How to Keep Kids Entertained When Working as a Travel Nanny

After many months of hard work, the family vacation is a time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of the many hours that a person has given their employer. A good family holiday has time for relaxation, fun, and spending time with partners and children.

The reality of family holidays is that they can often be stressful. Some children don’t travel well or are restless on long journeys. Driving across the country or taking a long-haul flight is neither relaxing nor fun at times. Even just trying to get everyone checked in for a flight can feel fraught so many people are turning to travel nannies to help.

If you are working as a travel nanny then you will know all about the difficulties involved in helping the family have a smooth trip. However, if you are planning on joining a family trip soon or are just taking on your first assignment then you might want to read some tips on how to keep kids entertained during the journey.

What is a travel nanny?

There are three main types of travel nannies:

  • Full-time nanny who travels with the family
  • Contracted travel nanny who joins different families for short periods
  • In-flight travel nanny

In-flight nannies

An in-flight travel nanny is employed by a parent or family to help with toddlers and children during the flight. They are often someone who is traveling to the same country at the same time as the family. Therefore they earn some extra money or even a free flight in return for attending to the children and making the journey less stressful. Their responsibilities often end after the flight but could include more time at the destination country.

Contract travel nanny

One of the other travel nanny jobs includes working for an agency. A travel nanny working this way would be hired to join a family for a period of time and help with activities, entertainment, and other responsibilities based around the children.

Full-time nanny

Someone who is employed as a nanny full-time may be asked or expected to travel with the family too. A family with employment links or other ties abroad may have to travel many times a year and they would look for a good nanny who is willing to travel with them and look after the children. This type of nanny typically works with a family for a long time, possibly years, and makes strong bonds with the children and often the parents too.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a childcare worker in the States may make around $30,000 a year but a full-time travel nanny could make over $100K.

How do you become a travel nanny?

Unlike many jobs, a nanny doesn’t necessarily need a lot of qualifications. It is classed as a lower-skilled job in the UK which makes it problematic for some people to find employment.

There are many travel nanny jobs and if you are keen on this area then you could look at online agencies or search Google for vacancies. You may find other nanny jobs posted in classifieds but there are many good nanny job websites online.

What are the essentials for being a good travel nanny?

You have to be able to stimulate and entertain children at home and especially when traveling. The requirements for being a nanny are bags of energy and enthusiasm. Being able to plan, research the destinations and pick out activities to engage in. You will also be partly involved in the child’s education as the time you spend with them will be part of their development.

A travel nanny may not need a bunch of certificates and degrees but they will need a passport with a valid passport photo and be able to obtain visas for the destinations that the family head to. If you are from overseas then you will need to make sure you can get a visa for employment and also consider if you will be able to travel in and out of the country.

Other qualifications you might want to consider are a first-aid certificate and perhaps college studies in Health, Social Care and Children and Young People’s Settings. Mostly though, you need to be passionate about working with children and travel.

How to entertain the children during travel and holiday times

Now you understand what a travel nanny does to a degree it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of keeping a child entertained while traveling.

There are a few areas to consider here. Firstly, you have the actual travel time which may include cars, trains, ferries, and/or planes. Then you have the holiday period afterward which is unfortunately followed by a return leg involving all those lovely forms of transport that kids love, or not.

Entertainment for kids while in vehicles

Short journeys are usually manageable and old classics such as I-spy can still work wonders for keeping little ones entertained. Longer journeys may take a bit more effort though. The most common thing that people do is to use iPads and other tablets to watch cartoons and play games. While there is nothing wrong with this over short periods try to think outside the box.

An airline will supply movies and children’s channels that might occupy a kid’s mind for a while but how about letting them use their imagination? Audiobooks can take a child into another world and away from a tablet or mobile screen. Children who suffer from motion sickness should avoid books and movement on TV so an audiobook is a great way to distract them.

Use other tricks such as coloring books or teach them origami. This can take hours out of a trip as they try to learn how to make different animals out of paper. 

Entertaining kids while on holiday or at the destination

There are many great reasons why you should travel with kids. Visiting different regions and countries can help with their development, understanding of different cultures and increase their interest in different languages and foods.

However, it isn’t all fun and games and sometimes children can become home-sick or just bored.

One of the responsibilities of a good travel nanny is to be prepared for the destination and this means doing some research and planning. Simply using the internet and/or travel guides can elicit some excellent information on where the family is headed. This means you can look into activities to take part in and interesting places to visit.

Here are some places that you could research before you arrive:

  • Aquariums
  • Museums
  • Theme parks
  • Art galleries
  • Themed restaurants
  • Craft markets
  • Tours
  • Landmarks
  • Boat trips
  • Water parks

If you are headed to a quiet place such as a fishing village then try to engage the children by introducing them to new foods and showing them the natural scenery and the beaches. Hopefully, you will be heading somewhere that has age-suitable activities to indulge in.

Games are always good for spending quality time and helping to keep kids entertained. You could play a memory game based on travel that involves learning landmarks around the place you are visiting.

Prepare yourself for the trip

There are plenty of ways to entertain children while traveling but if you are fatigued and tired yourself you will struggle to find the required energy to play with the children.

If you are able to, travel ahead of the family. This way you will not be jet-lagged and you will have time to get familiar with the new surroundings. When the family arrives you will know exactly where you will be taking the children and what activities are available.


Puzzles, games, and learning new skills such as crafts and origami are great distractions while traveling. If you must use iPads for keeping the children entertained then try and use educational apps such as Creative Challenges. You will be doing your job as a travel nanny and helping with the kids’ development at the same time. Plan and research for the destination and once you arrive you will be fully prepared on how you will entertain the children.


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