What to Pay a Traveling Sitter

TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT REGARDING PAY

1) "I'm sticking them on a flight, dragging them away from their schedules and making them watch my kids in an unfamiliar location... shouldn't I pay more?"

2) "Right. They're coming with me to the beautiful beach, eating all the oysters in sight, learning about another culture... they're lucky to make it into my carry-on baggage."

PAY AND OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER

Don't tuck away your checkbook just yet: Sitters who come on vacation with you absolutely must be paid.

Remember, it's a vacation for you, but it's not for your sitter. The whole point of taking a sitter on the trip is so she can take on a lot of the grunt work. As you know, it's hard to lounge by the pool when you have two toddlers in your lap!

On summer vacations, you're asking your sitter to give up just one week out of her entire vacation. It doesn't seem like a big sacrifice, but trust me, when she gets those late-night phone calls from her pals who are enjoying some responsibility-free vacation time, she'll definitely feel the sting. And when it comes to a trip like Spring Break, it's even tougher since your sitter only gets one week of relief. Instead of relaxing in Cabo with 15 of her closest friends, she'll be running after the little ones with a big bottle of SPF 45.

What to pay: All that said, let's get down to business. When you're deciding what to pay, don't go with an hourly rate otherwise you'll make yourself crazy trying to calculate the daytime costs versus the nighttime costs. You'll also end up paying through the nose. Instead, I recommend a flat, daily rate of $120 to $200 per day.

A note about nannies: If you bring your live-in nanny with you, pay her the same weekly rate you pay when you're all at home—even if she'll be working fewer hours on vacation. In some cases, this will mean you're paying less than the recommended rate, which is fine because you are going to incur a few extra costs, like travel and food, by bringing her along. (More on that in a sec.) In other cases, this will be more than the recommended rate, in which case you'll have to eat the cost. Otherwise, you'll be lowering her standard rate, which can be viewed as an insult and may not make her very open to going on the vacation in the first place.

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