The term “au pair” originates from French, meaning “equal to.” An au pair is essentially a young person, often a female, who travels to a foreign country to live with a host family and help with childcare and light household duties in exchange for room, board, and a cultural experience.
Before becoming an au pair, it’s essential to understand the roles and responsibilities involved. While the primary duty is caring for the host family’s children, it usually includes light housework related to the children, such as meal preparation and tidying up their rooms.
Typical au pair tasks may include:
However, an au pair is not a:
– Unpaid labor
When you interview for a job, be very clear that you don’t intend on being a full-time housekeeper outside of tidying up after the kids.
You won’t get rich, but the perks are plenty. Being an au pair comes with a host of advantages, making it an appealing option for solo female travelers:
Cultural Immersion: You’ll fully immerse yourself in the host country’s culture, language, and way of life.
Cost-Efficient Travel: Au pairs typically receive free room and board, which significantly reduces living expenses.
Travel Opportunities: Many host families offer paid vacations or weekends off, allowing you to explore nearby cities or regions.
Personal Growth: Living in a foreign country and adapting to a new family dynamic fosters personal development, independence, and resilience.
Au pairs usually work part-time, with a weekly schedule that includes both childcare and housework hours. The specific working hours and days off should be clearly outlined in your agreement with the host family. It’s essential to establish a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout.
Payment details for au pairs vary by country and family, but there are some common guidelines to keep in mind:
Room and Board: Host families provide you with a private room and meals, ensuring your basic needs are met.
Pocket Money: In addition to room and board, au pairs typically receive a monthly stipend as pocket money. The amount varies widely by country and family but is often enough to cover personal expenses and leisure activities.
Language Classes: Some host families offer language classes or reimburse language course costs to help you improve your language skills.
To find an au pair opportunity, consider the following steps:
Au Pair Agencies: Many countries have au pair agencies that match potential au pairs with host families. These agencies can help with the placement process, including visa requirements.
Online Platforms: Explore websites and platforms like AuPairWorld, GreatAuPair, or cultural exchange websites where families and au pairs can connect. Active Couchsurfers can also explore au pair groups for opportunities.
Networking: Use social media, forums, and traveler groups to network with other au pairs and families.
While I’ve never been an au pair who moved to another country specifically to nanny, I have been a traveling nanny. If you’ve read my book, The One-Way Ticket Plan, you know that I was a nanny in college. I had a pretty sweet gig. This rich family with three girls would take me traveling with them on luxury trips. One time we even went to Hawaii. I got paid to go on vacation.
So if you don’t want to necessarily move to France for a year, know that you can search for families that want travel nannies in the USA as well.
Being an au pair is like having the ultimate international adventure with a twist – you’re not just exploring a new country, you’re becoming part of a cool local family! It’s like living in a real-life cultural exchange reality show, where you get to teach kids, master new languages, and become a household hero. Sure, you might be on snack duty and Lego patrol, but you’ll also get to savor foreign cuisines, soak up traditions, and make friends from all around the globe. It’s a blend of babysitting and globe-trotting, making it the perfect recipe for unforgettable memories and a dash of personal growth. Au pairing – where childcare meets world exploration!
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I'm a bestselling author, hotel reviewer and pickleball player. I teach women how to travel the world solo without going broke or getting kidnapped.
In 2011, I left Seattle with just $200 in my pocket to travel the world solo. Today, I'm the founder and creator of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide, the #1 travel guide book series for women - and the author of The One-Way Ticket Plan.