March 20, 2020

Taking your au pair on a family vacation

Do’s and don’ts of traveling with your au pair

4 minutes
Advice for host families

When it comes to taking an au pair on vacation with your family, there are a lot of things to consider! Will they be there as a caregiver, and therefore expected to be on duty? Or are you inviting them along as a member of the family to simply enjoy the time away? We’ll share the answers to all of the frequently asked vacation-related questions, and the most important do’s and don’ts for taking your au pair on a family trip with you.

DO be clear and discuss expectations in advance

One popular question regarding family vacations is whether or not an au pair can come along as an “on-duty” caregiver. The answer is yes—but be sure to be very clear about your intentions and ensure that your au pair knows what is expected of them.

We recommend sitting down with your au pair and informing them of your plans—when you’re going, where you’re traveling to, and what your expectations are. If you want them to come along as a caregiver and to be responsible for your children, very clearly tell them that. And if you want to invite them along to experience the vacation as an extended member of the family who is off-duty, make that clear to them too.

DO understand your au pair’s role for the vacation

It’s important to decide early on—before even inviting your au pair—whether they will be attending as a childcare provider or for purely the enjoyment of the vacation. It determines what kind of trip the au pair will have.

If you decide to bring your au pair on vacation to work and care for the children, you should continue to treat your au pair just as you would when they are with you at home. You must pay their stipend, and provide room and board—including a private bedroom—as you normally would per the program guidelines.

If, however, you invite your au pair along for the vacation in a non-working capacity—and the au pair agrees to use their vacation time for it—different rules may apply. They’ll still be entitled to their weekly stipend but can be asked to pay for any food and admission costs incurred. Since they’re “off-duty,” it’s also okay to have them bunk with the kids in a separate room. Since your au pair will be on holiday as well, you’ll need to consider who will be in charge of watching the children—will it be you and your spouse? Another family member?

DO consider the spirit of the program

In the event that you invite your au pair along to enjoy vacation with your family, we strongly encourage you to consider the costs associated with that vacation—and to act accordingly with the spirit of the au pair program.

This means considering covering the additional costs of the vacation for your au pair, regardless of whether they will be on-or off-duty. Including their meal in the dinner tab you pick up; paying for their hotel room or not asking for a monetary contribution from them if you are all sharing a space; covering their admission into a theme park or to any other attractions; etc.

The specifics are up to you and your family—but in general, we see host families covering vacation costs for their au pair because it helps their au pair have fun, feel included, and most importantly, feel like a member of the family.

DON’T be offended if they opt out

If your au pair chooses to spend their allotted vacation time doing something else—like taking a trip with their au pair friends, for example—try not to be offended. While it’s a generous offer to extend to them, they’re here in the USA for a variety of reasons. Meeting new people and going on adventures is a big part of the au pair experience.

Do your best to be understanding and gracious if they say “thank you but no thank you” to spending some of their hard-earned vacation time with you and the kids.

DON’T be ambiguous or change your mind

Lastly, whatever you do, don’t be ambiguous or indecisive about taking your au pair with you on a family vacation. The last thing you’ll want to do is get their hopes up only to let them down—be considerate and proactive when planning your vacation. And be sure to come to a decision early on and communicate that decision so your au pair can act accordingly.

If you set clear expectations with your au pair, follow program guidelines, and follow through, then taking your au pair on vacation with you can be an incredible experience! And a chance to form memories as a family that will last a lifetime.