“You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” – Eugene Fodor
Say that above quote out loud and realize it’s true.
If you want to travel, you’ll find a way and make it work. You might not get to stay in a 5-star suite, but is that really what travel is about? To me, traveling is about experiencing the ins and outs of the country, getting to learn about the culture, taste the foods, and more.
I have received many questions regarding my au pair experience and how I found a family. Below are all of the questions that I wish someone had laid out for me, so here you go!
Do I need to know other languages?
You definitely do not need to know other languages in order to become an au pair.
Knowing English alone is going to put you above other au pairs that are not MTE (mother tongue English). Obviously, this depends on the family, but most families are looking for MTE.
I would recommend knowing a basic foundation of the language you are going to be surrounded with. It’s always respectful to at least try to speak the other language, rather than not caring to learn the native language at all. I also think it’s a bit silly to go to a foreign country and not be interested in learning a foreign language.
Related: Check out italki to get 1-1 lessons with a foreign language teacher, who is usually from the country you are interested in. Get $10 toward your first lesson.
Can I become an au pair if I am a male?
Of course. European countries are moving in a direction where au pairs are both female and male, as the countries are quite progressive. You might have a harder time being an au pair in the USA, as most families are still uneasy about having a male au pair. I’ve met many families on AuPairWorld that had a male au pair in the past and had a great experience.
Do I need a bunch of money saved up before I go?
Not really. I would recommend having emergency savings in the bank (as per usual), but nothing crazy for your time in the country as an au pair, unless you are trying to live lavishly.
My contract with my family includes a monthly stipend, phone bill, food, accommodation, transportation, and so on. I won’t be paying for anything while I am there, and my monthly stipend will be covering most of my traveling needs.
Related: Use Ebates to get up to 10% back on flights and other travel-related expenses. Get $10 for signing up here.
What will I need to pay for?
Depends on the family. I am using my monthly stipend to travel to outside cities and countries. If I decide to go out for lunch, then I will be paying for that.
Here is a travel kit for only $16. These are ESSENTIAL for traveling.
Above: Florence, Italy
Do I need a visa to become an au pair?
It all depends on the country you choose. For most western European countries, you can stay up to 3 months without a visa. If you decide you want to stay longer than 3 months, you will need to buy a visa ahead of time. Your family will most likely reimburse you for your visa upon arrival, or when you leave at the end of your stay to ensure that you stay the full time.
How long will I need to stay for?
Time durations range from 1 month to 12 months, and some au pairs decide to stay even longer if the family is a good fit. I am staying with my family for a duration of 3 months.
What are the benefits of becoming an au pair?
Everything is pretty much paid for. Depending on the family, you can get a monthly stipend, phone bill covered, as well as food, accommodations, and more. I’ve had some families offer me an apartment all to myself, but I decided to take the route of living with the family, so I can really experience their culture and way of living.
No one becomes an au pair to save money and make bank. That’s not what this experience is about. This experience is about traveling the world, getting a real taste of the culture, and so much more. You will learn a ton about yourself in the process and come back to your home country as a changed person.
What’s the best country to be an Au Pair?
It’s really up to you, and the options are endless. What country have you always wanted to live in? Choose that country, and go! Do a little research ahead of time and see the rules and regulations of the country for au pairs.
Above: Venice, Italy
Do I need to go through an agency in order to become an au pair?
Agencies can cost upwards to $1000, sometimes even more. There’s no point in going through an agency when you can easily choose your own family. If you end up hating your family, yes, your agency can help you find a new one, but so can you all by yourself, with no fee attached.
What if I end up hating my host family?
This happens, believe it or not. Which is why I strongly urge paying close attention to the family you choose. You want to make sure they match your needs. I believe the hiring process is more of you interviewing the family, rather than them interviewing you. Au pairs are in such high demand, that you don’t have to choose quickly or be afraid that you won’t find a family. You will definitely find a family, that you will most likely end up falling in love with as long as you choose carefully. I’ve known of au pairs that found a new family even in a small city.
How can I find a family?
There are tons of sites to choose from, such as Aupair, AuPairWorld, and so on. If you feel more comfortable going through an agency, you can use Interexchange, as well as other agencies.
Tips You Need To Know Before You Become An Au Pair:
- I would highly recommend finding a family that has had references before. Unless you have a really good feeling about a family that has no references, then you can follow your gut and choose them. All families need to start somewhere but let me remind you, you are taking a risk on being paired up with a potentially horrible family.
- If you are staying for a short time, make sure you are living in a city where transportation is quick and easy. Time is crucial, especially if you want to travel to other cities and countries.
- I highly urge you to join Facebook groups that are geared towards au pairs. It will be plenty easy to find a family, and you can scope out their Facebook profile ahead of time as well. I posted a quick listing on an Au Pair Italy group and had messages from 10+ families wanting me to be their au pair.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Keep in mind that the current au pair for the family might feel scared or hesitant about telling you the truth about the family. They are living with the family at the current moment, and if they tell you the truth, word might get out to the family and…. you know the rest.
Are there any other tips you recommend for an au pair? Do you have any questions on how to become an au pair?