For beginners: The term AU PAIR describes people who go abroad to work as a home help in a host family. They are live-in home help from another country.
Read the first 2 parts of the au pair series:
Finding a good travel buddy is harder than ever. The high cost of accommodation and transportation adds up to the challenges of traveling.
I noticed that traveling with au pair friends solves both problems. They are good company for trips and expert economists when it comes to saving money.
I was honored to travel with au pairs to several cities in the US. Here are 7 preparation steps I follow before traveling with an au pair.
1. Be ready to sleep in the car
This is the most challenging part of traveling with an au pair: spending nights in the car… for days! An au pair brain works like this: “Hotels are expensive. Hostels are dirty and loud. No time to find a couchsurfing host. Let’s sleep in the car”.
I tried to intervene this process and convince them to spend nights in a more civilized way. In some cases I had to separate from the group and stay at a hotel by myself.
The truth is that it’s the cheapest way of accommodation! (It’s actually free if you exclude the car rental cost). However, there are downsides to sleeping in a car. Firstly, it’s not legal in many states. Secondly, it’s not safe in many areas. Thirdly, it’s NOT COMFORTABLE AT ALL!
From Jack to all au pair friends: please consider booking a hotel room and sharing the cost! It’s more affordable than hostels and AirBNB if 2 or more people stay in the same room.
2. Be ready to eat from supermarkets
I discovered the approach of eating at supermarkets thanks to au pairs. Here is how it works: You are doing a road trip. You are hungry. Instead of pulling over at a fast food chain or a restaurant, you go to Target, Walmart, or Safeway to buy a packaged cold sandwich and eat it in the parking lot or car while driving to your destination.
It’s a perfect way to save money and time if your stomach is fine with continuous consumption of cold sandwiches. You may want to practice it and see how your body does before the trip.
3. Be ready to listen to music in extremely high volume
Au pairs have advanced ears that are resistant to extreme levels of sound. For a regular person like me the volume of music they listen to in the car is too high. I make sure to carry a pair of earplugs during my travels with au pair friends.
Travels (especially road trips) are fun and exciting. However, it doesn’t require screaming every time you see a “Welcome to X State” sign or listening to music at volume 30 (the highest level in most cars).
Folks who have sensitive ears, be sure to have earplugs before hitting the road. These ones work well for au pair levels of high volume: http://amzn.to/2t9cixX
4. Be ready to check out 284,629 places in one day
There are 2 types of vacations: ones that are full of action (sightseeing and discovering) and ones that are full of relaxation (like lying in the sun all day).
With my au pair friends I rarely had relaxing vacations. They have exceptional skills of making sightseeing plans and seeing the maximal number of places in the given time. I fully discover the cities we visit in a short time thanks to energy bars and drinks. That’s the only way I can keep up with my au pair friends.
5. Be ready to listen to gossips about host families and guys
One of the things I enjoy most while traveling with my au pair friends are stories and gossip. What I hear from them ranges from their first date experiences to how the host mum cheated on her husband.
Before starting the trip they may ask you to take an oath for not telling anyone what you hear 🙂
6. Be ready to take 300 photos per hour
Your photography career may start on your first trip with au pairs. Even if they say they love their moms or boyfriends more than anyone, don’t believe them. They love taking photos the most!
Don’t forget to put your selfie stick in your backpack. It will reduce the time you spend behind the phone. More importantly, you will be a celebrity by appearing on au pairs’ timelines 🙂
7. Be ready to meet MORE au pairs
Once you become friends with an au pair, there is no going back. They will introduce you to more au pairs and you will find yourself being part of the magical world of the au pair community. That’s the time you go back and remember what you thought about that plan: “It’s just a trip!”