never got it), we gave her suggestions to walk to a park nearby (she was terrified to leave the apartment). When she was coming back, she finally admitted she was totally overwhelmed and could NOT do all five kids. I appreciated her honesty and worked it out with the service to get someone else.
- You have to pay for the hours you’ve committed to even if you don’t use them. This hurts sometimes… we scheduled a sitter for Valentine’s for 14 hours. We were so EXCITED. A whole day together. I had all the food prepped, activities, ideas. Then the kids got horribly sick. We ended up having to still pay the money and sit at home, cleaning up vomit, taking naps, and being sad. Oh well. Just know that in advance because life happens!
- Most want to cook in your home. If in a hotel room service would be the best. I buy toys for babysitting days in the new place and plan to just leave them when we go. Have things to do (unless you are OK with TV all day, which also works!).
- Some can’t do many activities with your kids. In Singapore, the Terms and Conditions stated they WOULD NOT take your kids swimming or out to a park. Pretty much nothing outside the room or home.
- Overall, they are super nice and do a good job. Even if the sitter is a little clueless, the kids are happy and safe when I get back, which is the bottom line. I’ve made memories and had a break and life is great.
Hotels With Babysitting Service
We love ourselves a hotel with a kids club! We often used this as a “vacation” during our full-time travels.
With today’s Covid environment, this will be much more hit or miss! However, our favorite hotel for babysitting is Club Med. They run an all-day program, feed your children, are super baby friendly and have wonderful staff!
We visited the Dominican Republic location and loved every second of the vacation and the amazing kid’s club.
Sometimes hotels will offer babysitting services as well. We’ve never used this and when I’ve shopped it the rates have been astoundingly high. I’ve always felt bad confining my children and a babysitter to our hotel room for a day!
Things to note on kid’s clubs:
- Hours are set similar 9-12 and 1-5. Sometimes hours will go past dinner, but often they will not.
- Very young children may not be accepted or need an appointment with an extra fee. On a cruise, Grace (age 1) had to have an appointment each day and we paid extra for her. Most kid’s clubs are 5 years of age and older.
- Typically you need to bring a bag of supplies with your child each day with all items labeled.
- They are SUPER fun for kids! Our kids LOVE them
Also know that some luxury hotels or resorts include a nanny! We stayed at this Jamaican resort and all houses include a cook, maid, and nanny. As you can expect, it was one of our best vacations ever. The nannies (we had 2) came with us on day excursions if we wanted and loved our kids.
Overcoming Your Worst Fears About a Vacation Babysitter
Ultimately, the best things to do is to just give it a try. Hire a babysitter to come with you for a day of your vacation and get to know them. This may ease your fears about leaving your children with them.
- Use Whatsapp to connect with your sitter if you can’t use your cell phone
- Having something like my Babysitting Binder from this post would go a LONG way for any travel babysitter as well.
- Prep your kids well for what to expect. Don’t tell them about the babysitter for the first time when he or she arrives!
- Having some new toys or a favorite show gives the babysitter some tools in their toolbelt.
- Enjoy yourself! Don’t spend all the time away worrying about the kids. Assume they are having a blast and you are probably right!