The Complete Guide to Au Pairing Abroad

person_outline Sophie Grove
Apr 24, 2018

folder_open Travel Advice

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What better way to understand the life of an Au Pair than to see it through their eyes! Our Global Au Pairs from Australia, Italy, France, Holland, America, the UK and Canada answer the most frequently asked questions, touch upon their own experiences and offer advice on what it’s like to live abroad with their host families.

Q. How much spare time do you have for yourself?

RENEE MCKEE

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Italy

“I have plenty of spare time for myself, of course it depends on the family, but if your host family’s children go to school you have the whole day free to explore until you need to pick them up from school.”

SHANIA POTTER

From: Australia / Au Pairing in the UK

“On weekdays I have from 7pm off and on weekends I have the whole weekend off.”

Q. What motivated you to call it quits on normal life and move overseas at such an early age?

Kyla Bradley

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Canada

“I have always had a craving to travel and I desired an authentic experience. I wanted to be immersed in the culture and not just do the tourist things. I was studying and working, pretty much full time, as well as other family responsibilities. I just could never see how to make travelling, in such a way, a possibility. I heard about Au Pairing in high school and was instantly intrigued. Although, after high school I never gave it a second thought and I went straight into university. Whilst I was there, I would listen to stories of others with life experience saying to travel and do it now, while I was unsettled and filled with adventure. So, I did. I sat down with my mum and discussed the ins and outs of this idea. I researched Au Pairing again and companies/agencies that would keep me safe while I did so. I then researched the easiest transition place, with extra possibilities to travel, as it was my first ever trip out of Australia. The rest is history. I am living with an amazing host family. I have a terrific support system back home and I get to experience an authentic Canadian lifestyle, whilst having the opportunity to travel more. I recently went to Los Angeles for four days and did some touristy things, as well as attempting to see the culture too. Now that I have a taste for travel, I can’t stop!”

Genevieve Beaudoin

From: Canada / Au Pairing in the UK

It was a lack of opportunities in my hometown in British Columbia. Either way, I'd have to go somewhere else and I've always wanted to travel, especially to England, so au pairing made the most sense.”

Q. What do you get up to when you're not looking after the kids?

Sam Ostini

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Italy

“When I wasn't looking after the kids I went skiing, I went to Turin (the closest city) on a few weekends where I met up with other girls who were au pairing nearby. I did some travelling and I took time to relax with the family and also by myself. I was very lucky to get such an amazing family, the mother had actually pre-booked tickets to an event called Snow Break which was an exclusive party in the town for students visiting from the University of Milan. Out of working hours, they included me in all of their family events over Christmas and a New Years party in the mountains where we went on snowmobiles to get there!"

Milynda Baker

From: New Zealand / Au Pairing in the USA

After I'm finished working I either stay home and hang out with the family. On weekends or my days off I like to go out and do something, hang out with other au pairs, go on hikes and try new activities.”

Shania Potter

From: Australia / Au Pairing in the UK

“When I'm not looking after children, depending on the week, I could be exploring London or going to another country for the weekend!”

Q. Who do you go to for support if you have any problems abroad?

Natasha Younger

From: United Kingdom / Au Pairing in NZ

When I need some support I first go to my host parents, keeping them in the loop about how you are feeling or if there are any issues is important. If I feel like I need some extra help I get in contact with the au pair agency who are always happy to help! For example, if I had any issues with my host family or other au pairs I would contact my advisor from the au pair agency for help. I would get in contact with Sarah, my Trip Coordinator from The Global Work & Travel Co. if I needed help with any issues regarding my visa or any general inquiries about my working holiday trip. It is also important to stay in contact with friends and family back home, even though they might be on the other side of the world, they can still offer some awesome words of advice and support!”

Kyla Bradley

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Canada

When problems arise abroad, I always turn to my mum. She has always been there for me and can help me square out any questions I may come across. Even though your family isn’t with you, they will always be a part of your support network. If you’re struggling you can lean on them. One way I have always organised myself is by talking to people I’m close to. If it’s not my mum, it’s close friends in varying ages. Since being here, I have emailed my coordinator Sarah a few times with questions I was having and advice on whom I should discuss the matter with. I also have a very comfortable relationship with my host family. If it’s a specific Canadian problem, I turn to them as well as discussing other personal matters.”

Carley Fadden

From: Canada / Au Pairing in Australia

With my host family; I’m lucky enough to have them as major support for any issues I have within the country or outside. I haven’t had any issues with them to need an outside source. However, any questions I had about travelling or visa options, my Trip Coordinator through Global was always very helpful with tips and responding quickly. Also, my family back in Canada were incredibly supportive.”

guide-to-au-pairing-abroad-1

[Global Au Pair Carley on her life changing journey in Australia. Follow her to keep up with her Aussie adventures!]

Q. What experience or qualifications did you need to Au Pair?

Maddy Sullivan

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Holland

Personally before becoming an au pair I completed my Certificate III in Children Services where I worked full-time in a preschool for a year working with children from ages 5 months to 5 years. Then after completing my traineeship I started working in before and after school care working with children from the ages 5 years to 12 years old. I also have a 2 year old niece that I would baby sit regularly.”

Renee Mckee

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Italy

I have experience with children through my work and I’ve babysat my cousins and other children.”

Q. What questions should I ask a potential host family?

Shania Potter

From: Australia / Au Pairing in the UK

“You should ask them to give you a brief timetable of what your week would be like and you should also ask what your hours would be, as in are they flexible hours or set hours (lots of au pairs I meet are always confused as to why everyone has different hours).”

Kyla Bradley

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Canada

“Always ask what type of position they are looking for you to fulfill. How involved they want you to be with their family? Are you wanted to be part of the family? A sibling, almost, that goes on outings, grocery shopping, extended family dinners, etc when not working? Be sure to ask the questions you want to know, don’t go into this type of experience with reservations or uncertainty. Every family has a different expectation and to make sure you are certain they’re the family for you, you should ask what they’re looking for exactly. It is always better to ask more questions, even hard questions. You need to understand your role in the kids’ lives, as much as their family life. This experience is as much for you, as it is for them.”

Q. What are the best benefits of becoming an Au Pair?

 

CARLEY FADDEN

From: Canada / Au Pairing in Australia

Having a family style to come home to. It was a huge benefit for me to get over homesickness. Also, having the option of the “nanny car” for my own travels near where I’m living. Another benefit would be getting to know the kids on a personal, one-on-one level. This was great because I was able to be a part of different achievements and milestones with extracurricular activities and school.”guide-to-au-pairing-abroad-2

[Global Au Pair Carley on her life changing journey in Australia. Follow her to keep up with her Aussie adventures!]

Q. Do you need to speak a foreign language to Au Pair?

Keely Hamilton

From: Australia / Au Pairing in France

"It all depends on where you are going, your prior experience and what you want to get out of your trip as an au pair. You don’t have to speak another language to be an au pair but it might make your experience that much better! If you are an English speaking au pair going to a non-English speaking country your host family will most likely want you to speak in English with the children. If anything, English is more of a requirement for your job than any other language. Even if you do have prior knowledge of the country’s language, you might find you still speak more English during your stay! It is important to remember that English is a global language, so no matter where you go you will be bound to find other English speakers however part of being an Au pair is experiencing a different culture and that is inevitably linked with learning and speaking some of the language."

Q. Was it hard to make friends? Will I be able to meet other Au Pairs?

NATASHA YOUNGER

From: United Kingdom / Au Pairing in NZ

Making friends is so easy! My au pair agency has an online directory of other au pairs, showing exactly where they are in New Zealand and numbers or email addresses so you can get in touch with them. The au pair agency also hold numerous au pair activities which is a great way to make some new friends and meet other au pairs! I completed the Auckland Colour Run with the au pair agency and it was so much fun, I also met some new au pairs while getting covered in paint! Every week there is a coffee group in a local coffee shop which allows you to go along and hang out with other au pairs in your area, again, another awesome way to make friends and find out who lives nearby! Before I came out to NZ I joined the Auckland Au Pair Facebook page once I knew I would be living in Auckland, this allowed me to introduce myself and ask any questions, one of them being if anyone lived near where I would be living, and sure enough, I made a best friend who lives five minutes from me.”

[Natasha is a Global Au Pair living it up in NZ. Check out her travel blog too!]

Q. Can you share some of the highs and lows of the job?

KEELY HAMILTON

From: Australia / Au Pairing in France

Free time is one major positive of being an au pair. I started work most days at 3:45pm. So you have almost the whole day to yourself, to explore or do whatever you would like! Plus, I had almost every weekend off, which was something I hadn’t had in nearly 6 years!

That being said this also comes with disadvantages.

Your routine changes frequently, although I always knew what time I started work, the time I finished changed daily, sometimes the parents would stay out late or would come home late from work. But your weekends do make up for that. It’s also not easy to make friends, you will definitely meet and befriend other au pairs but it is not that easy to make friends with the locals! Mainly because you are always with children or other au pairs.

Although you are looking after a child, you will still find you have little responsibility, no stress and formality of a full time job or study. So your life is pretty laid back and you don’t have much to worry about. That being said, kids can be difficult, sometimes it is hard when they are unhappy or misbehaving.

Similarly you don’t have to pay rent or bills which is amazing! The downside is living on 80 euros a week which is still a challenge. You learn early on that you really need to pay attention to what you spend your money on. Travelling, especially if you are in Europe, is so much easier and more affordable, after all you can go to another country for a weekend! There are so many different and cheap ways to travel and if you can you should really make the most of it because it will probably never be as accessible again."

Related: 6 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Au Pair Abroad 

Q. How did the application process work?

RENEE MCKEE

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Italy

“I had a great team help me the whole way to get to Italy. They were all very helpful and I only had to email or call them if I had any problems. First things first, I needed to make an au pair profile, letter to family, photos with children, references, completed Global resume, national police check, passport copy, medical clearance and a first aid certificate. Then came the flights and travel insurance. Afterwards I started being interviewed by the families in Italy that wanted an au pair. Once I was matched then we organised flights there.”

Q. How long did it take to find a host family after your application was complete?

MILYNDA BAKER

From: New Zealand / Au Pairing in the USA

After my application was complete I found a family in about 2 months. I stayed with that family for about 4 months and then went into rematch. I think I rushed my interviews with the families because I was excited to find one and I was also scared that I may not find one. When looking for a family you really need to take your time, have things in common and really feel comfortable when talking with them. Don't be afraid to rematch. I wish I rematched sooner but I was so scared I wouldn't find a family and I would have to go home but everyone I know that has been in rematch, has found a perfect family. I'm now on my third family and I have never been happier!”

Q. What is the schedule like each day and what are your main duties?

GENEVIEVE BEAUDOIN

From: Canada / Au Pairing in the UK

The schedule changes depending on my host family’s work schedule, and the children's activities. I work Monday-Friday, and I will typically take the kids to school, pick them up afterwards, and ensure that they complete their chores and homework. Depending on work schedules, I'll make tea as well. I always help with cleaning up after meals, and offer to do housework.”

Q. How much free time do you have to site-see?

MADDY SULLIVAN

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Holland

Every family is different, but you always have time to site-see! I work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday giving me Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to do whatever I want. I have a weekend free train card which is very handy as every weekend I am travelling. When the family have holidays you also do, so you get quite a few holidays throughout the year. I have been here for only 2 months and have already seen and done so much!”

Q. If you had to pass on one piece of advice what would it be?

SAM OSTINI

From: Australia / Au Pairing in Italy

My one piece of advice would be to make sure you're thoroughly prepared, I had no dramas because I love to be organised - this includes, researching the climate and environment you'll be temporarily living in (I was in a small snowy village), if the country speaks a different language to yours (learn the basics!), be aware of your surroundings at all times especially in cities, keep duplicates of your information (bank cards, PASSPORT, maps if you won't have access to the internet, any hostels you'll be staying at, etc), make sure you've established a solid relationship with the family before you go to their country and that you both understand what you expect from one another, and most importantly enjoy yourself.”

Related: What it's like to Au Pair Abroad 

Does an Au Pair sound like the right fit for you?! You’ll get to travel, make some money, learn the language, make friends and immerse yourself in a new culture. The Global Work & Travel Co. is going to be there from day one, getting you set up and ready to kick off those dreams of travelling the world that you have always had. Find out how to turn your travel dreams into reality and start your au pair adventure today.

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Sophie Grove

Sophie Grove

Sophie is a Creative Writer and Social Media Coordinator and is a travel lover at heart. She’s got a few stamps in that passport, but knows she’s barely scratched the surface of what's on offer in this big old world. Follow her as she continues to scratch the surface with The Global Work & Travel Co.