Audrey took a gamble when she decided to quit her 3 jobs and buy a one-way ticket to Milan to become an au pair.
"Everyone thought I was crazy, but that was the best decision I have ever made in my life! I've become emerged in a new culture, learned a foreign language, got to travel to different countries, and am the happiest I've ever been in my life!"
Audrey is an American girl living in Milan, Italy with a 7-year-old girl (Anna), 2-year-old boy (Alessandro), and host parents (Roberta & Maurizio). "I get my own private bedroom and bathroom in Milan for free – it’s a dream!"
Are you considering becoming an au pair? Or are you an au pair looking for tips on how to travel more? Keep reading for Audrey’s tips!
An au pair is a nanny from a different country who, in exchange for work, gets free accommodation, free food, and pocket money!
So many people have asked me how I knew my host family was the right one. Well, let me tell you...it took a month and a half of interviews and narrowing families down to find the right family! I had two very different offers, but I chose the family that let me have every weekend off so that I could travel.
Check the regulations of the country you're working in. If you work in Italy, Au Pair World says, "An au pair is entitled to a 2-week paid holiday if employed for six months."
In the end, it all depends on your contract. Make sure paid vacation is included! You should also be able to take this time off whenever you want.
However, to keep it professional, I would recommend planning at least a month in advance for a paid vacation. Don't wait until a few days before to tell your family "Ciao, a dopo!"
To help me save money, I have an envelope at home with the words "Travel" on it. When I get paid my pocket money, I take €50 and put it in the travel envelope. The rest is for "living" that week.
When I get my next paycheck, I add whatever was left over from my "living" money plus my new €50. This is how I can sometimes add anywhere from €50 to €80 to my travel savings.
In general, I recommend getting paid in cash, just keep a certain amount in your wallet and not allow yourself to spend more. If you don’t have the €50 on you...you can’t spend it! Another way I keep track of spendings and set budgets is with apps. So even if you prefer to pay by card, there's no excuse!
There are a lot of ways to keep the cost of your trip down. Of course, finding the best deals for transportation and accommodation options is at the top of the list!
Here are some other ways to save:
Plan ahead! Transportation and accommodation prices are often cheaper when you book in advance.
Be flexible with when you leave. I often leave early Saturday morning to save on accommodation for Friday night. You could also consider taking a night bus.
Don’t eat at tourist locations. The prices are often a lot higher. I tend to stop at a bakery for a quick lunch and look for a more local place for dinner. Sometimes this means spending a little more time walking around rather than just eating at the first place you see.
Buy groceries! Get your breakfast, snacks and drinks from the supermarket.
Avoid tourist traps. Don’t buy the first souvenir you see, rather shop around to get the best deals. I once bought a €18 scarf in Venice. Ten minutes later, we found a place that sold €5 scarves!
I would highly recommend saying yes to a holiday with your host family! Not only is it a free vacation, you'll get paid, and I think it's important to spend time with your family. Even if it's outside of your scheduled time, this is when you really get to know the kids and the parents. You will get to see them outside of the stresses of daily life and get to know them as they are when they are just relaxed and having fun.
My final tip is more of a request – before deciding to become an au pair, please do make sure you love children!
Do you have more questions about being an au pair? Read Audrey's blog for more tips!