Top 10 Tips – Au Pair Guide to a Successful Working Vacation with your Host Family
Prepared by Joan Barth, Orientation Leader, APIA
Traveling with your host family can be a wonderful adventure and significant part of your
cultural exchange experience. When it is a ‘working vacation’ (you do not have a choice about
participating) there are some things that you and your family can do to help the vacation go
smoothly for all.
10. Vacation Stages: Think about a working vacation as a three-part experience and that you
have a role in each stage. The parts are: Pre-Vacation Preparation, The Vacation, and Re-Entry.
Going on vacation is great, but there’s a lot of work on either end. You are part of the vacation
9. Pre-Vacation: Think about how you can help the host parents, how you can prepare the kids
and how you can prepare yourself.
8. Helping the parents: Can you pack for the children? Can you prepare snacks? Can you
entertain the children while the host parents pack? Can you do some errands for the parents?
7. Preparing the children: It’s more than packing. Can you be an educator and get books or go
online to research the area you will visit? Can you help the children to organize/collect their
media and entertainment for the trip? How about making a busy bag for smaller children?
Involve the children in deciding on and preparing snacks for the trip.
6. Preparing yourself: Ask your host parents for information about the trip. You will feel
better if you know the details. Those details might include: the exact dates of the trip, location
and contact information, will any other friends or family members be joining, is special clothing
or equipment needed? More questions: are there any special events (anniversary celebrations,
reunions), what about the work schedule, how can I plan for my free time? Take care of
business: International Travel? Check on visa and DS2019 requirements. Notify your counselor
of your travel plans and ask your counselor to connect you with a counselor in the area you will
visit so that you can meet other au pairs. Research the area so that you can fully enjoy your free
5. Good to know: Program rules for hours, free days, and pay are the same when you are on a
working vacation. However, it’s also important to recognize that a change in location and
schedules may require some flexibility on everyone’s part.
4. General Safety Issues: Everything is different when you are en route to your vacation
destination and at the destination. Therefore, everyone (host parents and au pairs) need to be
very clear about who is responsible for each child AT ALL TIMES. Do not make any
assumptions about this. Be sure to have a very clear discussion and system for assigning
responsibility at all times. Have a safety plan for amusement parks and other activities. If
everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge – and that’s when problems occur. When you
arrive at your destination be sure to conduct a safety review of the hotel room or cottage with
your host parents. That might include checking that doors, windows and electrical outlets are
safe for your little ones.
3. Water safety: You must always be with your child. Be certain that you, your host parents
and your older children have a clear understanding of water rules and expectations for them, too.
Don’t forget sunscreen for your kids and that it needs to be reapplied. And, of course, don’t
forget sunscreen for yourself!
2. Travel safety for you: Please remember that this is a new location for you, too, and it’s
important to follow basic safety rules. Ask your host parents for advice about areas you might
visit and how to safely get to them. What’s the best/safest transport? Let people know where you
are going – we care about you. A stranger is a stranger, even in an exotic location.
1. Re-Entry: Travel is fun and it’s exhausting for everyone – please remember to offer help
unloading the car, unpacking, putting in some laundry or keeping the children entertained while
your host parents attend to these tasks. And, of course, saying thank you goes a long way.