Attention all young adventure seekers and globe trotters: if you’re looking for an amazing chance to travel and work abroad, here it is! This opportunity is perfect for college students looking to have an exciting summer, youth looking to take a gap year, travelers on a budget, individuals trying to learn another language, or anyone looking to achieve some serious wanderlust goals.
If this sounds like you, consider becoming an au pair. It is an incredible opportunity to to have a job which allows you to travel solo and live in unique destination not many can say they have! The idea of an au pair is quite common in Europe but, many people are still extremely curious to know what it’s all about.
What is an Au Pair? An au pair is essentially a nanny for young children but, before you dismiss the idea you should know there are some key differences which make this position unique.
Au pairs live with host families in a country outside of their place of residence.
The point of being an au pair is the aspect of cultural exchange. You as the au pair will be joining a family of another culture to share not only a new geographic location but also their language, ideas, food, and experiences which can only be gained authentically by participating in such exchanges.
Au pairs are offered free room and board.
As part of the exchange, the host family is meant to welcome you into their home as though you were another child/sibling. This means you’ll have your own living space and are welcome to join the family for all meals.
The exact arrangements vary across different host families. For example, some families may offer you a spare room while others may have another private flat close to their family home where the au pair lives. With food, typically if you live in the same house as the family you are free to access food in the cupboards/fridge at any time, as if you lived there. Some families offer the au pair a separate personal weekly allowance so they can purchase food to their liking.
With almost all living expenses paid for, all that’s left is to book you flights!
Au pairs have household duties.
As an honorary member of your new household, you’ll be expected to participate as such. In order to know the exact list of duties and responsibilities which will be expected of you, you must communicate with your potential host family as every family is different! Tasks will also vary depending on the age of the children which typically range from newborns to teens.
Some common expectations are: cleaning and tidying your personal living space, cleaning and tidying the house and/or children’s room(s), bathing the children, cooking for the children (usually after school snacks, but can also be all daytime meals), walking children to/from school and activities, babysitting on nights, and so on. One of the main duties now being asked of au pairs is to teach English. Parents across the globe are eager to have their little ones master the English language in a natural setting, so au pairs are almost always expected to speak exclusively in English.
Sometimes host families request au pairs to have a driver’s license as parents need help doing groceries or bringing the children to activities. If this is the case, they also provide gas money.
Au pairs are paid a weekly allowance.
Host families provide a small amount of money which is meant to be pocket change for the au pair. It’s usually equivalent to 50 to 100 euros per week. Arrangements may vary across different host families as to the amount and scheduling of these payments (weekly/biweekly/monthly). This money should not be meant for groceries or anything related to taking care of the children, but rather for the au pair to use as he/she pleases.
Au pairs have time off.
Typically, an au pair will have a minimum of 1 full day off. This means they are not responsible for care taking duties or restricted to a time schedule. Again, this varies per family. Typically, the day off is on the weekend as parents are more likely to be off work. Some au pairs may find their family allows them more time off, but this may also correspond with a lower weekly allowance.
In addition to full days off, a typical “working” day for an au pair should not be 24 hours! The work day for an au pair should be centered around the child’s schedule. This means within any given day you’ll also have at least 3-5 hours of free time (or more) to yourself when the kids are at school, sleeping, or doing other activities.
You should now see that an au pair is meant to be an additional member of a household who is there to experience a cultural exchange, participates in the typical daily schedules of family members, has the responsibility of an older sibling, and is primarily there to interact with the children.
Being an au pair is an extremely rewarding job for anyone who loves to travel, works well with children, and is open to new experiences. What better way to connect with a new culture than by fully immersing yourself in the daily life of a local family, sharing meals, playing with the little ones, and still having the freedom to explore on your own.
The best part is there’s no set time on when you should start being an au pair. Families all across the world are constantly looking for the newest addition to their family so the opportunity is ready when you are!
Written by Adriana M