West Coast Mom suggests that we pool our collective wisdom to generate a packing list for our incoming au pairs. This list would not include the basics (they’ll all think to pack underwear). Instead, this list would cover wht an au pair needs to bring to support her or his adventure.
What we pack reflects our expectations
What we pack for a trip reflects what we’re expecting will happen, what we’re expecting we’ll do, and what we’re expecting we’ll need– but it’s not just about the “things” we pack, it’s about the meaning of these “things”.
I suspect that if we were to randomly open the luggage of 5 incoming au pairs, we’d get a tour of many of their hopes and dreams for the year ahead.
Since we host parents have seen more than a few adventure years, and seen what kinds of things surprise au pairs, we might have ideas for “what to pack” that could help them out. So, off the top of my head, here are:
5 Things an Au Pair Should Bring
- A modest bathing suit: One that covers your whole behind, please. One that you can wear at the town pool.
- Your favorite children’s book, in your own language, to share with your host kids
- Medications like Birth Control Pills: Many medicines are more expensive here than they are in your home country. If you are on a prescription medication, and/or if you have favorite remedies for ailments common to you, bring them along.
- Space in your luggage: You can buy a lot of things here (and you probably will).
- A List of your Goals for the year: Thinking explicitly about what you want to get out of your year, and having this written down, is a way to remind you what it’s all about when you feel homesick, when you feel lost, and when you’re offered opportunities you might not have considered.
On the other hand,
It’s also important to think about what not to bring.
The stuff I have seen come out of au pair luggage has boggled my mind sometimes, when I think of how heavy it was and how much room it took up. You don’t need to bring your own Rollerblades here– we can find you a pair. Really.
5 Things an Au Pair Should Not Bring
- Towels, sheets and pillows: We have these in the US! And, we have them here in our houses for you to use. Use the extra space in your luggage for something more fun.
- Hot Wax Melter & Waxing Supplies: There are lots of options for depilatation that aren’t electric, that aren’t heavy and that are effective.
- A musical instrument larger than a clarinet: It may not be in perfect condition, but we can find you a second hand guitar to use while you’re here. And, there are inexpensive accordions on eBay all the time.
- More than 3 stuffed animals: Your Host Kids will be happy to share some of theirs with you, I promise.
- Precious and rare Hello Kitty items: Sanrio has outlets here, and the Hello Kitty stuff you can buy here will be rare back home.
- Parents, what things would you recommend an au pair bring, to support his or her adventure?
- What’s best left behind?
- And, (we all want to know) what crazy items have been brought to the States by your au pairs?
The “Before You Leave Home” E-mail
Getting her stuff back home: Is there a cheap way to ship things?
Tip: Save those Ice Skates! (about providing seasonal & one-off items for your au pair)