How To Become An Au Pair And What To Expect

Want to travel in your twenties, but can’t afford it? I have you covered with this travel guide on how to become an au pair and work abroad.

Do you absolutely love working with kids? Do you have a desire to travel? Why not combine both passions and become an au pair? Wondering what an au pair even is or does?

An au pair is a young adult who travels to help a family with light housework and caring for their child(ren) in exchange for free accommodation and meals. Au pairs also receive a monthly allowance from their host family.

The average minimum allowance is usually €260. This, of course, depends on where you go. It´s not much, but you don´t have to pay for your board or food.

It’s an unique opportunity to experience a new country in an unusually close and personal way. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, it is. I know this firsthand from my experience working as an au pair in Germany for a year.

So, now that I have you interested in becoming an au pair, it’s time to to get down to details.

1. What do you want?

woman teaching a girl

To begin, create an online profile for yourself as an au pair. There are various websites that connect you to prospective host families for free. There are even au pair recruiting agencies to help potential au pairs find the right host family.

Filling out an au pair profile can feel a lot like creating a dating profile. You will be asked various things, such as: How many kids do you want to watch? Which country would you like to travel to?

What kind of area do you want to live in (country, suburb, city, etc.)? How long would you like to stay? These are all important factors that you must consider in order to have a positive experience as an au pair.

One of the reasons I choose to go to Germany is because Germany is located in the center of Europe, which made it easier to travel to nearby countries.

2. The nitty-gritty

woman braiding girl's hair

Once you connect with a family that you are interested in, the next step is to Skype with them. This way, you get to know each other and discuss questions that you both may have. This is also a good way to see if you connect with the family.

Be picky with the family you choose. It´s important to like your future host family. These are the people you will be living with and working for.

You will likely need a work visa, too, unless you happen to be from and work in the EU. Don´t stress! Your host family will help you with that. Make sure you pay attention to which countries you´re able to work in as an au pair.

For example, I initially wanted to go to England, but because I´m from America and not part of the European Union I was unable to do so. Again, each country has their own rules for au pairs. There are plenty of available resources that provide you with the information you need.

Once you find the right family for you, a contract is signed between you and your host family. Part of the contract goes over your duties and hours. The average work hours for an au pair is 30-35 hours a week, so you almost always have your weekends free to travel. Au pairs also usually receive 20 days’ vacation in a year contract.

Being an au pair does not mean that you are also the housemaid. At most, you will be required to do light housework, such as laundry, setting and clearing the table, vacuuming, etc.

3. The benefits

girl traveling with map

One great thing about being an au pair is that your host family will take you along when they go on vacation. Yes, that could very well mean going to a five-star hotel to an island in Greece for free.

Being an au pair gives you amazing opportunities to travel. You’ll also have more time to travel and explore on your own since you’ll be in the country longer than the average tourist who is also dealing with a tight itinerary and jetlag.

Another great advantage to being an au pair is that you can learn a new language. Plus, since you are surrounded by the language on a daily basis, you pick it up much faster. Au pairs can also attend nearby languages courses, which is a great way to meet new people and other au pairs. Your host family helps with the costs for your language course.

Before I became an au pair, I was an active, full-time college student with a part-time job. Being an au pair was a completely different pace for me. Compared to the stress that comes with being a college student, I didn’t have as many responsibilities anymore, such as having to pay rent every month.

As an au pair, you have time to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Besides, taking a gap year to travel is such a positive growing experience.

Perhaps the greatest part of the experience though is the relationship that you will form you’re your host family’s children. The experience of watching your host kid(s) grow is something genuinely beautiful.

You are there for their every step and new experience and become more like an older sibling to them than an employee. Au pairs become part of the family, so the experience has the added benefit of giving you a second family and another place to call home. Who wouldn´t want that?

Are you thinking of being an au pair or have you been one in the past? Please share with us your thoughts and experiences!

About the author


Sophisticated & fabulous. From Minnesota now living in Germany. I'll be whatever I want to be. Always full of cabernet savurigon and dark sarcasm. My husband is a red headed German man. With a beard of course.

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