Looking back on my Au Pair year, I experienced a lot. I learned how to deal with energized kids who are hooked on sugar, I learned to cook for myself (we all bragged about cooking the most nutritious meal for our host kids, but let’s face, side salad with pasta does not count!) I experienced the American culture, I learned how to communicate with my host family but most importantly, I learned how to travel.
Once I received that well earned $195.75 at the end of the week, I took off to the internet to search for the perfect weekend getaway. Whether it was a trip to Niagara Falls or Florida, I was always organized and prepared for my journey. I was never a last minute packer. I usually find myself packing more of my belongings for a short weekend away! When you’re on vacation all you want to do is relax and forget your au pair responsibilities so we’ve developed a few tips to consider before and during traveling.
1) Do you really need 5 extra pair of shoes for a one week vacation? You’re going to be doing a lot of sight seeing which means a lot of walking. By the end of the day, your feet are going to ache. Remember to pack responsibly.
2) Phone (don’t forget your charger), money (make sure you’ve exchanged currencies if need be), sunglasses or a coat and umbrella (depending on the weather) and most importantly, clothes and toiletries! It’s okay to forget to pack a few things and after all, we are human. You can always purchase what you need when you arrive at your destination.
3) There’s nothing more embarrassing than wearing an “I Heart NY T-shirt.” I’ve seen several au pairs wear this and it doesn’t do you any favors, fashion wise or not. You need to blend into the place of your destination and T-shirts like these scream “I’m a tourist!” This can make you an easy target to rob especially in popular tourist cities. New York may be the city where dreams come true, but don’t let it rob your hopes and dreams. The most horrific holiday experience is the last thing you want.
4) If you’re traveling by air, remember to purchase travel insurance. Flights are like host kids -they’re unpredictable. They’ll make you late, stress you out and make you feel overwhelmed. And always buy your plane tickets weeks/months in advance for cheaper deals.
5) Be cautious when using public transport. Be conscious of your belongings and try not to show off your fancy camera, smartphone or money, especially if you’re traveling in groups.
6) It’s convenient to plan ahead. Figuring out the top places you want to visit makes your trip worthwhile, but you may not have time for this if you’re constantly running after your host kids. Instead, you can usually find maps of the city. Grab one of these, close your eyes and pick a travel attraction and go!
7) “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me where you have traveled.” Try to visit as many cities as you can! Meet different people, taste different cuisines, see the world.