Summer Family Moments

Hiring a Babysitter on Vacation, Part 1

summer vacations guide

hiring a babysitter on vacation

Photo by lilysmommy850

Unless your name is Angelina Jolie or Katie Holmes, who probably bring their personal nanny (or team of nannies) on family vacations so they can enjoy some alone time, you may be wondering how the heck you're going to get even a semblance of a break while away this summer. Unfortunately, the process is simpler than it sounds.

Genevieve Thiers, CEO of, knows all when it comes to this task -- she built a whole web business out of the concept. (BTW, CafeMoms can get 10 percent off their membership fee with the special promo code CAFEMOM10.) No matter which service you go with, chances are you'll be using the web. These tips can help your search:

Post a Job

The first step in the hiring process is to post a job to allow the most qualified sitters apply directly to you (with targeted cover letters!). Posting your job about a month in advance should be enough time for you to do the appropriate screening.

In your job posting, there are several important things you'll want to include:

  • The exact date(s) and time(s) you'll need a sitter. If you're not sure of the specific days and times you'll need a sitter, just include the dates of your trip along with a quick explanation of how you think you'll use the sitter, focusing on the general amount of time you think you'll need him/her for. Ex: "We'll most likely need someone for just one night that week for a few hours so we can go to dinner."  or  "We'd like someone to spend one full day with the kids so we can check out the local museums and art galleries."
  • The responsibilities your sitter will have. Let potential sitters know if they'll have to prepare any meals, take the kids on any outings, put children down for a nap or for bedtime, etc.
  • A rate range for the hourly pay. Remember: The hourly rate around you vacation destination may be different than the hourly rate where you live. So, before you state a rate range, check out Sittercity's Interactive Rate Calculator to get an idea of the average hourly rate where you'll be vacationing.
  • Extra info about your kids. Along with your children's ages, also include any quirks, special needs, allergies and general likes/dislikes to give sitters an idea of your children's personalities. Are your children very active? Are they content reading a book on the beach? Do they enjoy art projects? Providing this type of info helps potential sitters determine if they'd be a good fit for your family.

Screen the Candidates

Once you start receiving job applications, it's time to screen the candidates. One thing you'll want to look through is the cover letter. Look for caregivers who have clearly read your job description and are enthusiastic about the job. Use your instincts to select the top candidates whose cover letters impress you and make you feel comfortable.

Another element of the screening process is to review the candidates' profiles. Here, you'll be able to read reviews on them from other parents, get an idea of their experience level and any specialties they may have, examine their skills/credentials and see if they have a background check already on file. Look for sitters who took the time to fill out a complete profile, write a good bio, earned great reviews and posted pictures of themselves.

At this point, you should narrow your applicant pool to several sitters you'd like to contact for a phone interview. It's even better if you can conduct a video interview through a program such as Skype. Either way, don't skip this important step of interacting with the sitter!

Once you've done this, contact references who can give you even more insight into a sitter's personalities and capabilities. These references are typically listed on caregiver profiles, so gathering their email addresses and phone numbers is simple. Also at this stage, if the caregiver doesn't yet have a completed background check on his/her profile, run a background check yourself, either on or whatever service you are using.

It's up to you whether you choose your one perfect sitter after these screening steps or whether you choose 2-3 sitters to meet with once you arrive on vacation -- whatever makes you feel most comfortable!

Keep Communicating

To best prepare everyone for this child care arrangement, talk with your children to let them know what they can expect during the trip. After all, they'll be in an unfamiliar place, so communicating the schedules and routines for the trip can help them feel more at ease being away from the comfort of their own home while you're out.

Keep communicating with your vacation sitter as well. For example, it may be a good idea to get in touch with her one week before you arrive at your destination to confirm the dates, times and plans. You should also contact him/her when you arrive just to let him/her know that you're finally there and excited to meet!

Have a Mother's Helper Period

Whether you'll need a sitter for one night, one day or the entire time you're on vacation, it's a great idea to have a brief mother's helper period before the actual sitting job.

Once you arrive at your vacation spot, you can either have the sitter come over an hour earlier than needed or you can schedule a completely separate day for this mother's helper period -- all that matters is that you get to see the sitter interact with your children and make sure everyone's comfortable/happy with the arrangement.

The final step? Enjoy your day/night out!

Tomorrow, part 2 of the interview with Sittercity's Genevieve Thiers, talking about whether to screen all-inclusive child care services at hotels and resorts.

Do you use babysitters when you go on vacation, or is that just not in the budget for you right now? Do you rely more on family and friends than strangers?


child care, summer vacations, travel


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Kalis... KalisMommy

i am a registered sitter on Sittercity. I get jobs all the time....but i only accept local jobs and we have interviews first.

I remember as a teen i would go on vacation with families to baby sit. So that the parents could go out at night. Mostly we would go to FL to the Beach. (i was not with sittercity...this was ppl i knew)

RAGUm... RAGUmomof2

i hardly ever let my own family keep my child what makes something think i'd go on vaca and let some random joe blow keep them. yea ummmmm hello no!!! and if you're taking your kids with you on vaca to only get a babysitter then why didn't you leave them at home with family to start with?? i take my child [soon to be children] so that we can all do things TOGETHER, as a FAMILY.

Arkaidy Arkaidy

RAGUmom: That's quite a concept, isn't it, lol. :)

ariadit ariadit


Sitters has more experience than anyone in selecting suitable childcarers and arranging your babysitting appointments. Espcecially when you are on vacation.


RanaA... RanaAurora

ariadit, you know who I think has the most experience in selecting suitable childcarers?

ME.  I think I am the best person to select, screen, and judge someoen to watch my child.

nonmember avatar J

It's nice that so many people have family that they could leave their children with. Unfortunately, I can't get my parents or in-laws to watch our 4 little ones for more than the day (and it is often tough to get that). There are definitely times when it would be nice to get away for a romantic dinner but still be able to play with the kids on the beach or elsewhere during the day. I've never had the luxury to be able to do this on a vacation but I'd definitely consider it if I could afford it and find someone I could trust to do the watching.

skimom3 skimom3

I own and operate a childcare and a babysitting service in a resort town.  I am very busy and people use my service all the time.  I have also left my kids with a sitter while I was out of town for an extended period of time. I have three kids 3, 5, & 16.  While in Disneyland the 16 & I wanted to go on the coasters and older kid rides (btw I am a single mom) and so we got a sitter so we could do that. Another time I went golfing a couple of days during a 2 week vacation.  My kids had fun with the sitter and got a break from mom. 

So contrary to most posts on this article there are many reasons why you would leave your kids with a sitter while on vacation.  BTW I have never had any negative incidents with the sitters I send out, other than the occasional style differences or a sitter not cleaning up after they played with the child...annoying, but not life threatening.

Kids need to be kids and that means having their own space and time with out mom & dad hovering.  

nonmember avatar Amy

I have thought about hiring a babysitter while on vacation, but have never actually done it. When we were in Maui, it definitely occured to me that it would be nice to be able to go out and enjoy dinner together one night, and have a sunset cocktail, but such as it was, we would either all watch the sunset together, or if our daughter was fussy or whatever, we would take turns (romantic!) I would totally take advantage of a hotel or resort's options--and am hoping to be able to afford that at some point. My daughter has always had the same beloved babysitter, and is in full-time daycare. We wouldn't leave her with a random stranger, but I do believe that most babysitters in this world are probably decent people who just need to make a living like the rest of us. I think if you do your research, trust your instincts, it would all be okay.

coppe... copperswifey

no, if I am with family they might watch them, but otherwise we would do things as a family. That would be the whole point of taking the vacation :)

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