Give Your Au Pair The Gift of Travel ~ Ideas from HRHM

by cv harquail on December 13, 2012

cornwall map naturally heartfelt.jpgMost Au Pairs want the chance to travel during their year with us. “Travel” can mean a lot of things– vacations, long weekends, day trips, and even a quick stop over at something interesting on the way to a regular errand. Host mom and regular contributor HRHM shares these ideas for simple, fun, lower-cost travel gifts for your au pair.

1. Surprise Weekend Off

Pick a weekend when you know you can swing it and give her a long
weekend so she can go somewhere. (extra time off is my favorite gift
from my employer.) Try to avoid holiday weekends since travel will be
more expensive and more crowded. If you can, coordinate with her
friends behind her back so that they can go with her on her adventure.

2. “Free” Hotel Room

Use your points to get her a hotel room in a city she wants to visit
or hasn’t been to yet. If you don’t have points, this may not be
feasible, but in many business hotels in cities, the weekend rates are
really cheap (<100 per night) so 2 nights might be within your budget.

3. Relax the Car Limitations

If she’s earned the trust, let her take the car further than you
normally would.

4. Romantic Rail Travel

Train travel is so much less common here than abroad that a trip on an American railroad can feel special. Use your points to buy your au pair a train ticket (round trip, of course).

5.Wrap It Inside Good Travel Advice 

Present the gift inside a city guide book! Look for the funky kind, or the kind that has strange tips (cv notes: we have Wierd New Jersey).

We live in Hampton Roads and our AP hasn’t been to DC for a full on  visit yet. Her train ticket from here will be $66 round trip. I found a room on the metro line not far from Union Station that was $103 per night, but even better, we have enough Marriott points that it will be free for us. I am coordinating with her bestie to pick a weekend that she can go along. I will give them a ride to and from the train station and Metro cards to use in DC. I’m also trying to get them a White House tour with our Senator’s office. I’m going to put everything in a Lonely Planet guide and wrap it from Santa! I can’t wait to see her face. :)


Image: Cornwall Map by NaturallyHeartfelt on Etsy


MailysFormerFutureAP December 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

That’s such a sweet and thoughtful idea !!!

For Host Parents who can’t afford the room in an Hotel, and Hostel Private Room can be an alternative, not the same comfort but the same privacy ;)

If you know your AP is going somewhere for the week end for the first time maybe a cute cary-on bag can be a good gift along with the offer of a ride to the airport and a Book guide.
Some other things can be useful to the aupair: a restaurant card with like 10 or $15 on so she can treat herself one night or a few more hours to sleep in on the monday morning if you can make it work…

And if you have been yourself to the place she is going, maybe write her a card with your own favorites and advises :)

Taking a Computer Lunch December 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

As a HP on a budget, I can afford a nice guide book now and then… and pointers (when they’re willing to listen) on what to see and eat when they’re in a particular city or area.

HRHM December 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

Certainly each family can afford what they can afford. But a long weekend is free (although may be hard to swing depending on HP schedules) and use of the car is free (if she pays for the gas) and you can actually get the book for free too by taking it out of the library. This really is more a gift of OUR inconvenience for HER benefit. With us being military we have accumulated enough points for the free hotel room and the train ticket is only 66. So altogether, this gift to her is costing us 76 dollars including 3 nights in the Courtyard. We generally spend about one week’s salary on our AP for her Christmas gift (s).

Martha December 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I came here as an au pair to improve my english, learn about the american life- the one I’ve seen on TV and cable for my entire life – with an awesome american family, grow as a person, make new friends, and travel. A LOT! Traveling was one of the best parts of my au pair years :) Traveling made me happier, renewed! Time off was the best present I could get from my host parents not because I didnt want to stay with the kids, I loved them to death. But imagine living and working in the same place for 1 year. Its not easy to see your boss every morning when you are barely awake. So time off, even if it means 10 minutes before the usual time, it made me smile :) it meant more time to see my friends, more time to talk to my mom on skype, more time to tlak to people back home, more time to take a longer shower, or just to chat with the HP and talk about the day…
And I never understood why if both parents are home on a holiday, doing nothing, why cant they watch their own kids? The au pair could be traveling somewhere, exploring the country, enjoying the holidays but some parents dont let them do that and ask them to work while they do nothing.-.- If you have the chance, let your au pair travel. She didnt come here to be a nanny. Its part of the deal, but if she is a caring and responsible au pair, you will find out that 1 day with your child is worth it having her enjoy her time here with her friends. We only live once. its one year of her life that will never come back. Hire a babysitter and let her have fun, specially when you are both at home… You will have a happier au pair for sure. Encourage her to travel, the memories she will create are priceless.

HRHM December 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm

While I understand that many APs want to use the year to travel as much as possible, I take exception to the idea that if I’m home, my AP shouldn’t have to work. During a regular week, I and DH are at work all day M-F. AP has from 9 am to 3 pm each day to get stuff done that can’t be taken care of evenings and weekends. She has at least one full weekend off each month, usually more. I NEVER have a full weekend off of being Mom/DW. She has at least 1.5 days each week off as well – needless to say, I don’t. So, when a bank holiday presents itself, and DH and I have the good fortune to be off from work during the day together, I have no heartburn asking her to watch the girls for the day so that we can go out to lunch and a movie together or so I can go get a massage or a pedicure. Our AP NEVER works 45 hours in a week, so NO I’m not hiring a babysitter so she can have more time off. My AP knows before coming (if she bothered to read the FManual!) that she doesn’t get bank holidays off. She can travel in her 2 weeks of vaca, at least one weekend per month and during her 13th month.
The AP who I went out of my way for to arrange a long weekend off is super special and I guarantee she has earned this special consideration. She’s the first one who has.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 30, 2012 at 12:16 am

Martha – this is something that comes up frequently with APs. It’s hard to work when the HPs are hanging around – the kids would rather be with their folks and you might feel like a fifth wheel. Bottom line – if you’re not asking for time off, then you’re working.

In my family’s case, we pay 100% of expenses for an AP to join us on holiday travel – that includes an expensive flight, taking her to sights that she would enjoy seeing (and dragging her along to our favorite places), and picking up the tab for her restaurant meals. Her only required expenses are souvenirs. So I get to read the paper while she feeds my child – I may feel a twinge of guilt and then I recalls this is also my time to renew my energy as a working mom. (And of course I don’t make my AP get up in the middle of the night to be with the child who can’t adjust to a time change – so while it may appear that I’m lazy, I’m really dazed – because by the time she appears I’ve already been up for 5 hours and have fed the child breakfast!)

But, I must say, I kicked myself for not taking my own advice and reminding my current AP that my vacation is not her vacation! And my personal line is, “It’s a vacation when you don’t take the kids, a family trip when you do.”

Bottom line – your HF is not required to give you any extra time off at the holidays. If you want it, you have to ask.

LeftBehind August 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

One of the things that actually bothers me is that my HM quit her job in May – now it’s August.
I’m still working from 9 a.m. til 8 p.m. – even though my schedule says ‘9-6’, I never really get out until the baby is in bed.
And then it really *does* bother me, that HM is out and about just to not spend time w/baby, while I only have one day a week off and usually don’t get my whole weekend a month, despite them going out at least once a week and not coming home before 1 a.m., what btw makes about 16 hours of work.

Because every time the AP can not leave the house, it’s working time. Even if she goes to bed it does go into the working hours. That’s why naptime, even if the AP just watches TV, because nothing else is to do, is working time.

I really did not care, that I had to watch the baby while on vacation with them, staying back so they can do ‘grown up stuff’, sleeping in the living room, shared w/baby – because that’s why they paid everything for me.
What surely was a problem was 14 hours in the backseat, *on my day off*, next to a unhappy baby because she doesn’t like cars, feeding her, keeping her occupied, sing and pet her to sleep.

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