Au Pair- a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board.
I have recently decided to try a new kind of travel. Well I guess it's not "new" persay, but it's a different way for me.
Rather than traveling around and staying in different hotels or hostels, I will be living in a host families home for 12 months.
As an Au Pair you look for host families that you can stay with for a few months to a year and help take care of their kids and help out around the house like a family member would.
As an Au Pair you will be working outside of your home country. Being that I am from the U.S, I obviously can't Au Pair here, so I will be in Germany starting this September.
When I started this out in February, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't realise there were so many visa options. There were so many questions asked that I hadn't even answered for myself yet, and the process of it all kinda overwhelmed my brain to begin with. But, after having spoken with many families and finally picking my favorite, I understand the process a bit better!
So I've compiled all the things I've learned into one post for any of you who may be interested in the ways of an Au Pair.
There are a few things you should do before you dive into the world of Au Pairing. I have a couple things for you to think about before you register.
- Why Do You Want To Be An Au Pair?
This is a question you will be asked by all parents, they are curious as to your reasons behind being an Au Pair. If you come off as someone who is only traveling for "free" accommodation, you most likely won't find a family who will take you in because they are looking for someone for the purpose of helping with their children.
2. Do You Want To Do ChildCare Or Help Them Learn Your Language?
There are some families who speak basic english, but want their children to fluently bilingual/multilingual by having you only speak to them in your mother tongue, and there are parents who want help taking the kids to school or helping them with homework and watching them when they parents are at work.
If you decide that you only want to teach them your language, you usually won't have to drive or worry about taking care of basic tasks with the kids.
If you want to do child care, you may need to know a bit of their language. This isn't always necessary as some kids are fluent enough in English to communicate.
What you have to figure out is if you want to do one, the other, or both. If you are willing to do both you will have a large option for host families, if you choose one or the other you will have to tell them what you are looking for before you get into making the deal.
3. How Long Do You Want To Stay?
This is a big one, if you plan to stay for a short period of time, they will have to look for another Au Pair as well, if you plan to stay longer you will have to look into what visas you will need in order to do so.
4. What Visas Do You Need?
This will be the hardest thing you do as an Au Pair as every country is different.
As a non-EU resident you will need to look at both how long you are staying in the country, and what that countries visa regulations are.
The best thing to do, since every situation is different, is to call your local Embassy and ask them what ones you will need.
Right now all you need is the basic information, you can dive deeper into the visa situation when you find your family.
5. Is Your Family Supportive?
All of the families I have talked to have asked me this question. Being that I am 18 some families think it's unusual for me to be traveling without my family, and they want to make sure I am doing this with the support of a family in case things get difficult.
Host families like to meet their Au Pairs mom and dad, ask them questions about and see what their lifestyle is like.
6. Do You Have The Money?
This is an important one. Host families usually don't pay for your arrival or departure flights. It is best to have enough money for a flight to your destination, for a flight home, and an emergency flight if it doesn't work out with you host family or there is something at home you need to return for.
I have found Skyscanner to be a really great place to purchase flights. They search google for flight discounts and usually use really trustworthy airlines
What is your current lifestyle like? Do you live in warm climate? In a city, town, or in the country? What is your family like? What aspects do you value?
These are questions to take into consideration when looking for a family. Do you want them to be exactly like your family, or do you want something a little different?
Choose 3-4 countries that you'd like to Au Pair in, look at the typical lifestyle there and decide if that's the kind of family you want to live in.
When you are talking with a potential host family, ask them all of your questions and get to know them on a more personal level and see if your personality mixes well with the way they are and how they live.
It is incredibly important that you feel "at home" with the family. The thought of living with them for an extended period of time has to excite you. Otherwise you will get irritated and homesick.
Once you have a basic idea of what you are looking for, it's time to register!
I only used one site and found a family within a month and a half. I registered through AuPairWorld.com. They don't require any SSN numbers, it's 100% free, and they make sure the families are safe before allowing them onto the site.
When registering through AuPairWorld you can choose up to 7 countries of interest and they will show you families from there. You can also be very specific about the type of area they are from.
Once you've registered it's time to go out and find your family!