Things To Know

5 Ways To Hire a Vacation Babysitter

There are times when you need to get away from your kids when you’re getting away on vacation. You might have a wedding or other social obligation. Or you might just need one dinner where no one has to be told that chocolate pudding isn’t finger food.

Whatever the reason, finding someone you trust to get your kids fed and put to bed isn’t easy in a town you don’t know. Here are some tricks we’ve learned for finding a vacation babysitter.

1. Plan ahead:

Start the process before you leave home so have time to check out any agency or follow up on references for any independent sitter you plan to use.

If it’s convenient, try to meet the sitter even briefly before they show up to babysit (or talk to them from home via Skype). You can check the sitter out and the kids will have a chance to meet him her before the babysitting night.

2. Start with people you know:

This is one of those situations where a posting a question on Facebook post can work wonders. You might work associates, friends of friends, or in-laws of in-laws who live locally and have sitters they use or teenage kids of their own, or who might know someone who does.

These kinds of personal references will go a long way toward putting you at ease as you head out the door for the evening in a new city.

3. Ask Your Hotel

Many hotels provide babysitters or will refer you to a local agency, but they rarely mention this on their websites. Call the concierge and ask if they provide sitters or referrals.

If they use an agency, ask for the name and number so you can check the agency out, ask questions and get references from other parents who have used it. If you’re satisfied you can book directly or go through the hotel when you arrive.

If they have sitters on staff ask how they hire them and what experience, training or security checks they require. In some smaller hotels, sitters might simply be members of the hotel staff doing double duty.

Our Lodging Guide has baby-sitting information, too.

Some resort hotels and many cruise ships offer a “date night,” where kids are given dinner and participate in supervised group activities like watching a children’s movie. But the hotels might only do it once a week and you’ll want to find out how old the kids have to be to participate. Usually they have to be potty trained and perhaps even school-age.

4. Look into area colleges:

Some colleges, like Barnard in New York City, have a service that makes it easy for students to find babysitting jobs, both steady and occasional. The best way to find them is to Google the place you’ll be visiting with the words babysitter and college or university.

The colleges might have some paperwork for you to fill out and you need at least a few days for students to spot your post. And keep in mind the colleges simply post sitters and jobs they don’t vet their students; so be sure to interview the sitter by phone or skype and checking references.

5. Agencies

If you aren’t staying at a hotel, ask the agent who manages your rental or the local visitors bureau if they can recommend an agency. You can also check out local parent bloggers and reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook for a local recommendation.

If you go this route, check the agency’s website for its standards and processes. Ask for references to make sure the agency delivers on its promises. Are the sitter’s trained in CPR? Do they have a minimum education level? What kind of background check does the agency do? And does the sitter they send over live up to these promises?

If you’re planning to try a service like UrbanSitter that has a national presence, you might want to try them out at home first to make sure you’re happy with their process and the person they send over. For example, can you ask for the sitter to have experience with a certain age and will the agency follow through on that request?

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