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The Au Pair Life: An Experience Everyone Should Try

The world is beautiful and the time to see it is NOW! Here, I’ll combine firsthand travel accounts as an au pair with influencer testimonies.

outside patio with floral spring background
All Images by Catherine Furby

Close your eyes and imagine this: You just got done traveling by train, and you place your bags down by your sides to search the busy station for a sign with your name. The sun is beating down on you, so you raise your hand to your forehead to shade the light.

Finally, you see it and the smiling faces of the family you’ll be working for as an au pair for the rest of the summer beaming at you through the crowd. You run over and immediately feel at home. 

At the beginning of summer ‘23, the scene above was my reality, and it can be yours too!

Living the Dream

As an au pair in Northern Italy, I spent my weekdays running through mountain fields and climbing trees with the three little boys under my care. I was hired to help the children learn English.

While I did succeed, they probably taught me way more than I could have ever dreamed of teaching them. Those three boys showed me how to rediscover unabashed joy, thrive in spontaneity, and place patience as a virtue above all. Working with these children was truly an adventure of a lifetime.

My weekends, on the other hand, were filled with another type of adventure. I worked five days a week and used the money from the job to take trains and visit beautiful places all over the country. By the end of my three months, I managed to visit six cities in Italy and one in Austria and spend a two-week holiday in Croatia.

My solo travels were filled with tourist sightseeing, lots of hiking and swimming, but most importantly, befriending the locals who would bring me to their favorite spots. I met some of the most incredible people along the way. The best part, however, was meeting new parts of myself that I wasn’t aware were there before.

How I Did It

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering: “How on earth did a nineteen-year-old college student land an au pair job in Italy that allowed her to travel for three months straight?”

And that is a fair question! Fear not, my friends below I will detail the way.

It began one random October night. Having just moved countries for college, the awareness that the whole world was at my fingertips was starting to sink in. I knew I wanted to travel, but the problem in place was the money to do so. I threw my hair up and flipped open my laptop across my legs, sitting criss-cross applesauce on my bed. With the blinking search bar staring back at me, I typed: ways to travel for cheap. 

The Solution?

I stumbled upon aupair.com immediately. With a quick search to see if it was credible, I made a spur-of-the-moment account and went to bed, not expecting much from it. The next morning I woke up to a message from a family that later would become some of the most impactful people in my life, unbeknownst to me at the time.

After messaging back and forth with the family, we set up a Zoom call interview. In this interview, they asked me questions about my experience with children and how I would be able to manage theirs. They left the room at the end of the call for me to ask questions as well. Then, we planned another interview for a later time to give them time to think.

After the second interview, they told me they would text me if I was the chosen candidate as their au pair. Throughout this process, I was really only speaking seriously to this family, so I had my fingers crossed.

Surprise surprise! I got the job.

Whether it's an every-day view or once in a lifetime, travelling as an au pair can present you with some beautiful moments.

Preparation

Before going, here are a few things you’ll need to do.

  1. Exchange contact information with the family from the website. They will be your biggest support!
  2. Plan, Plan, Plan! For me, traveling was a very important aspect of the job, so I coordinated all my days off ahead of time and I planned trips before I even arrived in Italy.
  3. Do some research! I booked all my hostels in advance because Italy is crazy busy in the summer. During that booking, I looked up fun things to do around the cities I would be staying in.
  4. Trains! This one is important, but you don’t have to do it too far in advance. Italia Rail is very easy to use and you can book trains on the website just a couple of days before your trip. It’s eco-conscious and affordable!
  5. As for the job, come ready to handle anything children will throw at you. You need to be easygoing and able to adapt. But most importantly, you need to be ready to make everything fun.

You can too!

Throughout my travels, I met many people similar to me. Right down the street in the little town I lived in, there was a woman around my age. While, my goal was to travel as much as possible, Emily’s focus au pairing was to be immersed in the language, she said.

“My language skills improved so much,” said Emily. “I feel like I got to authentically engage with a different culture, and I think I grew more over those months than any other.”

She recommends an experience working abroad for all those considering it.

“Au Pairing could at times be stressful, tiring, isolating, but ultimately it was magical. I can’t talk about it without falling into an Eat Pray Love cliché. I split my summer between working in Süd Tirol (where I could speak German) and Rome (where my Duolingo Italian often failed me), and both places have my heart. I went into the experience uncertain of what to expect, and left with two adoptive Italian families. The warmth with which they embraced me made the experience so special.”

Emily Hufton

Options upon options!

There is more out there than just au pairing!

Travel influencer Sierra Fernald is a perfect example of more options to travel while working. She volunteers for free accommodation around Europe through the organization Worldpackers. Fernald is currently living and working in Colombia as a bartender. I asked Sierra if she feels that she is saving a significant amount of money doing her volunteer work as opposed to just backpacking and staying in hostels.

“So far, yes. So much so. I’ve been able to have quite a few “no spend days” already. & if i need to buy something, it’s typically just dinner bc i get breakfast & lunch for free here too. & if i really wanna do it cheaply I can get pasta & pasta sauce & that’ll be my dinner for like 2-3 days & only costs $2”

Sierra Fernald

In addition to saving money, Sierra feels that working while traveling allows for a much realer experience rather than surface-level touring.

“Even on the small scale of getting to know the permanent staff here, they’ve introduced me to a bunch of cultural traditions & stuff. Then also getting to walk around the same town every day, just short pleasantries has been fun to be included into in a space that’s so separate from what I know back home.”

Sierra Fernald

Go out and see the world!

Traveling can be for everyone, even college students with student debt! Seek opportunity, plan, and experience. The world is waiting for you.

Using free time to travel the country leads you all sorts of places!
Written By

Hello! My name is Katie and I'm a travel writer for Trill Mag. I'm from Chicago, but currently living in Dublin, Ireland for college at TCD. I'm OBSESSED with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer, and writing is a wonderful outlet for all that life on the road has taught me. It's beautiful to be alive!

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. lily

    December 27, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    Super inspiring!

  2. Sue

    December 27, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    I’m a bit long in the tooth for this biz myself, but think this aupair life style sounds smashing!! Appreciate all the details Katie! Look forward to hearing about future travels from you! Write on amiga!!

  3. Anne Haser

    December 27, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    What great insights and step-by-step instructions on how to do it. Thank you!

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