Traveling Abroad with a Domestic Helper
Assuming you do have a domestic helper and you want to travel outside of the country, this article is for you. If you don’t have a domestic helper, maybe you can read this first: “How to Hire a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong.”
If you’re considering taking your domestic helper with you while traveling abroad, it’s helpful to plan ahead. I know some people may balk at me and say “why on earth do you need a helper to travel with you?”, but when you’re traveling alone with 2 young children, on a 16 hour flight for 2 months, it’s worth it.
For starters, you should ask your helper if she wants to travel with you. Although it’s rare that they would say no, you also can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do. You may need to throw in some incentive, or rethink the willingness to help of your helper. Of course, this is under the assumption that you’re traveling like a normal person and not to Antartica traveling via sled and living in tents the whole time.
Travel documents and visas
In most western countries, your domestic helpers will require a visitor’s visa. You will have to check with your arrival destination on whether your domestic helper requires a visa, so do this at least a month in advance.
I applied in person (although it’s not necessary for the employer to be there) for my Indonesian helper for a Canadian tourist visa. The process normally takes 5 days, but since we were missing documents, it took about 2 weeks. The helper MUST pick up her passport and visa herself.
Some information you’ll need for your helper (so it’s useful to have the information handy or filled out the form before hand):
- Helper’s education details (Canadian customs wants to know as early as primary school)
- Helper’s previous employment history (as far back as possible)
- Helper’s place and date of birth
- Helper’s parents’ detailed information
- Helper’s siblings’ (if any) detailed information
I always tell my helper that I will store her passport for safekeeping. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but with a passport and free reign on a foreign country, I don’t want to take the risks of a missing helper. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know what to do if she did disappear (missing persons report?), but it’s not uncommon. I know of people whom have taken their helpers abroad, only to have them disappear a few days after arrival.
Just like every other passenger, your helper needs a seat (whether it’s by bus or plane). Yes, I could have taken my husband instead, but I certainly wouldn’t have gotten any bang for my buck when it comes to help with dealing with the children.
Working Arrangements on Travel
My domestic helper continues to work while I’m on travel as she would at home – with the exception of her Sunday holiday. We previously agreed that I would pay her back (prorated) for the Sundays she didn’t get holidays. She will work the same hours (waking up at 6 AM and finishing up at around 7 PM) and assist me as needed (cooking, cleaning, helping with the children). In addition, she will share the family food and join us in meals when we dine out.
Packing for Travel
Due to the weather difference, I don’t expect her to buy her own winter clothing. We have donated sweaters, jackets and have lent her boots, gloves, hats, scarves, whatever she needs to stay warm and healthy. I also went through her packing with her (she initially packed her whole closet – which was a bit too much), and filtered what she would need and wouldn’t need while traveling with me. Since we were visiting my folks, they would provide towels, sanitary requirements, bed sheets, pillows and what not, that we were able to reduce our packing volume.
I’m not a slave driver and my theory is that the helper is what they are – a helper (to help). It’s the first time that my helper saw snow and she was thrilled about it, so I took some pictures for her so that she can keep this as a memory. It also costs me nothing to do this for her, but her gratitude is tremendous. As well, I’ll let her experience foods that she’s never tried before – like Taco Bell, Greek cuisine, NY fries and Tim Hortons. You can almost say that it’s like traveling while on the job. For those of us who do it (or did it) – it was fun while it lasted – right? HAHAHA….Tags: domestic helper, travel