Five great ways for Au Pairs to travel on the cheap

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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!

 

Your mom – or grandmother – could be an au pair? With Granny Au Pairs, yes!

granny au pair (photo by dreamstime)

Ok, so maybe your grandma – or even your mother – doesn’t want to be an au pair, but a new au pair agency in Germany is making it possible for women who are no where near their teens and twenties to work abroad as au pairs. The agency founder started the company 18 months ago to give older women – many of whom who did not get to travel when they were younger – the opportunity to be au pairs.

So far the agency has placed over 50 of these “mature” au pairs in families, and the results appear to be good, according to an article in The Independent. Many of these women have already raised families of their own, so their experience makes them an asset.

I admit it – at first the idea of an au pair the age of my 50+ year old mother sounded a bit strange. But to be honest, I can see an older au pair really working out. Host families with more mature au pairs would not likely have to deal with the issues that come up with younger au pairs (partying, bringing home strange people, boyfriend drama, etc.). They would also know that their children are in good hands, especially with women who have already raised children of their own.

And most children adore their grandmothers and would probably do well with an older woman taking care of them (knowing my kids, they would be a lot less likely to act up with an older woman than they would a teenager!), so it makes sense on several levels.

And think about it – it also makes sense from the perspective of an older au pair. Why shouldn’t they be able to feed their sense of adventure? I love the idea of older women getting to travel abroad as au pairs, and I believe Granny Au Pairs is going to be a success, for many adventuresome women and their host families!

since au pairs do a lot of cooking…

My friend Brianna at www.hearthmanagement.com is doing a giveaway this week for an adorably cute, custom made apron from Marie-Madeline Studio. She mentions that aprons are in, and she is soooo right. And since most au pairs do their fare share of cooking for kids (and their host parents too, especially those who cook well!), a sweet apron would be fun to wear and a definite pick-me-up on days when you’d rather not be cooking.

For a chance to win an apron and be the most stylish au pair around, visit

http://www.hearthmanagement.com/2009/03/dress-for-success-and-giveaway-its-real.html?showComment=1237860600000#c4209082308129715562

p.s. don’t take too long to get your entry in – the giveaway ends March 27 at midnight!

blogging about your host family – proceed with caution

While blogging might be a great way to journal about the joys and frustrations you’re experiencing as an au pair, having a live, public blog about life with your host family  is something you should think twice about. Host families – even the coolest, most easygoing of host families – would probably rather not have their dirty laundry aired publicly on the world wide web. If you value your job and your relationship with your host parents, you’ll be very careful in what you write about them and their children on the internet.

Of course, if it is entirely anonymous and/or entirely positive, you might be able to pull if off. But if your blog can be traced to you and your family, then it might better to hold off – or else censor your thoughts – while you are living with and dependent on – your host family. Another option is to blog only (or at least mostly) about your life experiences beyond the au pair job, leaving the host family out of it. Considering all that you’re probably experiencing, you will probably be able to keep busy with the details of life outside your host family’s four walls.

If you still really want to keep a detailed account of your life as an au pair, including all the ups and downs, then do so, but save it for later. You can easily create a file to save your ‘diary’ entries, to consider posting online later (perhaps way later, depending on the content!). You can even change names to protect you and your host family.

Whatever you decide, keep your host family’s privacy, and your pride, in mind. In today’s world of brutal online honesty, prudence may be best!