Colombian au pair Laura Betancourt hasn’t let a single day go to waste during her year as an pair. She takes advantage of every opportunity she has to see more of the USA, both with her host family and with friends. Below she shares how she has been able to see so much of this country in such a short time along with her best travel tips for other au pairs.
I’ve always liked to travel, and travel is one of my passions. Since I was little my parents always took me on many trips in my home country of Colombia, so I’ve been able to travel in most parts of my country. When I decided to become an au pair, I saw it as an opportunity to improve my English, meet new people, make wonderful memories and also to explore this country.
When I first arrived, I was in New York (1) of course to spend five days at the Cultural Care Au Pair Training School. After that, I was living with a family in Pennsylvania (2). Things didn’t work out with them, but I enjoyed the couple months that I was there and I had the chance to explore nearby. I moved to Massachusetts (3), and that’s when the real adventure started for me! My new host family was wonderful, and I made tons of new friends. I started a “Places to See” list to keep a track of my trips.
I love all the things that any regular girl likes: to go shopping, go out with friends, get dinner. I’ve also taken several classes while I’ve been here, but more than anything I want to travel. So I do all those other things, but I always save money for my trips! My first trip was to Washington, D.C. during Memorial Day weekend last year with some friends from MA.
My second trip was to the West Coast during the summer of 2015. I had the opportunity to travel to 9 states on that side of the country: California (4), Arizona (5), Utah (6), Wyoming (7), Nevada (8), Montana (9), South Dakota (10), Idaho (11), Colorado (12). I spent the first week with friends from Massachusetts exploring California and the Grand Canyon. After that I was in San Diego at a friend’s house and then traveled around to some of the national parks including Yellowstone, Arches and Mount Rushmore with au pair friends I made in California. I spent the rest of the summer on Cape Cod with my host family.
At the end of my first year, I decided to extend but with a different host family. My new family is wonderful, too, and I’m still living in MA, but now in Downtown Boston. My new family took me to Chicago in August so—Illinois (13), check! My second host family gave me time off during the last two weeks of the year so I traveled down to Atlanta, Georgia (14) where I have friend from home. I spent Christmas with them and then traveled to Orlando, Florida (15) to spend the last week of the year enjoying Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks. This was a dream come true for me!
A new year started and new plans were made. My host family took me to ski to Vail, Colorado on January. In March I will travel to Miami to spend my birthday with friends from home that live down there. I already have tickets to go to Seattle, Washington (16) and Portland, Oregon (17) in May with a friend. I’ve also done day or weekend trips to NYC, New Jersey (18), Connecticut (19) and Rhode Island (20), and I’m hoping to visit Vermont (21), New Hampshire (22) and Maine (23) during spring and summer. And I’m still trying to figure out how to finish my “Places to See” list which include New Orleans, Louisiana (24); Nashville, Tennessee (25); Austin, Texas (26); Charleston, South Carolina (27) and Savannah, Georgia!
To see so many different places, I always check with my host family far in advance for available dates to travel. I try to make the most of my vacation weeks and other days I’m off-duty. Tuesday night is the perfect time to find cheap flights, and I have learned that an early or late flight is usually cheaper. I’m a very talkative and outgoing person, and every day I feel more comfortable with my English. This helps me make new friends easily, and the more friends you have, the more places you have to visit! Staying at a hostel is another cheap and fun way to enjoy a place. My recommendation is to travel light always—my backpack is my best travel buddy. Use public transportation when it is available. I also love to walk, and when it is safe and short, I would rather walk than pay for transportation.
Thanks to Laura for telling us all about her travels as an au pair in the USA. If you’ve got something to say don’t be shy! Share your story with us.