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FAQ: Childcare Abroad

Do you remember when you used to go on holiday and get up at 10am, panicking only because you might have missed the buffet breakfast.  Then you’d spend the day rotating between the pool, beach, bar with some naps in between.  Then along came kids and suddenly you’re the only people at the breakfast buffet at 6:45am.

Holidaying with young kids can be exhausting but there are ways to get some down time to yourself. Here Georgina talks you through your options:

Hotel Crèche / Kids Club

When they are well run, these can be a great, affordable way to get some free time.  Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Age range.   What ages do they accept and are they all put together or in separate groups? (ed note – phone the hotel to double-check minimum age of kids club.  My friend stayed at a hotel over Christmas where they said the min. age was 5 despite the website saying 4 and her son wasn’t able to use the kids club)
  • Staff.  What training do they have and what is the ratio of staff to children?  Do they speak English?
  • Activities.  Are they happy to follow your routine, if you have one?  Will they feed your children, and will they do it to your timetable? Do they have cots or a quiet area where your child might sleep?  Some hotels and cruises have night nurseries, where you can put your child to sleep before going out for the evening.  
  • Facilities.  How clean and safe is the environment?
  • What happens if…?  How will they reach you if your child is very unhappy/unsettled or if there is an emergency?
  • Is it run by the hotel or by the tour operator?   Some crèches are run by a specific tour operator, and you’ll only be able to use these facilities if you book through them, for example at the Tenerife Sensatori there is a crèche that is only available to guests who have booked through Thomson.  
  • Do you need to prebook sessions before arrival?
  • What is included in the Kids Club?  Is it free or are there certain sessions you need to pay for?

    T-shirt painting at the Golden Sands Kids Club

    T-shirt painting at the Golden Sands Kids Club

Baby Listening Services

Some hotels have baby monitors wired in to each room.  When you want to leave the room, you activate the monitor and a member of staff will listen in, and alert you if there is any noise coming from the room.  Here’s what you might want to ask:

  • When is this service available?  In some hotels this is switched on in the evening, while at other hotels it is available all day long.  
  • Where can you go within the hotel while your children are sleeping, how far is the range of the monitor?
  • At what point will the staff alert you?
  • How secure is the room?  At Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall, the baby listening system is combined with a room alarm system. 

Taking Babysitters With You

This can take two forms, formal childcare provided by a nanny, or informal childcare provided by friends or family.

  • Formal childcare.   Even if they usually work for you, or even live with you, the holiday environment is different.  Discuss expectations, responsibilities and compensation in advance.  As well as booking their tickets and accommodation, don’t forget to take any additional visa requirements into account.  
  • Informal childcare.  Going away with friends and family can be lots of fun, but be careful not to be too demanding – it’s their holiday too!

    That one in the middle!  Gave us all the norovirus!

    Look at all the babysitters we brought along to help look after Daisy!

Hiring Babysitters While You’re Away

  • Contact your hotel in advance to check on whether they provide babysitting.  If so, are they childcare professionals?  If not, can they recommend a local reputable agency?
  • Ask friends for recommendations on babysitting/nanny agencies.  For anyone off to Tenerife, Tenerife Childcare comes highly recommended.  
  • What is the minimum age that they will babysit for?  We have been caught out before where a hotel won’t provide a babysitter for a child under 1.

Or if you’d rather not rely on other people to help you out, see if you can book a room that has some outdoor space, so that you can at least sit outside and enjoy yourselves in the evenings while the kids are asleep.

  • Nina


    I remember going on a cruise with my then-young nephew and they had a kids club that he really enjoyed. And I never even knew hotel nannies and babysitters existed until I interviewed one who said that that was her prior experience. For me? I’d probably go the “bring the informal sitters aka family and friends along” route 🙂

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