Hi! My name is Natascha and you might know me from my Christmas in the US post! I’ve been an Au Pair for 1.5 years now and I have been to 24 states so far. And with only a few months to go (and my travel month ahead) I’m trying to see as many cities/states that are on my bucket list as possible. I’ve been on a lot of weekend trip but also two kind of big road trips, that’s why I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that helped me organize those trips.
1. Plan as much in advance as possible
First of all, at the beginning of your year or even when you are an Au Pair already and you just want to plan your trips, write down a list of places, cities, states etc. you want to see. Talk to your host family to make sure you know about every weekend that you’re off or every long weekend you could use to travel. Also talk to them as soon as possible about your two weeks of paid vacation, that way everybody can plan ahead!
2. Set price alarms
Once you know where to go use price alarms on travel apps to help you book the cheapest flight tickets/accommodations etc. for the time you want to go there. I always look up my flights on “Hopper”. This app shows you when the cheapest days to fly are. I set a price alarm for the day(s) I want to go, and the app sends me notifications if the price goes up or down, that way I can book the cheapest flights!
3. Take buses instead of renting a car
Renting a car in America is super expensive, especially if you’re under 25, you’ll have to pay an extra fee. If it’s possible I take the bus for my weekend trips. I always use apps like “Wanderu” (the app compares prices for you) or Flixbus – my friends and I actually found tickets to Washington DC for $1 – we obviously booked this trip super spontaneous!
If you really have to rent a car, I can recommend the app “Rentalcars”, it compares prices from different car rental companies near you. If I have to rent a car I go with people who are either 25+ years so we don’t have to pay the fee or I ask as many friends as possible (well, as many as can fit in one car lol) if they want to come, that way it gets cheaper for all of us.
4. If possible, don’t plan trips during peak seasons (spring break, Christmas, etc.)
As all of you probably already know prices rises during spring break, long weekends, Christmas, etc. so the cheapest way to organize trips is talking to your host family and planning a trip (if their schedule allows for it) during a normal school week – always check spring break in different states as they can vary.
5. Use cheap accommodations
During your year you’ll definitely learn to prioritize. As for me, I’d rather save money on accommodation as I spend most of my time outside exploring anyways. When it comes to planning trips I usually use apps like “Airbnb” or “Hostelworld” as it is much cheaper than staying in a hotel. This way you can also get cheap groceries at Walmart etc. and just cook breakfast/lunch/dinner yourself. I actually just went on a trip with 3 girls – 2 of whom I literally met 2 weeks ago at an AuPair meeting – and we had the best time! You get to know people so much better when spending time traveling together.
I went on two bigger road trips in my first year. My first trip was through Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. My second trip was a tough one and we started in Texas and went from there to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
So, use as much of your free time for traveling! Time flies by so fast and thinking back now those travel memories are honestly the best!