By Emily Benito
Let’s be honest– most of us young women want to travel. Seeing the world is one of those activities that broadens your world and brings so many fun opportunities and experiences into your life.
Being an au pair can give you traveling experience while also making the transition into another country’s lifestyle a little easier and more welcoming.
What is an au pair you might ask? An au pair is someone who is a live-in nanny for a family in a foreign country in exchange for room and board. Sometimes au pairs become part of the family and a cherished friend, while other times they are just an addition to the household care team.
Ellery Ross was an au pair in Valencia, Spain. Her favorite place she went when she was an au pair was a little village on the east coast of Spain called Altea.
“The town was composed of sweet white buildings tucked into the hills next to the sea, and the food was incredible,” Ross said. She said that they spent the day chatting with vendors and exploring the surroundings.
Being an au pair sounds fun, right? Even though it is an amazing experience, becoming an au pair is a process. The good news is that the internet has made it much easier to find families that are right for you. A website that can help you become an au pair is aupairworld.com.
When creating the account, you post your experience and resume. Once this happens, you reach out to families and they reach out to you. Some families want to Skype to get a better idea of who their future au pair may be and what they are interested in. Another thing families look for in an au pair is how willing they are to work with the children and how excited they seem for the experience.
“Different families are looking for different levels of involvement with their kids,” said Ross. “It is extremely important to make sure you are on the same page with the family about what your duties will be.”
Finding the right family can take time. Don’t settle for the first family you meet. Make sure to continue reaching out and meeting other families to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Ross said, “I video-called about 10 families before I found the one that felt right. I also reached out to past au pairs of the families I was talking to, to make sure they had a good experience.”
Ross had a seemingly positive and smooth experience finding a host family. Not everyone has had this experience. Some find it stressful.
Sarah Gupta is an au pair in Paris, France. She said that she became an au pair because she wanted to have time for personal growth before she went to college. She said that Paris is her favorite place to be an au pair because the city is magical.
“The city has positively redirected my life and convinced me to follow my dreams and instincts,” said Gupta.
Gupta had a slightly different experience than Ross. She said that finding a family was difficult and that the process was long and complicated. The process of finding a family follows these steps:
- Finding a family.
- Signing contracts.
- Completing multiple applications to get an interview.
- Learning (at least some of) the country’s language.
Another thing to think about when looking to be an au pair is cost. Traveling is expensive and it can be overwhelming. Gupta said that becoming an au pair can cost around $2,000 with hotel stays and travel expenses if you don’t have a consulate in your area.
The best advice to people looking to be au pairs: DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Ross said, “The most important part is selecting your family. It is up to you as the au pair to vet the family and communicate to the family exactly what you are looking for. Another important thing to consider apart from your duties is location.”
With location comes the thoughts of transportation and also the style of living you are looking for. There are urban locations and city locations and even places more rural. You have to keep these things in mind when you research.
“You get to take your experience into your own hands and can always make the best of any situation,” said Ross.
You may be wondering what a day in the life of an au pair looks like. How many chores are there to complete? Early mornings and late nights? What activities do the children need an au pair for? These are all great questions.
Margaret Iva Ashton is from Rome, Georgia. She was an au pair in Montreuil, France, and a day in her life as an au pair looked like this:
– Picking up the youngest child from school (Somewhere between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.)
– Preparing the youngest child for a nap and reading a story to the youngest child
– Putting the youngest child down for a nap
– Relaxing while the child napped and finishing some chores
– Picking up the children from school
– Supervising snack and homework time
– Supervising piano practice for the oldest child
– Spending time with the children
– Giving the youngest child his bath and telling the oldest child to take a shower
Being an au pair can be a wonderful experience. You can travel, see the world, and become immersed in another culture that is different from your own.
“If you are not actually interested in taking care of children and just want to be a tourist, this job is not for you. If you are not interested in learning the language, don’t bother. Being an au pair can be rewarding, but you have to be willing to take on all aspects of the job with enthusiasm. I enjoyed my time as an au pair because I fully embraced the role and immersed myself in the language and culture,” said Ashton.
So, if you love travel and think this experience might be for you, get ready to go into the world of being an au pair!