Getting ready for an international move: Packing Tips

Travel, suitcase, airplane

(This is a post by our new blogger, Megan Lester. She will be writing for Best Au Pair Guide on a regular basis, and we happy to have her! Her bio is below)

Conquering the Suitcase/Carry-on:

In a few days I will be flying overseas to spend another year in Germany, which means this week is packing week. One checked bag (40 lbs.) and one carry-on (my trusty backpack) are almost all I need for my time abroad … almost. This post is about how to make the most of your limited packing space: what to leave behind and tricks that can make all the difference.


This tip depends, of course, on where you are going. As I am headed to rainy/sunny/snowy Germany, it would seem wise to bring snow boots, a snow jacket, a rain jacket, hats, scarves, etc. But these items alone would take up half of my suitcase and up to a quarter of my weight limit, which is why I am leaving them behind. The clothing and accessories sold in your new country will not only suit the land’s climate (probably better than your clothes do anyway), but will also match the locals’ style. Save room, time, and hassle by buying especially cumbersome items while abroad. When it starts to snow in Germany, finding a chic coat won’t be any trouble at all.


We all have stupid clothes. Old track shirts from high school, puke-colored shorts … this isn’t just me, right? I always pack some ‘stupid’ clothes when moving abroad, and here’s why: losing ugly shorts at a hostel is no big deal. Throwing away an old shirt to make room for a souvenir is no big deal. Having an outfit that is fair game to get dirty opens you up to getting dirty. Interpret that as you will. Stupid clothes are comfortable and convenient, but ultimately disposable, which can be a lifesaver on weeklong trips to hot, muggy cities or for camping at a national park.


A day of flying is exciting and exhausting, but mostly gross. I bring a few things in my carry-on to make me feel a little more human at the end of the day: Wet Wipes, lotion, chapstick, Downy Wrinkle Release, and gum. Wet Wipes make for clean hands in a pinch, improvised showers during unexpected delays, and quick-cleanups for spills and surprises. You can get wipes with alcohol, which also act as stain removers (if prone to spills), or fancy face wipes for a refreshed face after transatlantic trips. Lotion and chapstick obviously keep my skin from turning into scales when on those mega-dry airplanes. Downy Wrinkle Release makes your clothes look and smell good after long days of traveling. If you’re meeting someone at the airport whom you want to impress, a well-timed spritz of wrinkle release can freshen an outfit effortlessly. Gum is a must-have for releasing pressure from your ears on planes, getting fresh breath without a toothbrush, and making friends with your seatmates on long flights.

The most important tip when packing for a move is just to pack appropriately. Search online for your city’s weather, fashion, trends, etc. so you know how to be comfortable and fit in. These other tips will hopefully supplement your packing prowess and get you ready for your international move.

I’d love to hear from readers – what do you do to get ready for a move? Any packing tips that you swear by? Share in the comments below!

Megan Lester is a graduate from the University of Portland where she studied English and German. She recently moved to Hamburg, Germany on a Fulbright scholarship and finds her new home ganz schön.

Au Pair, travel, and language programs in – China!


(photo courtesy of the Asia Kids Society)

Have you ever thought about working as an au pair in China? If so, I just found out this week about an organization that can help you get there. The LOHO Centre in Beijing offers people au pair jobs, internships, and other work and language programs throughout travel. It’s also part of the IAPA (the International Au Pair Association), so it’s legit.

I don’t have numbers to prove this, but I would think that China is still a bit off the beaten path as far as au pairing goes. But apparently they have a very large number of host families looking for au pairs to come work for them. The agency also says that they have an increasing number of au pairs coming in from Western countries, which I can imagine is true.

So if the Chinese language, culture, and people are fascinating to you and it’s a place you would like to find out more about living and working in, take a look!


Au Pair Ebook Summer Special – $5

Talyas-au-pair-book-thumbIn celebration of the long hot days of summer, we’re offering our Ebook, The Girl’s Guide to Being An Au Pair, for half price!

From now through the end of August, you pay $5 instead of $10 …  So if you want to find out about being an au pair – where to go, how to find a host family, how to make the most of your time abroad, and more … be sure to grab a copy!

The button below will take you to PayPal, where you can pay with your PayPal account OR with a credit/debit card if you aren’t an account holder. We will then send you your very own copy of the Ebook, to help get you started on your way to being an Au Pair.


Au Pair in Australia

Australia(This is a guest post by Miryam Aubert from Au Pair Australia)

Have you ever thought about moving to the land “down under”  to work as an au pair? If so, below is what you can expect from working as an au pair in Australia, as well as what you need to get started. Enjoy!



As an au pair, your primary responsibility is to look after the host family’s children. Alongside childcare, you may be asked to help out with household chores as part of your duties, but these should only be light household chores, as your primary responsibility is to look after the children, not to clean house. Normal working hours are a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 45 hrs per week.

Pocket money

Your host family will give you pocket money in exchange for your help. Au pairs in Australia are paid a weekly pocket money of at least $6 – $8 per hour, depending on experience and skills.

Board and accommodation

Au pairs are entitled to have their own room at their host family’s home. The family should also provide them with meals. Naturally, this also applies in case of illness or during your holidays. You of course will still be taken care of, even if you happen to get sick.

Working hours

There are no specific regulations when it comes to the au pair’s number of working hours in Australia. However, from our experience we recommend that you work 30 to 40 hours per week. Your host family can ask you to do some babysitting up to 2 evenings per week, which should be included in your working time.

Free time

As an au pair, you are entitled to have at least one day off per week. This day should be on a Sunday at least once every month. We suggest families to give weekends free as much as possible, and most host families are fine with this, as they like to enjoy time with their children on weekends.


The Working Holiday Programme doesn’t regulate how much holiday you are entitled to during your stay in Australia. However, we recommend families to give one week of holiday for a stay of six months, or at least two weeks’ holiday per year.

Language course

During your stay as an au pair in Australia, you can participate in a language course if you would like to improve your English skills. Usually it is the au pair who pays for his or her own language course, as this is not an official part of the au pair program.

Travel expenses

Normally, it is expected that you pay for your flight to and from Australia. If your host family is happy with the help you provide, they may possibly pay your return trip or part of the cost. However, family is not obliged to do so, but we do recommend that host families help with flights if they can.

End of stay bonus – We also encourage families to pay an “end of stay” bonus at the end of the placement, based on good performance.  This is normally around $500 AUD, and is a nice way to thank au pairs for a job well done.

What you need to apply to be an Au Pair in Australia

1) A copy of your passport or any Identification and a copy of your first aid certificate if you have this.
2) A copy of your driving license, if you have one.
3) Two written references in English (not from family or friends). References completed by the staff at schools, nurseries, hospitals, children’s homes, or from the parents of children you have looked after are the best kind to have.
4) A “Dear Family” letter, written in English, giving details about your family, yourself, work experience and your reason to become an Au pair
5) A Medical certificate – provide a certificate confirming that you are fit & healthy. This can be obtained from your doctor or nearby medical center.
6) Recent photographs of yourself, showing to your host family your hobbies, your family, and friends.
7) A Police clearance certificate (or background check). Ask your local police department or other legal authority in your country to provide you with a certificate or other document stating that you do not have a criminal record.

Once you have this, you can apply to work as an au pair in Australia. And if you need help getting started and finding a host family in Australia, we can help! We are the only Australian au pair agency offering au pairs free registration (a fee normally costing 500€ in Europe), so if you would like to help us connect you with a host family in Australia, contact me, Miryam, at I look forward to hearing from you!







Tips for starting out right with your Host Family (Adventures in America – Part 2)

picagaThis is another guest post from Agnieszka, who is currently working as an au pair in Georgia, USA. Enjoy!

When I first met my host family, I of course was nervous, like all au pairs are. These are things I learned that help me get through the initial strange getting-to-know stage, and hopefully they will help you if you are getting started out in a new place and with a new family!

  1. Be yourself! Nothing is worse than pretending to be someone completely different than you are just because, this is what you think others want to see. If you start out pretending, you will have to do it all the time for the whole year. Is that worth it? I don’t think so.
  2. Be honest! This is a new situation for you, and it is normal to be anxious at the beginning. If there are problems or you don’t understand things that are being said, say that you do not understand and that you need them to repeat themselves. No one expects you to be perfect, so it’s ok to be honest if there is an issue or if something isn’t clear.
  3. Talk a lot! Communication is the most important thing when it comes to relationships with other people. If you do not share anything, it is impossible to get to know and be able to trust, and to be trusted. If you have any problems with your host family, go and talk about what is happening. Of course, communication is important not only when you have a problem! During normal days, when you are happy about something be sure to be open and share.
  4. Listen, too! Talking is just part of communication. The rest of it is listening. Occasionally your host family will have things to discuss with you about their household and children and maybe even how you are doing things. If they have problems to discuss, do not defend yourself immediately, but listen to what they have to say and share your opinion afterwards. Stay open and be willing to hear what they have to say!
  5. Spend my time with your host family! If they eat dinners together – eat with them. If they go somewhere on the weekend and invite you to join, then go with them. Of course I am not saying that you should be with them all the time, but do be sure to spend time getting to know them and having fun with them. The au pair/host family relationship doesn’t have to be all work and no play!
  6. Have fun! Remember, living abroad as an au pair is something you really wanted, so stay relaxed and go with the flow. Living in another country and working and living with people you’ve just met can be challenging, but you will get used to the new place and have a great time. Just remember to stay positive, even when it gets challenging.


Adventures in America – Guest post from an Au Pair in Georgia

au pair in Georgia This is a guest post from Agnieszka, an au pair from Poland currently working near Atlanta, Georgia. She will be writing regular posts for us, and you can read more about her au pair experience – as well as advice for others – at her personal blog.

About myself

My name is Agnieszka, and I am a 22-year-old from Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. I came to the US as an au pair in November 2013, and I live near Atlanta, Georgia, with a 5-year old girl named Alicia, and her dad, Nathan. We also have one more member of a family – a cat named Cleopatra, whom we call Cleo for short.

Why am I here?

It  all started when my host dad, Nathan, and I decided to create a series of posts about how children should be treated, which I posted on my personal blog (the link is above). I then got in touch with Talya and was offered the opportunity to share my experience as an au pair, which I will be doing on a monthly basis here.

Why I decided to become an au pair …

My life back in Warsaw was not very easy or pleasant, which is why I decided to make a change. I was working as a receptionist in a dancing school for almost two years, working hard, and more or less just scraping by. I knew I wanted to enjoy life, travel as much as possible, meet new people and make my dreams come true. I was not quite sure what to do and looked into different options. Everything changed while I was on a trip to Slovakia with two friends in 2012, when one of them told me she saw a video of a girl who went to the US as an au pair for a year. The girl talked about how much she liked it, how much she learned, and she also said it was a very good way to become more independent.I was very interested, so after the trip I started to research to learn more and more about au pair programs in the states. At that time, I was not extremely interested in living in the United States, but the more I read about it the more I was convinced it was for me.

It took quite some time to organize my life so that I could go to the US as an au pair. I had to work to save money, get my driver’s license, and finish up my schooling. It was a very stressful time but I am happy that I had a goal and did not give up. I knew I exactly what I wanted to reach so I kept trying and by 2013, after finding an agency and then a host family, I made it to the USA as an au pair!

At the time, my biggest dream was to go to California, but I was offered a job with a family in Georgia, and I am very happy here. I’m enjoying new things, meeting new people, and have opportunities I did not have before. Georgia is not California, but it is a great place!

So … that is all from me today, but I will be back again soon to share more about my experience as an au pair in Georgia. In the meantime, I would love to hear from other au pairs living and working in the US, so please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below, or join our forum!


Five great ways for Au Pairs to travel on the cheap


As we all know, travel can get expensive. And for au pairs getting by on a relatively small budget, spending a lot of hard-earned money on travel isn’t an option for most. So here are a handful of practical ways to help you travel affordably during your time as an au pair:

  1. Book travel EARLY – Planning ahead is not a core strength that all of us possess, but really – the sooner the book the more you save. It’s just that simple. Especially with discount airlines such as EasyJet – if you book weeks – or even months – in advance, you can find flights for ridiculously low prices. And chances are that your host parents will want you to plan your trip in advance anyhow, so as soon as you decide when and where to go, go ahead and book any flights or train tickets. You’ll be glad you did!
  2. Shop around – Don’t book the first offer you find. Travel comparison sites such as Kayak, my personal favorite, will list a variety of offers to help you compare and see which would work best. Keep in mind, however, that budget airlines, such as EasyJet aren’t normally listed on the larger travel sites so you will need to check them separately.
  3. Find a travel buddy – Not only can traveling with a friend be a lot more fun than solo travel, but you can save a lot of money. Splitting costs on everything from hotels and rental cars to food can save you a lot of money, so if you’ve got one or more good friend you can travel with then look into it for sure. Sharing expenses might mean that you can had a little bit more luxury to your trip too – think splitting the cost of a decent hotel room 2 or 3 ways, rather than slumming it in a youth hostel on your own.
  4. Look beyond hotels – Gone are the days when hotels, guest houses, and hostels were the only places for travelers to lay their heads at night. Websites like airbnb and couchsurfing make it possible to stay in private homes and apartments for cheap or even free. Totally worth checking out both.
  5. Try car sharing – Many countries have ride-sharing organizations where you pay to ride with private people traveling to specific destinations. This can be more affordable than public transportation, as well as more enjoyable and faster at times. Prices vary, of course, but are very reasonable. One one German ride sharing site, for example, you can catch a ride from Berlin to Prague for as little as 16€.

So! I hope this is helpful, and that you are able to enjoy what is left of the dog days of summer this year … as well as plan ahead for the fall and winter that lie ahead. And I’d love to hear other ideas and ways you travel without spending a lot of money. Please leave your tips in the comment section below!


Summer program for Au Pairs in Italy

Venice pic

Photo courtesy of dreamstime

This is a guest post by Silva, an American who recently moved to Trento, Italy with her husband. Silva is an English teacher and volunteer at InCo, helping match host families with au pairs.

Italian families are looking for English-speaking au pairs for summer 2014!

InCo (Interculturitå e Comunicazione) is a non-profit organization that began in 2004 and is located in Trento, Italy. It is an organization geared towards bringing cultures and people from all over the world together, giving them the chance to experience a different country, language, and culture. This is done by creating positions in which volunteers or au pairs can live and work in a new city and/or country.

The organization is currently looking for au pairs who are interested in going to Italy for three months this summer. Host families are looking for au pairs that are from the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, and Germany. Au pairs should have some child-care experience, and of course, enjoy travel and foreign language. Host families also look for au pairs that are creative, responsible, fun loving, and love to be around children!

Itay is a country full of color, laughter, shouts, delicious food, and beautiful sceneray. With a bus or train you can reach lakes, mountains, or a different city. Italians are also known for enjoying life to the fullest, whether it’s vacation, family, or enjoying the traditional aperitif with friends in the evening. It is a country worth experiencing!

Living with an Italian family is a wonderful and enriching experience – au pairs will learn a new language, try traditoinal Italian dishes, and see and experience something new almost everyday. Italian families are highly family-oriented, and au pairs are welcomed as one of the family.

Anyone interested in the summer program can contact Silva at