Do you have the necessary skills to become a traveling Adventure Nanny? Boston-based superstar travel nanny, Chelsea Fee, was generous enough to offer some tips to potential future travel nannies that she’s picked up along the way. With years of experience and a wealth of childcare know-how, Chelsea has worked in countries around the globe and has tons of priceless information to share!
1. What are your top three on-the-road activities to do with your nanny kids?
Entertainment in the car can be TOUGH! While some kids can easily watch an iPad, we try to stay away from too much screen time. DIY lapboards are a big hit for us because the kids can help us design them before we leave the house. Magna Tiles, coloring books, and printables for the car are our other big hits. Websites like The Measured Mom offer tons of free resources for on-the-go families.
2. What are three things that make being a travel nanny different than a long-term nanny?
The obvious difference is that when you sign the contract, you know that the job is temporary. You sign a contract for the duration of the trip. Sometimes it’s only a week but in my experience, it’s been months at a time. Being a travel nanny is far more hectic- especially if you’re moving around almost daily like we are. The feel, in general, is way more fast-paced! Long-term positions are more relaxed. You have a routine, and ONE set place. When you travel, you’re constantly trying to provide young children with some semblance of home.
3. Which of your personality traits come in handy when out on the road?
We all know it- being able to travel is a blessing, but it can also be a PAIN. I think that my sense of humor comes in handy most often (sometimes you just have to laugh at the situations you fall into while traveling). I find myself commonly lightening the mood by making others laugh. But my total obsession with being organized is perhaps the second most important. When you’re moving daily, you have to know where everything is, at every moment, especially with twin toddlers!
4. What is your process for researching great kid-friendly activities when traveling to a place you haven’t been before? How far in advance do you begin preparing? What are some resources that would be useful to other travel nannies?
Google and social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) are a traveling nanny’s best friends. I usually try to plan a few days out. When you’re a travel nanny, long-term planning isn’t always ideal, because you’re trying to live in the moment and keep the kids happy. However, I’ve known for a few months now that we’d DEFINITELY be living in Tokyo for two months, so I’ve made it a point to start looking for kid-friendly activities way sooner than I normally would. The best resources you can find are parent websites (in Boston, we use Mommy Poppins). Always look at local library programs. They usually have an entire calendar dedicated to kids’ activities.
5. What is your favorite memory from being a travel nanny?
I try to take something special away from every trip. I think that so far, my favorite memory has been watching kids from several nations and backgrounds playing together. It’s so touching to see a dozen kids who know NOTHING about each other run around a courtyard. They all speak the same language: play!
6. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being a travel nanny?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it can be HARD to focus on your own wellbeing while you’re away for a job like this. Seize the moments that you have to yourself and make sure you’re checking in with yourself, if you don’t, you could burn out quickly.
7. What should a travel nanny always have in their backpack?
Hand sanitizer and sunscreen are the two most important items that come to mind. I always keep water bottles, a few bandaids, face wipes, and snacks in mine, too! A portable charger for your phone is extremely helpful during long travel days.
8. How do you handle confidentiality and discretion when traveling with high-profile families?
If you are a nanny, then chances are you’re a pretty intuitive person. You should be able to sense when parents generally want you to step back a bit. If you’re working with a high-profile family, remember that there’s nothing they appreciate more than your loyalty to them. Loyalty is key in a relationship with parents who require confidentiality. I have found that when working with high-profile families, people might ask you questions. Just smile, be polite, and don’t give into the pressure. You were hired to protect the children. Long-term nannies often have a ‘transition period’ of 6-8 weeks to become fully trained and truly get to know their new nanny family and home.
9. Many travel positions are only a week or two long. How do you speed up the adjustment period to make the most out of your time with a family?
Stay in communication with the family regularly before the trip. For past jobs, I’ve texted with the family almost daily. They will most likely want to have you over, or go to dinner a few times before you hit the road together! Part of being a travel nanny is being okay with a small adjustment period.
10. What advice would you give a nanny who would like to become a travel nanny?
Find the right job with a family who you adore. Don’t jump into any job just to take a trip somewhere. Make sure that there is a mutual trust between you and your employers, and like with anything else- DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT! Opportunities will come and go. When you do find the right one, really put your heart into it, and take away everything you can from what you get to see and experience.