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8 ways to find child care on vacation

Mark G. McLaughlin - MCT • May 3, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Family vacations are great for bonding with loved ones as you get

away from your normal routines. But a family vacation can sometimes feel

like no vacation at all for parents chasing after kids. Parents need

time to themselves, and not just for romance, but to relax, reconnect

and revisit what brought them together. The kids, too, often need a

break — time without the watchful worrying eyes of parents, time to be

kids and time to be with other kids. Even if it’s for just a few hours

while you and your partner go out dinner, you’ll all appreciate the time


Travel experts like Cindy Richards, editor-in-chief of

TravelingMom.com, Shelly Rivoli, award-winning author of “Travels with

Baby,” and Paul Mulholland, of Troy’s Travel Agency in Great Barrington,

Mass., share their tips for getting a vacation from your kids during a



Lots of hotels and resorts offer access to babysitters, day care and

kids clubs. “When you’re traveling with little ones,” Richards says,

“research the babysitting services offered through the resort. The extra

time it gives you as a couple will more than make up for the extra time

you spend researching.”

Rivoli concurs, saying: “I recommend making your plan before you go,

to make sure you’ll have a caregiver who meets your criteria and will be

available when you need her.”

Even if you’re only leaving your kids for an hour or two, keep safety

in mind. Ask the hotel where they find the sitters, how they interview

them and if they run background and reference checks. Do they watch the

kids in your room, a child care facility or other spot in the hotel?

Interview the actual babysitter yourself and take a look at the

facilities to confirm they are clean and safe. (Keep in mind the 7

questions to ask when touring a day care center: http://bit.ly/XFRAzH )


Like hotels, most cruise ships offer child care or supervised

activities for children. With the kids safe and nearby, parents can get

some worry-free alone time. Mulholland is a fan of the Disney Cruise

Line, which offers lots of options for young kids, teens and tweens.

Since some cruises have minimum traveling ages, make sure your little

ones are old enough to hop aboard.


Already have a regular nanny? Take her along. Ask if she would be

willing to come with you on your trip to watch the kids part of the

time. Negotiate a salary that works for everyone — maybe a lump sum for

the entire vacation. Talk about what is expected: what hours will she

work, will she have her own room, what should she do with the kids, etc.

Keep in mind that this option can get pricey, as you have to pay for

her travel, lodging and food expenses. But in the right situation, it

can be a lifesaver.


If your hotel doesn’t offer a service or you prefer to do the vetting

yourself, hire your own temporary sitter for your trip. Use a site like

Care.com to search for sitters who live in that area. Post a job in the

ZIP code where you’ll be traveling (use your home address when you sign

up and create an account).

Mention in the job title and description that you’re looking for a

vacation sitter for your kids and what you want the person to do. If

want someone to watch your kids for a few short hours, a babysitter is

your best bet. If you want someone to be with your kids for a longer

period, take them sightseeing and plan activities, look for a part-time

nanny. Make sure you still interview potential sitters (maybe do a Skype

video chat), do background checks (available through Care.com) and talk

to references before you hire anyone.


Not all families can afford a resort, however, and not all parents

can afford or are comfortable turning over responsibility to strangers.

Richards has a simple suggestion for families in that situation: “Book a

hotel room with a balcony, so you and your spouse can take a bottle of

wine out to the ‘veranda’ once the kids are asleep.” This is an

inexpensive and easy option for getting at least a little alone time

while vacationing with children.


“When the kids are old enough (generally six-plus) to be in their own

room,” suggests Richards, “book a suite, condo or house swap — anything

that keeps you in the same space, but gives the parents a separate room

(with a door that locks) and gives the kids their own space (with a TV

to keep them engaged).” You’ll be able to watch over your kids, but

still enjoy some privacy.


Make this a real family vacation and bring grandma and grandpa along.

According to a poll, 40 percent of families have gone on a

multigenerational vacation. In an era where many grandparents live in

different cities, states or time zones than their grandchildren, a trip

can forge bonds far stronger than a simple holiday visit to grandma’s

house. Plus, grandparents make great babysitters.


Family camps have gone beyond cabins in the Catskills a la “Dirty

Dancing” or dude ranches of the sort often made fun of on sitcoms. Many

theme parks and camps have baby care centers and babysitting services.

They also offer lots of options for family fun — including kids-only

activities and entertainment.

With these tips, you can have the perfect vacation, complete with

ample family time and just enough “alone time” with your partner to

remind you both how much you enjoy one another’s company.

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