How to make money and travel the world as an Au Pair, it’s easier than you think…
What exactly is an Au Pair?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play with Lego every day, put on face paints, watch Disney Movies on repeat and generally get in touch with being a big kid all over again? You may think this couldn’t possibly be a legitimate way to make money. But it is.
Alongside the finger painting, hair braiding and packing lunches you’ll also be getting paid a wage, given accommodation and possibly even getting the chance to travel the world. Au-Pairing is a lot like babysitting (as you might have guessed) but with a bunch of other duties thrown in, let me give you the low-down…
Being an Au-Pair generally, involves helping a family out with their kids so that the parents can spend more time hustling at work. Au Pairs often help out with a whole range of household tasks including doing the shopping, looking after the pets, driving the kids around and keeping the house clean; basically, you become a super-mummy on steroids and help run the whole home operation.
6 reasons why you would LOVE to travel the world as an Au Pair!
1. See the world through a child’s eyes
Children are tiny humans with an amazing way of seeing the world through innocence, curiosity and playfulness. Something that we as adults sometimes forget to do. To get to be a part of that and ultimately help to shape young people is a beautiful experience. You can’t really travel the world as an Au Pair if you don’t like kids. So if you are the kinds who gets upset easily by crying babies on flights, this is probably not the job for you.
2. Get paid to live abroad and make new amigos
Making the move to live abroad can be daunting, expensive, and honestly does need some heavy duty balls. Au Pairing abroad lets you stay with a family who can help you out with figuring out the basics of your new home. Make the most of it and soon you will be killing it, feeling so cool about yourself and making new friends who can help show you the hidden side of their country.
3. You get to be a part of a family
Use your gut instinct and senses when meeting families for the first time to assess whether the family feels like the right choice. In my experience, it’s in the family’s best interest to treat you as well as possible. After all, you are looking after their pride and joy (read blood and guts)!
4. Explore a new place
Use your time off wisely! Some families may only require you to work 30 hours a week (the legal requirement) which leaves you so much time to galavant around the place. Whether it’s checking out the local countryside whilst Au Pairing in France or having it large in Berlin. See! Traveling the world as an au pair can be real.
5. Meet new peeps
You can meet up with some awesome people through local Facebook groups and Au Pairing websites. Sites like Meet Up are awesome to find chilled out, like minded peeps to hang out with!
6. Experience a new culture
The awesome part about traveling the world as an Au Pair is that you actually get to experience the place as a resident rather than as a fleeting tourist. Learn a new language, shake a leg to some crazy local beats, eat some weird shit – just go for it!
Cons of getting work as an Au Pair
1. If children are not your scene
Children are eagle eyed sponges (read clever little devils)! They observe and take in everything. If you don’t enjoy working with them, without a doubt – they will realise this and they will make your life hell.
2. If you get homesick
If you struggle with homesickness and hate being away from home, then taking a job half way across the world isn’t the wisest move. My advice would be, try it and figure if this is for you or not and to bear in mind that once you leave home, things can change.
3. If you need to be academically motivated
Au Pairing involves feeding and playing with young children, doing the school run, packing lunches, preparing dinner, helping children do their homework, playing games and so on- not exactly the kind of work you would call ‘academically’ challenging though it comes with its fair share of challenges. However, the amount of responsibility bestowed upon you (a person’s life almost) will look great on anyone’s resume.
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How to become an Au Pair and travel the world
The Qualifications You Need
Firstly, you need to be between 18-26 years old. Though it’s a job for both men and women a majority of Au Pair roles are taken by females. I did an NVQ level 3 qualification in Childcare whilst in a paid job in the UK. This was advantageous in me securing an Au Pair job although I wouldn’t say it was crucial. Prior experience working with children, however, can be very useful. Read Become an Au Pair for more information.
The Experience You Need
Often the Au Pair websites may look for documented time of childcare experience. Get creative with your resume. There may be experiences you’ve had in childcare that you’re not considering worthy enough to include for instance volunteering projects involving work with children. Include them. Every little bit adds up. Many people want to travel the world as an Au Pair so competition can be fierce; make sure you stand out!
Here’s what is required of all Au Pairs at Great AuPair:
Where To Learn The Skills If You Need To
Though you can study many different courses in childcare from college level to University, my advice would be to Travolunteer- volunteer on your travels. Try finding projects involving kids so it furthers your Au Pairing dream. You may think you have the most innocent face and a squeaky clean conscience but unfortunately, you need a little more than that- a criminal check. For more tips, read TA Today. Childcare websites have great videos on parenting and childcare, disciplining and setting boundaries etc, Supernanny being my favourite. Go through these especially if you think you are a push over and find it hard to be firm. Read more about being a great Au Pair here.
How Much It Costs To Become an Au Pair
How much this will cost you comes down to if you choose to do a course or choose to learn on the job. You could enrol in a college or take an online course. Some websites that help you to find an Au Pair job may charge an enrollment fee to set you up with a profile on their website but many like Great Aupair are free.
Generally, any costs incurring in your home country will be paid by you. These may include: expenses for visa, medical checks, tickets etc. If you are already traveling in a country and decide to work there, the family will pay for your cost; usually, your return flight and any language courses if necessary. In general, when you travel the world as an Au Pair you will find most of your costs are covered.
The Physical Tools You Need to Au Pair
Au Pairing isn’t generally an expensive job to sustain but in my experience, here are a few must have items.
A standard smartphone: A smartphone is a great start for keeping in touch with the parents, especially if they are the paranoid kind.
A handover book: Keep a note on the child’s sickness, behaviours, food intake etc. in a diary, you never know when it may come handy. It also serves as a great alibi ( if ever you might need one) and testament to your diligent ways.
A bag or satchel: I love bags with tons of pockets. If you are an Au Pair you never know what the child may need next; a chocolate bar or a snot-free napkin, you gotta be the super nanny and have all bases covered.
Story cubes. These beauties will help you come up with stories on the go so you don’t have to worry about being super creative all the time. Distract those little monkeys by a new story every time!
How to find paid work as an Au Pair abroad
Practical Things You Need To Know And Have
An up-to-date criminal background check, basic first aid training, some form of childcare qualification and great character references are things you should ideally have in your kitty before you venture out to be an Au Pair. And of course, it always helps to be a smooth talker.
There may be costs involved in the visa process that you can maybe get the employer to cover. Check out Visa Map to see if your passport has any working visa restrictions.
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Where To Find Au Pair Work Online
Where To Find Au Pair Work Offline?
This can be as simple as putting up adverts in a local newspaper, leaving flyers out at local meetups for mums, in churches or community centres, speaking to other travellers, locals, schools. Networking is the key!
Factors To Consider When Looking For a Job As An Au Pair
Length of contract; Does this fit with your plans and are there any financial tie-ins to breaking your contract early should you need to do so.
Working solo; You will mostly be working alone. If working with people is your thing then probably Au pairing isn’t.
Living in at your job; With this job, it may be hard to differentiate between the house you are living in and the place you work at. So consider this before you jump into the contract.
Travel the world as an Au Pair and earn a fortune (ish).
The top three highest average payment for an Au Pair right now are…
The Middle East: 1800 USD-4300 USD per month
Australia: 1000 USD per month
Belgium: 500 USD per month
Places like Dubai and Australia are pretty amazing with plenty of options for international food and good nightlife, Saudi Arabia and Yemen… not so much. Europe, in general, is great to Au Pair in, with a lot of options for cheap local food and cool places to hang out at but the money is nowhere near as good as in The Middle East. Working in Abu Dhabi, in particular, is a stellar way to earn solid cash.
Case Study on travelling the world as an Au-Pair
So here’s my take on travelling the world as an Au Pair. I took the less conventional route into it. I moved to the Middle East in 2012 at the age of 27 with a background in Community Development in Drugs and Alcohol Education. I started out teaching English to locals in Dubai as a way to get extra cash before working as a Teaching assistant in a special needs school. I was looking for a more permanent rooting in Dubai so I posted a free profile on Great Aupair and within weeks I had numerous offers already. I took up a job as an Au Pair to three children aged 4, 4 and 6.
My experience travelling the world as an Au Pair has been great. I instantly clicked with my family. My day starts at 6.30am by getting the kids ready to leave for school. After the school run at 7.40am, I am free to do as I please until pick up at 2.20pm (that is unless I have any other jobs to do). These can include- booking appointments for the kids, meeting a teacher at school, arranging after-school playdates and activities, booking after school clubs and sports etc, grocery shopping, buying uniform, preparing dinner and making sure we have things set up in preparation for their return from school. Phew! Luckily they provide me with a car for work which makes things considerably faster. I leave work at 6.30pm and only work weekdays so I have the weekends to get my travel shades on!
My holidays are restricted to when they take their holidays and UAE public holidays (of which there are many). Once a year I travel with them on holiday (and for free!). So far I’ve visited Thailand, Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Oman and the USA. It really is possible to score free travel around the world as an Au Pair and for this reason alone, Au Pairing is one of the most awesome traveler jobs out there…
I prefer my setup of living out. It gives me the opportunity to clock off from Au Pairing and unwind on my drive home. I would, however, save a lot more money if I opted to live in with them.
Dubai’s cost of living is high! From eating and drinking out to rent and bills. Salaries are higher but its matched with high living costs. There’s the opportunity to save a lot in this line of work though.
If I had to pick the cons of being an Au Pair in Dubai for me, I would say the summer heat which sometimes gets to 50 degrees with insane humidity. Being a Muslim country we also have Ramadan. ( a religious month of fasting) It is against the law in Dubai for anyone to be seen in public eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum during daylight hours, regardless of being non-Muslims. For me, this impacts working in the heat. Having said that, I feel two scorching hot months in the year are a small price to pay for waking up to the glorious blue skies.
Another con would be the super busy after school programmes. Children tend to play instruments, often two. They are encouraged to join up to almost every club from sports to horse riding to skiing and swimming. For me, this has been a bit tricky to manage. But I can’t complain, after all, I get a tax free salary (no kidding!).
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Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀
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About the Author: Kirsty Beveridge
Kirsty Beveridge is a wannabe hippy, avid friend maker, impulsive traveler, shisha loving, lip-balm crazy, tea drinking Northerner, who will always find a reason to create yet ANOTHER ‘whatsapp group’. “Four years ago I packed up my life in small town North England and moved to the Middle East to travel the world as an Au Pair where I currently Au Pair for three wondrous little humans. When I’m not being super nanny, you’ll probably find me planning adventures, getting vertical at the climbing wall, eating mushrooms on toast, staying up past bedtime, shisha-ing too much, laughing too loud, procrastinating or crashing my car. Most likely whilst wearing no shoes. I’m about to trade in my tax-free Dubai life for hostel beds, language barriers and no real plan. All on a questionable budget-let’s hope my terrible jokes and incredible charm helps me when the money runs out… Onwards Kirstaway!