Family travel for the whole family
Julie from HelperChoice offers practical advice for families who would like to bring their helper on a trip with them.
Your holidays are getting closer and you may be considering taking your helper with you. Sometimes family holidays may be much easier with a helping hand or you may want to find a way to appreciate your helper for her hard work. Whatever the reason, taking your helper with you can be challenging depending on your destination and the duration of your holidays.
Firstly, you need to ask your domestic worker if she wants to travel with you. If your helper accepts, you need to check whether her passport is valid, check if your domestic worker’s insurance is covering the destination and start investigating about your helper’s visa requirements.
Securing the right visa for your helper is key. In many Southeast Asian countries, your helper is authorised to join you for a short stay. Nevertheless, in many Western countries, she will need to apply for a special tourist visa or possibly a work visa (we suggest you research your destination’s requirements on the relevant government website). The cost of the visa varies a lot.
Do not underestimate the time required to process the paperwork. We advise you to submit your application in advance. For instance, for Canada it usually takes five days but in France it takes one month. Be sure to get several weeks’ leeway in case you need to provide additional documents.
You will need to give different types of information, depending on your destination. For instance, you may be asked to give your helper’s education details, her previous employment history, some information related to her family etc.
Like any passenger your helper needs to book a seat on the bus or the plane that will bring you to your country of destination. Some airlines companies propose cheaper prices for helpers when they come back to their home countries. It is useful to keep in mind if you plan on vacationing in Indonesia or the Philippines.
A few weeks before, make sure your helper has everything she needs to travel with you: with the weather difference, you may need to buy her some clothing, particularly if the winter is harsh. In this case, your helper (and your family) will need hats, gloves, boots etc. You also have to prepare your helper to the culture of the country and brief her about the behaviour that she should adopt. In some Middle-Eastern countries, women need to wear headscarves and cannot swim in a bikini.
Once you arrive, you may want to adjust your helper’s schedule (for instance, she does not need to make the beds and clean the room if you are in a hotel). You can also agree with her to change her rest day if you need to adapt her schedule to your holidays’ planning. During your holidays, do not forget to have fun with your helper. She will discover new places, see different lifestyles or participate to new activities and will surely be thrilled about it.
Helpers are often paid below the minimum wage of other countries, be sure to check the salary and compensation regulations in your destination country before confirming your trip. If you want to know more about tourist or work visa requirements for some popular holiday destinations from Hong Kong, visit the embassy website of the country in which you will spend your holidays.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on 19 October to clarify the visa and salary recommendations.