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This article was written by our guest Alexis from FITnancials. All thoughts expressed are solely those of the author. Enjoy!
Traveling abroad can be expensive, but what’s even more expensive is traveling abroad for several months at a time.
Luckily, as an au pair you can live and travel on another continent for a fraction of the cost of regular travel. But if you’ve never watched the hit 1999 movie Au Pair, you’re probably wondering what an au pair is.
Today, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about au pair life – from expenses to benefits of traveling abroad as an au pair.
What Is an Au Pair and Who Can Become One?
An au pair is essentially a live-in-nanny that speaks their native language to the child. The main purpose of an au pair is to teach the child their language and to share cultural experiences as well. The au pair and family may also agree to light housework such as cleaning and cooking as well. An au pair is generally between the ages of 18-30 and can be female or male.
What Are the Benefits of Being an Au Pair?
The biggest benefit of being an au pair abroad is affordable travel. Most au pair families live in Europe, which means you can travel to several countries and get an authentic experience without spending thousands of dollars.
Besides affordable travel, cultural immersion is one of the best things about living as an au pair. You get to experience living a life that may be totally different than yours. When I was 22, I jetted off to Italy and loved how laid back the Italian lifestyle was. There’s also the option of learning a second language as well, which is incredible.
What Are the Expenses of Being an Au Pair Abroad?
Generally, there are very few expenses as an au pair, but this totally depends on what you and the family agree on. For most au pair agreements, the au pair will get the following paid for by the family:
- Cell phone
- Bus pass
- Your own apartment or private room
- An au pair usually gets a weekly or monthly stipend
How Do You Find a Family?
There are several free and paid methods for becoming an au pair abroad. You can opt to go through an agency or find a family online through sites like AuPairWorld.
In my early twenties, I was an au pair and found my family without an ad agency. We video chatted several times and came to an agreement of duties and what would be provided for me as the au pair.
The method you choose to find a family is ultimately up to you, and there are benefits from both methods. With an au pair agency, you get support through the entire process with things like visas, finding a family, and so on. However, there’s a large fee associated with that which can oftentimes be as much as $500.
Finding a family without an au pair agency has pros and cons as well. There’s more flexibility this route and you don’t have to pay any fees, but this means you don’t get any support in the process, which is something I wish I would have had. This is because the agreement I made with the family was almost nonexistent, which meant I was often working 12-hour days for the duration of my trip. The child I was an au pair to was always sick, which I didn’t think about when it came to the agreement.
What Should You Ask the Family During a Video Chat?
When you chat with a potential family, there are important questions you should ask, such as:
- What level English does the child understand and speak?
- Have you had an au pair before? What was the experience like? (Get the previous au pair’s information and contact him/her as a reference.)
- How many hours per day and per week will I work?
- What happens if the child is sick?
- Will I have my own, separate room? (This should be yes.)
- What will be provided for me? (i.e. phone, bus pass, bike, food, etc.)
Prepare Your Finances Before You Leave
As an au pair, most of your expenses are paid for (depending on what you and the family agree on), but you will still want to leave for your trip financially prepared. Here are a few ways to prepare before you depart:
- Let your bank and credit card companies know which city and country you will be in and for how long.
- Have money saved for your trip for travels and weekend adventures. The highlight of my au pair experience was traveling to cities and countries in and around Italy on the weekends. I only spent money as an au pair when I was traveling on the weekends, and traveling in Europe is cheap, so I budgeted $100 for transportation and $150 for a hostel and food. I learned so many ways to save money backpacking in Europe from my au pair family.
- Bring a good travel credit card or debit card (or both to be safe) and make sure they do not have foreign transaction fees.
My #1 Tip for Becoming an Au Pair Abroad
Whether you find a family via an agency or on your own, always ask if they have had an au pair(s) in the past. This acts as a reference, just as if you were to apply to a job – the potential job would want to know references from your previous jobs. If your family has had an au pair in the past, get their contact information and ask the previous au pair about their experience.
Living as an au pair abroad is an experience I recommend for everyone. You get to immerse yourself in a different culture, live abroad affordably, and create memories that will last forever.
Do you want to become an au pair abroad? Let us know in the comments below!
Alexis Schroeder is the owner of FITnancials, a blog dedicated to serving women who want to achieve financial freedom and grow their online business. With budgeting and numerous side hustles, Alexis paid off over $40,000 of student loans and debt in under 5 months. If you want to pay off debt, start a new career, or live a healthier life, you’ve landed in the right place. You can follow Alexis on Instagram here.