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Air travel opens up incredible avenues of exploration. If you want to soar the skies and land in a faraway location, there’s an airline that can get you there.

But the availability and convenience of such expansive coverage comes at a cost. Add in the price of fuel, maintenance, manpower and more, and air travel can quickly become cost prohibitive for many.

If you want to travel by air but don’t want to pay the exorbitant cost, there are some inventive ways you can earn free — yes, free — transport. This article is the fourth in a travel series to show you how.

The Technique: Help Air Travelers with their Children

If you plan to travel by air and would like to earn a little extra money at 30,000 feet, you can register to become a personal nanny in the skies to a family traveling with young children. Travelers who need extra assistance with their kids may pay you to help them carry luggage, navigate terminals and entertain the kids in flight. This is a great way to earn money that can offset the price you have paid for your ticket, while helping others and making the time pass quickly.

Why would Someone Pay me?

Traveling with children can be a challenge, especially if there are multiple stops or a long layover. Airlines, aside from Gulf Air, don’t offer child travel assistance — but wouldn’t it be great if all the airlines took the lead of Gulf Air and offered an air nanny service? Until that time, many individuals are willing to pay someone to help their travel go more smoothly. That’s where you come in.

The Expectations: Your Responsibilities

As an air nanny, you are not hired by an airline; instead, you are contracted by an individual or family who plans to travel. You register and create an online profile via a site, get chosen, have contact before the trip (an online or telephone “interview” are the most common forms of first contact), then meet at the airport to begin your “work” at a reasonable time before your scheduled flight. You meet securely at the airport itself — not in an outside location — so you can choose to do so at the terminal, at the security checkpoint, outside a certain food vendor, or at the actual gate. In short, you help ensure that the person(s) traveling with kids have an easier flight experience because of you. So that might mean pushing a stroller, making an ice cream run at the terminal, or playing a card game with the kiddos on the fold-out tray in-flight. Different travelers will have different needs, so a potential air nanny should be flexible enough to handle kids of various ages and level of needs. Of course, you can always decline an offer of work if you do not feel you are a good match for the family/kids.

Getting Registered

The most secure service to use to advertise your availability as an air nanny is through the online company Nanny in the Clouds. This booking site allows users to set their wage and remain in control of which work they accept/reject. Registration is simple: potential nannies create an online profile with at least two verifiable references and post a biography. Domestic as well as international travel nannies are encouraged, and though each individual names his/her price, most earn about $20 an hour for the time actually spent at the airport and on flight. This site has even been featured in The Economist and on ABC’s 20/20! Learn more about the process and expectations on their FAQ page.

Travelers needing nannies can search before they book a flight to check availability, or they can browse after they have established a flight path. Nannies don’t need to possess formal childcare credentials, but explaining your background and strengths in your online profile will likely increase your chances of being chosen. Additionally, users can review nannies, so having positive reviews can increase the chance of getting more in-flight nanny gigs. Note that background checks are not required, so resist sharing personal information (social security number, home address, exact birthdate, etc).

Individuals may want to advertise on their own via social networking sites, blogs, or classified services like Craigslist, but beware about unintentionally broadcasting your absence from your home. Therefore, for your peace of mind, it’s best to use an organized service like Nanny in the Clouds that doesn’t require you to divulge sensitive personal information and more easily places you in touch with willing contractors.

If you are interested in flying for free but don’t want to be an air nanny, stay tuned! More articles are on the way to show you how you can make your travel dreams a reality!

More articles in this series:

How to Fly for Free: Organizing Group Travel

How to Fly for Free: Volunteer for a Later Flight

How to Fly for Free: Organizing Student Travel

How to Fly for Free: Be an Air Nanny