Create A Bucket List for Au Pair Adventures

by cv harquail on March 24, 2014

If you could create a ‘bucket’ list for any Au Pair coming to the USA, to help him or her make sure to take FULL advantage of the Au Pair adventure, what would you recommend?


Writes TexasHM:

This morning I had a random idea – what if I created for my AP a list like this for her year with us?  A list like this might help an au pair plan her/his year, keep motivated, and maybe even become the table of contents for a scrapbook?

My list would have a few different categories. One would be the ‘Universal Things For a Young Adult to See in the USA”, ideas that would work for anyone, like ‘go to a dude ranch’, or ‘see the Grand Canyon’.

And what about things that are local, maybe more family oriented?

Here are some examples I thought of for ours:

  • Family Campout
  • “haunted” hayride or house
  • make a Christmas stocking/Christmas
  • carve a pumpkin
  • dress up and go trick or treating
  • Learn to two step from an old cowboy at Billy Bob’s
  • go kayaking on the lake
  • attend Stars and Stripes festival
  • attend Oktoberfest
  • feed a giraffe at the wild animal park
  • cheer for your knight at Medieval Times
  • experience ICE! at the Gaylord Hotel
  • visit Chocolatefest (YES!)
  • take pictures in the bluebonnets (wildflowers) in the spring
  • attend a high school football game
  • tour Cowboys Stadium
  • attend a Mavericks basketball game (could fill in all sports here or just ones they like)
  • attend a minor league baseball game
  • explore a cave
  • experience a theme park
  • go to the circus
  • check out the zoo
  • try cannolis (you could do a bunch of food ones)
  • swim in a hot spring
  • climb a mountain (I am getting more generic now)
  • run a 5k (or some local race – zombies, hyper color, whatever)
  • take on the Adventure challenge and zipline
  • eat fried chicken at Babe’s
  • play softball on a local rec team
  • go to a Rangers game
  • ride a horse
  • explore Legoland
  • explore Sealife aquarium
  • check out a piano bar
  • visit the state capitol

I could do lists on Austin, San Antonio, Houston (we are in DFW), plus New Orleans, Texas as a whole, you name it!

16283090_2ffddcbd09Can we challenge the AuPairMom readers to come up with more ideas?


Images from Martinella, on Flickr


TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I thought of a couple more over the weekend:
shop at a garage sale (APs LOVE this I have no idea why)
go to a rodeo
participate in a March Madness pool
do Disney in some form or fashion (CA, FL, cruise, etc)
participate in an Easter egg hunt/festivities, dye eggs, etc
swim in the Gulf (warm water!!)
buy a pair of cowboy boots
visit the Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Eat fried margarita, fried thanksgiving dinner, fried bubblegum and fried beer at the Texas State Fair (and take a pic with Big Tex)
take a winter weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park
Celebrate Thanksgiving (and subsequent nap)

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) March 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Woow! You have made me want to go to texas!! Great idea and great list!

German Au-Pair March 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm

-find (google!) some crazy Christmas houses (like the ones that have their own radio station and have lights that flash in synch).
– travel on your own (was a major thing for me and the final step to idependence)
– ride a cable car
– toast marshmallows (and learn how to make smores)
– learn how to make a nice fire
– understand the basic rules of American football
– go to a High School sport event
– go to a REAL sport event
– go line dancing
– have a rootbeer (and more advanced: have a rootbeer float)
– eat fried oreo
– do some kind of nature related thing that you can only do in the US (I went eagle and whale watching)
– have pulled pork or turkey or pulled whatever
– have salty popcorn with butter at the movies
– ride a yellow school bus
– go to a Superbowl event

MommyMia March 25, 2014 at 10:04 am

Love the salty popcorn one–remembering how surprised our German exchange students were that we don’t have sweet popcorn at the movies! (This was in the 90s, before Kettle Corn became popular everywhere). And, I’m pleased that many of y’all’s suggestions have been done by many of our APs!

German Au-Pair March 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

And I am pleased you just said “y’all” :)

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

A few things that we’ve done with our visitors:

– hiking/picnicking at a nearby state park, with plenty of alligators
– swim at Blue Lagoon in Huntsville
– meet the animals at a behind-the-scenes tour (theme park, zoo, etc.)
– watch outdoor movies/plays
– go to an art festival
– BYOB painting classes
– eat deep-fried turkey
– make s’mores
– dress up for Halloween
– volunteer weekend in the medical tent for the MS 150 bicycle ride
– make Christmas cookies
– indoor skydiving
– snorkeling/surfing/boogie-boarding
– surprise birthday party w/ decorations, cake and gifts (after learning that birthdays are not special occasions for all ages in all countries)

German Au-Pair March 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Funny you should say that. One major thing that German au pairs struggle with in the US is that back home we celebrate our birthdays the second we get up. Even when we get older and still live at home or with someone else, the first thing in the morning is congratulations and a gift. I have heard of so many au pairs (and experienced it myself) who were disappointed because their HP barely recognized the AP’s birthday in a warm way. Sure, most of the time there are gifts and cake later in the day but so many are really disappointed in the morning which I am sure HP are not even aware of because grown up birthdays are just not as big in the US. So I like that you have that on your list.

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Birthdays and sweets just aren’t as universally beloved as I used to think. Our non-Western visitors have all been pretty surprised when we celebrated their birthdays, but hopefully in a good way. I think they recognize birthday cakes from American movies/TV and enjoy taking part in an easy but foreign ritual. Just don’t expect everyone to eat cake. The kid who loved to eat fish eyes and salmon skin had to choke down chocolate cake.

Should be working March 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Most of our APs have been, to my frustration, way too focused on reproducing media-hyped experiences. Shopping on Black Friday! Getting the photo op with Mickey Mouse (3 hr wait, instead of enjoying the park)! Playing slots in Las Vegas (one AP, after visiting New Orleans with us by chance, lamented that she had spent a whole trip seeing Las Vegas when New Orleans is so much more wonderful)! Go to a Super Bowl party (when she has not watched football ever)!

Nothing so wrong with any of these choices, in my view, but the APs tended to only want well-known experiences. When I have tried to suggest more out-of-the-way, or mundane-sounding, or uncool, activities, they are not much interested. So much seems to be about getting the correct photo for Facebook.

German Au-Pair March 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Partly that’s true. There are some things -including black Friday shopping and Vegas- that are on the “all American experience” list. Mine had the picture with the Hollywood sign, meeting someone famous (I did!), being on Rockefeller Center, those glass boxes on Willis Tower and all those cliché, TV-American things on it, too. I checked off most of it (except Niagra Falls), I did post it on FB, I did blog about it and I was happy about it.
But there are other “Oh my god that’s so American”-things on a day to day basis that made me happy all the time. Imagine how the others (all Americans) looked at us when we took pictures with the old school bus that had been transformed to a sightseeing tour bus. The haunted house was SUCH an American experience. I even took pictures at the Hallooween corner at Target because that is just SO American.
I agree though that it is really stupid to only look for those TV-American-things. America is so so much more than New York and LA.

AussiePair March 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm

-Learn to love peanut butter, and chocolate with peanut butter
-eat Beignets at Cafe Dumonde in New Orleans
-go to the Ghiradelli store
-travel on your own
-“American party” with red solo cups (not on my list)
-family vacation (best way to see something you wouldn’t otherwise (I got to go snorkeling on Guam!!)
-thanksgiving dinner (pumpkin as a sweet!? So weird!)
-see a show on Broadway
-9/11 memorial
-Staten Island ferry
-travel in subways/metros/public transport on your own
-eastern state penitentiary
-learn to make smores
-road trip somewhere! (I’ve done D.C to Canada and D.C to South Carolina)
-Grand Canyon
-Niagara Falls
-Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia
-buy a piece of art to take home
-July 4th fireworks
-walk the Brooklyn bridge
-walk the piano at FAO Schwarz
-breakfast at Tiffany’s
– go to a local fair/festival
-hike at the Great Falls (or somewhere local to you)
-carve a pumpkin and eat the roasted seeds
-get really dressed up and go trick or treating

I’m sure I’ll think of/remember more later

Repeataupair March 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Here is my bucket list for when I was here first time and combined with the one of this time, of course I hope to do always more and things I had not on my list were a lot of fun as well !

National Parks road trip / Mount Rushmore / Ellis Island / San Francisco / San Diego / LA / Chicago / Weekend in Vermont (sorry I watched Friends too much) / Boston / NYC / DC / Philly / Miami / Weekend in Orlando / Hawaii / Alaska / Seattle / Las Vegas / Tennessee / Texas / Colorado / New Orleans / Atlanta

Take a surf lesson in Hawaii
Go to a dude ranch in Texas
Go see the Ellen Degeneres show in LA
See a show on Broadway
Have a favourite starbucks drink
Meet someone famous
Go to a country festival
Dress up for Halloween and go trick or treating
Ride a mechanical Bull (I flew out of it in 15 secs !)
Try a batting cage
Go to a six flags
Go see a baseball / hockey / football / basketball game
Make some smores
Haunted maze / house
See a gospel concert
Learn how to play beerpong (no age limit, I learned with water !)
Visit a Ivy league campus
Go to a drive in movie
Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Ice skate in Central Park
Collect the 50 state quarters (I’m on the national park ones now !)
Go to the navy ball in Annapolis
Do an obstacle / mud race
See squirrels everyday
Ride a yellow school bus
Go rafting in Colorado
Visit a highschool
Go to the Mall of America

Ski for the first time
Go snow tubing
Do a helicopter ride
Go skydiving
Swim with dolphins
Ride in a limo

NNTexasHM April 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm

What a great list of activities you’ve come up with – I’m guessing you were happy and really appreciated your time in the US. Very impressive.

AussiePair March 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm

-Drink Butterbeer at Universal Islands of Adventure
-definitely collect the State Quarters
-go to a music festival
-build a snowman
-go sledding
-get and give a book of recipes

HRHM March 24, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Tour a national monument (washington mmt, statue of liberty, alcatraz)
4th of July fireworks
St Paddy’s day parade
Make a christmas ornament at color me mine
See a professional sports game of any type
See a play or ballet or opera
Visit a wonder of nature (Rocky mtns, Niagra falls, caves)
Carve a pumpkin
Easter egg hunt
Go to a renaissance fair or pirate fair or some other kooky gathering
See the sunset from Mallory Square in Key West
Take a cruise around Manhattan
Take the architectural cruise in Chicago
Hike on the Appalachian trail or the Pacific trail

NNTexasHM April 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Love love love the architectural cruises of Chicago – also the walking tours. It’s such a great way for Au Pairs to learn the “scratch the surface” of such a great city.

Exaupair March 25, 2014 at 5:33 am

I love this idea. One of my problems when I was an au pair I just had no idea what things I wanted to do or what things there wear available when I had time off. Good thinking

Momma Gadget March 25, 2014 at 2:40 pm

NY Pizza
U.S. Steak
Peanut butter/ Peanut Butter cups
Driving a Big *ss SUV
Picnic at the Park
Make/ Fly Kites
Taco Night
Drive in Movie Theatre
Hot Rod Shows
Drag races/Nascar
Monster trucks
Amusement/water parks
New England Clam Bake
Beaches/volleyball/Sand castles/ Boogie boarding/skim boarding
Mini Golf
Circle line around Manhattan.
Blue Man Group
Berry picking
Out Door Art festival/flea Markets
Concert in Central park
1st day of school
School sporting events
Pro sporting event
Tail gating at a sporting event.
NY Renaissance festival
Fall foliage/hay ride
Apple picking/ Cider Mill
Feast of Sanginero , Little Italy NY
The Great Jack o Lantern Blaze/Sleepy Hollow /Haunted house
Boo at the(Bronx) Zoo
Halloween decorations/Costumes
Greenwich village Halloween Parade
Thanks giving/ Candied sweet potatoes w/ marshmallows/ Turkey/ Pumpkin Pie
Cranberries- Sauce/ Juice/ bread/ Cosmopolitans
(American) Foot ball frenzy
Black Friday
Picking a Christmas tree/ Decorating/Christmas cookies
Picture with Santa
Rockefeller Center/ Rockettes Christmas show
Christmas Morning Mayhem and stockings.
NY Botanical garden train show
Skiing/Snowboarding/Snow tubing
Snowmen/ snowball fights
New Years Eve in NY
New Year’s day Parade
Super Bowl Party
Girl Scout Cookies
St Patricks day Parade in NY
Picture with the Easter Bunny/Easter egg Hunt
Mountain Biking

AussiePair March 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Going to pick and cut a Christmas tree was a BIG one for me, growing up I’d only ever had fake ones, so getting invited to go with my family was super special, so was going pumpkin picking before Halloween! Two things you never really get to do in my country

NNTexasHM April 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Ooh – you know what would be cool? Try Pizza from 3 different states – New York slices, Chicago stuffed, and pick a random one and compare the difference!

caring hp March 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Thank u APMom blog. This thread is worthy of printing and sticking on the wall of our kitchen. Not only will aps love it, I will love following it and so will my kids.

Add rodeo, demolition derby, stock car racing, country music concert, Operation Christmas Child Packing Party, fall and spring festivals at schools and villages, dr seuss week (dress up and make fun crafts), make a fall scarecrow, try to decorate for every possible season with host kids. .. your cultures seasons and theirs, try couponing american style and try root beer.

NNTexasHM April 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I love this idea so much and apologize if these have already been stated but here are some other suggestions (particularly for Texas, my adopted State):

Go Line Dancing at Billy Bob’s
Go to see an impersonator of a famous singer (like Neil Diamond, Grateful Dead, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Elvis, etc.) – bonus if you get your picture taken with them
Go hear a GREAT cover band from the 80s
Go to see a play or art activity at a HUGE discount because you were smart enough to use Groupon or 1/2 price tickets (by going to a ticket kiosk on the day of the performance in New York)

OpinionatedHM April 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Apologies if its already listed here but I always tell our AP’s to

go to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It is truly one of those “only in America” kind of experiences. Especially if you live in a city where people actually dress up for the event.

Should be working April 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Do people still do this?? Wow, I was in high school and did this.

OpinionatedHM April 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Yep. Still happens at our “art house” movie theatre here. Just like laser light shows set to Zeppelin or Pink Floyd at the museum planetarium. It almost a right of passage for a young adult American. Gotta love it!

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