As an au pair, you get the chance to travel and see different places. And you might even get the chance to travel with your host family! A host family doesn’t need to bring you with them on their vacation. They could travel without their au pair. During that time, the au pair is off and can stay at home relax or travel somewhere else! I was fortunate enough and my host family took me on their trips. In this blog, I will tell you guys about two of my trips with my host family, and I will give you some advice when traveling with your host family.
My first vacation with my host family was our trip to Aruba over spring break. I was very excited for the sun, lay on the beach, eat yummy food and so on… A fun fact about Aruba is that it is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. So this basically means that it is Dutch, which made everything even more fun and I had the opportunity to share a part of my culture!
AU PAIR OR PARENT: WHO’S IN CHARGE ON A JOINT VACAY?
I was a little nervous at first. Mainly, because I did not really know what to expect. During a normal week, I have a schedule that I follow, but on vacation, you don’t (or at least I did not). You are in charge, but not really, because your host parents are around, too. I must say that I struggled a little with that. I felt that I had to be around them all the time, and whenever I did something on my own or was on my phone in front of the kids, I felt bad.
The first night, I found out that one of my friends from Orientation in New York was also in Aruba. What a coincidence, right!? I told my host mom that she was also in Aruba, and she was very excited and wanted us to meet up. I had not even considered this, because I was on vacation with them after all.. But the next night I went out for dinner with my friend, and my host parents were totally okay with this. They told me that it is also vacation for me and I should enjoy it.
MY ARUBA FAVES
Most of the time I did spend with my host family. They rented a car, and I think during that week, we saw the whole island! Every day we did a little excursion to a beach (there were so many and all so pretty…), a site or a restaurant. Here are some of my favorite things of Aruba in chronological order:
- Baby beach
- Sunrise at Eagle beach
- The butterfly farm
- Californië lighthouse + the view of Aruba
- Oranje stad (downtown)
- Surfside beach
- Pirate boat sunset cruise
- Climbing the Hooiberg
- Cave and Natural bridge
One afternoon, my host parents decided to go back to the house so the kids could take a nap before we would go on a sunset cruise. I went to the beach where my friend was and hung out with her. We had lunch, cocktails and enjoyed the sun. It was so much fun that we met up again that night and went to a restaurant/bar with live music.
On one of the last days, my host family went to our favorite beach and since we had been there already, I decided to explore on my own. I dropped them off at the beach, and drove around and did things you can not really do with young kids. I hiked a mountain called ‘Hooiberg’, to then go and visit a cave, the gold mill ruins and the natural bridge.
It was good to spend some alone time, and after that to be back with them on the beach. Aruba was a very nice spring break, and I am glad they asked me to join them. I did not only have a lot of fun with them, and got to see this beautiful island, but also learned more about my host family (yes, everyday you will learn new things).
Not so long ago, me and my host family went on another trip. This time down south. We went to Tennessee, because my host dad’s brother was getting married, and they asked me to come with them. I was very excited to go on this trip. I have been to a couple of weddings before, but to go to one in America is extra special. We flew into Atlanta, where we stayed for a day and visited the Georgia Aquarium. The kids are super easy with flying; they are not scared, and don’t complain as long as they can just read a book or play on their Nintendos. We spent all morning and part of our afternoon at the aquarium, but we still didn’t manage to see the whole aquarium. It was so big. The kids loved it, especially the dolphin show; that was spectacular.
In the afternoon, we drove to Chattanooga where the wedding would take place. On Friday night, we had the rehearsal dinner. I had never been to one since we do not really have rehearsal dinners in the Netherlands (as far as I know). I thought it was pretty funny that they rehearse the whole wedding, but on the other side I think it is very smart, too. Everyone knows what to do, hopefully nothing awkward or weird will happen and you are very well prepared. After this rehearsal, there was a dinner for close family only.
The wedding ceremony itself was very quick but very classy and pretty. They got married in a very beautiful location. The church was on a hill and the view was astonishing: trees, trees and more trees. My host kids even played a small part in the wedding as they were the ring bearers – so they walked down the isle with music playing in the background, it was very cute. After this short ceremony, we went to another beautiful location downtown, where we first had some drinks and a snack. Inside, we had a dinner and there was a dance floor, too. I am glad to have been able that my host family took me with them. It was a lovely experience.
PUTTING MY HOST PARENTS FIRST
During this weekend, I just tried to be there for the family. I was with them all the time, so that whenever they had a call, they could just leave the room. My host mom flew in a couple days later because she had to attend a conference someplace else. And since my host dad’s brother got married, I did not want him to feel like he had to stay with the kids instead of having fun with his brother. I hope that worked out. I think in those situations, you just have to play it by ear and try to be flexible and be there for the family. When we had the rehearsal dinner, for example, I took the kids home so my host parents could stay a little long while not having to be around really tired kids. During dinner on the wedding day, I tried to keep the kids busy so they could socialize. It was hard, because at the end of the day, the kids will go to their parents to ask them stuff or whatever – but I tried, and I hope that worked and that they could enjoy the wedding.
TRIP PREP & SELF CARE
Traveling with your host family is a totally different experience than just a regular au pair week. You will see different sides of them, and they will probably see different sides of you, too. My biggest tip is too try to stay open. Communicate. Maybe start to to so even ahead of time. Discuss challenges, things you encounter before leaving and/or are not sure about. Even small things like where you are staying, do you have your own room (the same program rules that apply at home apply there too) and what they expect from you during the week(s). This way, not only you will be prepared but also your host parents are prepared and no one will be blindsided. But also manage your expectations: Things are different when traveling (bed times, snacking and anything else).
Another important thing I would like to share with you is that you all need a break. It depends of course what kind of trip it is, and what they want you to do. I spent some time in Aruba with my friend, which really helped. But mostly hiking and exploring by myself let me rest more than the 4-6 hours I would usually sleep at night. Last but not least, and for sure the most important one: be grateful that you got this opportunity to travel and enjoy it! Not all au pairs are invited on their host family’s trips and your host family might decide not to take you on a holiday with them every time..!
PS: Enjoy it, too! Holidays with kids can be very fun. I have had a blast with my host kids. I am only telling you guys my experience and I am too still learning everyday and from every thing that happens in a day. I don’t say this works for you, but this is how I did it. I love helping you guys out, and more people are starting to reach out to me. Please feel free to do so, as I know how life as an au pair can be: