How to Handle Costs for a Ski Vacation: Who should pay for what?

by cv harquail on February 5, 2010

When a host family takes their au pair with them to work during part of the vacation, what should they provide for her during her off-duty time? Especially, what should you provide on a ski vacation, where costs are relatively high and your au pair can’t afford to pay for her own skiing?

201002050906.jpgA European Host Mom Ann asks:

Our au pair from America is a nice girl. She has been here since start of January. In two weeks we will be going on a wintersports holiday. She will travel with us to the hotel (so travel expense is covered) as is the hotel including dinners and breakfast. She will stay in a room that she shares with the boys. We will make sure she will have privacy there.

My question is: who should pay for what? Skipass, ski lessons and a rental of skis & helmet will be necessary (also she needs glasses, a warm jacket and snowpants) if she wants to go skiing. She is supposed to work this week, but if the kids are in ski-lessons, she is off-duty, so she could use this time for skiing.

I would appreciate your advice very much–

thanks, Ann

Let me start of with some general principles for taking your au pair on vacation:

  • Anytime you take your au pair with you to work, when you are on vacation, you should provide her with comfortable lodging, and all the same kinds of food, etc. as you would your kids. (However, don’t let her run her own bar tab on your room account!).
  • Make sure she knows that, while it’s vacation for you, it is largely work time for her.
  • Set aside some off duty time for her so that she can explore wherever you are and spend a little time vacationing too. Also, make sure you’re giving her a decent chunk of time off (like, an afternoon to sight-see, not time after dinner when it’s dark and everything is closed).
  • Make sure she has things to keep herself busy not bored.
  • Make sure that she has a way to stay in touch with family and friends (e.g., internet access).

You are already planning to do much of this, and thinking about the other details now is definitely good.

The hard part is always whether you can afford to have your au pair vacation in the same style as you parents or the kids are vacationing.  After all, it’s your vacation and not hers.

In an ideal world, you’d have enough money (we all would) to be able to pay for your au pair to ski during all of her off duty time… However, given that it costs around $100 per day to have your au pair ski, this may be out of the question for you.

You’ll want to talk with your au pair about how much it actually costs to pay for each skiing adult. Here in the US it’s horribly expensive– maybe it is less so where you are going? But you want to make she that she knows whether or not it’s easy for you to afford. Not that you want to make her feel beholden if you can afford to treat her, but you also don’t want her to misperceive the extent of your generosity. To imagine that two days of skiing equals a week of pocket money sure puts that into perspective.

201002050912.jpgYou might consider how much you can afford to spend to entertain your au pair… and then offering her the opportunity to chose how to use this budget. She might prefer two days of skiing, or maybe she’d prefer extra time off to do something less costly (skating, movie marathons, hiking).

Make a special effort to identify some interesting and less expensive activities that she can enjoy, and make sure she packs what she needs for those activities. For example, your hotel may have a pool, whirlpool and fitness room. Or, you might bring a laptop and a video camera and encourage her to make a few movies. You might identify historic sites near to your hotel and get her tourist information. I know this may seem dorky and unglamorous compared to skiing, but everyone can remember that this trip is part of her chance to see other areas of the world, and she could take advantage of that regardless of the skiing.

Keep in mind that, when you take an au pair with you on a ‘fancy’ vacation, she may thing that you have a lot of disposable income and that if you aren’t paying for her, too, you’re simply being cheap. It is hard for au pairs, kids, relatives, anyone but the adults in charge, to know how a vacation fits into the family’s overall budget.

My personal opinion is that you should try to spring for two days of skiing… maybe her two off duty days, or a few half days while the kids are busy. It would be hard not to come off as mean to take her to a ski resort and not help to make it possible for her to ski a bit too.

Talking about all of these issues is difficult, and with an immature au pair it can be impossible. But, you are starting with a good foundation.

Remember, and mention this to your au pair, that being able to talk about money, about privileges, about role differences, and so on is not easy, but it is the only way we can make sure that we are correctly understood — in both directions.  This is part of the life lessons for host parents and au pairs.

What else should Ann think about? What do you advise??

Also see:

Don’t take your Au Pair on vacation during her first 3 months!

Family Skts from jgscils598f08 Pretty young woman in white and…from nigel67

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DCAupairMom February 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

This is my first time posting a comment, but am now six months into our first au pair relationship so I guess maybe I know enough now to chime in. I would not be comfortable taking our au pair somewhere like a ski trip and then not providing for her to do what the rest of the family does. I recognize that we may be at the extreme end of things (we have a great au pair who we love), but when we travel with her we include her just as if she were one of the family. If we can’t afford that for a particular trip or don’t want to treat her that way, we decide not to take her. So far we have taken her with us to San Francisco, South Carolina (to visit family mostly) and are now planning our trip to Hawaii in March. I agree that it might be reasonable to limit the number of days if it is a money issue for you, but certainly providing a couple of days of skiing for someone who is at a ski resort is only reasonable. I also view this as being part of having an au pair who is more like a part of the family (which for us also includes her being willing to go above and beyond when we need it rather than nit picking about the rules).

E2 February 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm

We state up front in our handbook that we will pay for lodging & food when the au pair goes with us on vacation, and she will pay for any “extras.” When it comes down to it, though, we’ve paid for the Disneyland tickets, etc. We realized we did this too much with our first au pair and it turned out to be a very expensive year. So now we are more conservative and make sure we state before the trip what we are going to pay for. We are going to go skiing and we’re going to have the kids in 1/2 day lessons – so I’m going to propose splitting the cost with the au pair – she skis with the kids in the afternoon, but on her own in the morning.

HM in VA February 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

We don’t take our APs on our vacations… and mainly it is due to cost. for eg. we went for a weekend to NY and one hotel room was expensive enough for 2 nights – if we had taken our AP that would have doubled that cost. so generally she just gets time off vacation whenever we do go somewhere. exception is holidays or places we go and stay with family. Our APs generally end up with more vacation than just the 2weeks (usually 3+ weeks when you add it all up)

and we plan our vacations where we know the kids will be/can be in some sort of kids camp for a few hours and/or you can hire a babysitter for a night out, etc.

It is not necessarily that we would not want to take them, but feel we don’t really “need” the help and therefore the extra costs don’t make sense for us.

Has anyone had an AP go on vacation with them and NOT work? how did you handle that? costs?

PacificNW_mom February 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Our APs often go on vacation with us where we don’t require them to work. We ask for them to pay half of the airfare when it is a non-working vacation. They seem to be fine with it as they get to see some cool places and meet people in our family.

HM in VA February 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm

hope you don’t mind the follow up question – what about if it is not to see family? do you pay for her hotel & meals? or split it like with the airfare?

PacificNW_mom February 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

We pay for hotel and meals…but often we stay at a residence inn type place or condo (in Hawaii) where she has the fold-out couch.

M in NY February 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Actually, I went on vacation with my host family to another state (we drove, though) and I didn’t work at all. My host family payed for my food, my drinks, tickets to amusement parks and sightseeing. I payed for things like candy, souvenirs and a spa treatment and I was very grateful.
Now, it wasn’t a ski trip and we didn’t fly anywhere so I realise that not everone can do this. But in return, I took that week as one of my vacation weeks even though my family from back home came to visit just a couple of weeks after that (I worked during the week my family was here). So now I have one more week to have as vacation, and I’m gonna take the days out in smaller portions.

I think that if you want to take you au pair on a ski trip you might want to pay for at least one or two days of skiing, absolutely…if she’s into skiing! If she’s not that interested, maybe you could gice her some extra cash and let her go sightseeing or have a spa treatment?

StephinBoston February 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

We too take our au pairs with us on all trips, yes it’s added expense but they are very happy to come and it gives them a chance to see places they never would have gone to on their own. We don’t ask them to work much, usually a night here and there so we can go out. They usually hang out with us as we do activities and relax a bit, it’s more of a family thing. They don’t go off on their own to do things. We pay for transport, food, activities as if they were our daughter. If we did a ski trip, which I’m sure we will when the kids are a little older, I’d pay for the ski and possibly the rentals. She’s be expected to bring the right clothes and pay for lessons if she wanted them.

Darthastewart February 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

We tend to pay for most of the AP’s expenses on trips. This means parks, etc. ON ski trips, we tend to pay for a couple of days of skiing, then they can do other events like skating, etc.

MommyMia February 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

We took our first AP with us to Hawaii a few years ago, gave her plenty of free time and the option to do some sightseeing with us, and had a work schedule for her, although it was less than her normal work-week here. (before I began reading AuPair Mom, unfortunately) She neglected to watch our then-toddler and older child carefully at the beach, despite our instructions, which I witnessed from our balcony–she was more focused on facing the right direction to work on her tan than to supervise the kids near the ocean. She reluctantly took our older child along with her on a dolphin-watching boatride and made the 5-year-old use the bathroom alone because she didn’t want to stop photographing the dolphins at that moment, first thing the kid told us when we asked how the trip was!) and she was so worried about getting all of her luggage to the vehicle on check-out day that she moved the folding travel crib away from the door to the condo and we didn’t discover that it was missing until we got to the airport! Not happy memories for us (but she was thrilled to tick off another thing on her “to do while in the U.S.” list; as soon as she’d accomplished everything and had her family to visit & stay with us, she announced she couldn’t take it anymore and was leaving after 8 months!). Needless to say, we have a section in our handbook now, discuss our expectations in advance if taking an AP with us or if she stays at home to feed the pets, and spell out exactly what we’ll pay for and what we won’t so that there aren’t any surprises or unmet expectations.

PA au pair mom February 5, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I wouldn’t invite my au pair along on a vacation if I couldn’t afford to, or didn’t want to pay for her extras. Our AP is going with us to Cancun and we are paying for her airfare, hotel room, food and day trips. She only has to pay for whatever souvenirs she wants to bring back with her. We only require her to come with us on all our day trips as an extra set of hands. She never has any SOLE responsibility for the kids.

We view it as a family vacation and want her to feel like part of the family. If we couldn’t afford to treat her as such, then we would have her stay home.

NoVA Host Mom February 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I agree with what seems to be the general thought here. While you don’t have to pay for *all* of her “extra activities”, because you have taken her to this (costly) environment of activity, it seems only fair that you pay for at least some or half of the added expenses for her. To me that means paying for half of her skiing expenses (say, rentals for a week and a day or two of passes — if she wants more, it’s on her). If she is to be part of the family and have the family experience, it is not reasonable to then treat her like the hired help to remain in the hotel room watching the world go by.

We have taken our AP to Atlanta within the first 6 weeks of her arrival (pre-planned trip when we went into rematch), and paid for her entry to whatever we did (museums, aquarium, etc). Any extras she wanted were on her, and we made that clear. We do the same when we go to the beach in the summer. And yes, we examine the cost for paying for all of us (our daughter and the AP as well as HD and me) when we are considering a trip. Since AP was helping us out in GA, it never occurred to us to have her pay for even part of the plane ticket.

Sara Duke February 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Here’s what we pay for on a working vacation: a private room (we feel a young woman needs her own space, only once did an AP have to share with my son, and there was a privacy curtain between them), meals, airfare. APs pay for extras: snacks when we’re not around, any expenses they incur in the room (e.g. extra movies), and souvenirs. (I must say, my parents have always been around when we go to amusement parks, and have always picked up the entire tab – including the entry fee for the AP.)

We would never go someplace and not invite an AP to join us. It seems sad to me to leave someone who is supposed to be part of your family behind. When have we left APs behind? When their college class schedule did not permit travel, when they had friends or family visiting while we were traveling, or they didn’t really want to go. Yes, we have pulled back from some travel because paying for an extra airfare wasn’t in the budget – none of us went.

My father, for example, when we visit my parents near Las Vegas, offers the AP a night on the town – he will drive them (usually a friend comes too – but pays her own airfare) into town and pick them up when they call – a very generous offer, but then he knows he can catch up on sleep during the day.

Last summer we rented a cottage in a rural area, and took both the outgoing au pair who was in her extension month and our incoming au pair. We brought both cars because I was on deadline for a project and knew the outgoing AP would want extra time with her friends and therefore share the driving back with me. That meant that the two women could spend their downtime in the smaller car, while we did family activities in the bigger car.

The bonus for treating APs well, for me, has always been that they have been willing to go the extra mile when we need them. We have APs who having willing gotten up early with my daughter in Las Vegas because she stays on East Coast time, so my DH and I can sleep.

I think when you plan a family vacation, it is a good idea to start talking to the AP at the onset. We are inviting you to come along and here are your responsibilities. Would I necessarily pay for the AP to ski on her own? It would be a nice gesture, but not necessary. Would I pay for the entire equipment rental while an AP supervised the children skiing – absolutely. Would I make sure she had at least one evening off to explore the resort on her own? – Yes! Would I set down with her before the trip and help her anticipate expenses that she might incur – absolutely. Would I count down time as a vacation day? Absolutely not!

former au pair February 6, 2010 at 12:13 am

I agree with most of the people here. If you are requiring an au pair to go on this ski trip with you, you should probably be willing to pay for at least a day or two of skiing for her (if she’s interested in skiing). If you can’t afford that, don’t take the au pair. Also, Sara Duke, you’re awesome. I always love your responses. you sound like such a down to earth boss.

Anonymous February 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I second that!

AP-MA February 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

Okay… One thing that I think should be mentioned, your au pair has the right for her own room with privacy, and I can’t see how sharing a room with your boys fit that criteria…. Yes it is vacation but for her it’s working week and have her own room is extremily important, I’m sure it will be expensive but provide her own room it’s part of the rules. Another think that I would consider is, yes it is expensive for you a ski trip, but can you imagine for an au pair who earns U$200,00 a week?!? Especially if she just arrive in January an probably didn’t had time to save enough money to pay for skiing.
Since she just got here keeping her for a week without fun, friends and privacy you should expect deal with a not so happy au pair…and yes some conection to the world (e.g. Internet and computer, it doesn’t work if she doesn’t have a notebook to take on the trip) would be very nice!!!

Darthastewart February 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

As far as I know- there is nothing that guarantees the au-pair her own room when travelling.

I always give my au-pairs the option of going/not going. But I do tell them that they will be sharing a room with the kids. I simply cannot afford to pay for a third hotel room. Most of our au-pairs have wanted to go on any and all trips we go on, because it’s an opportunity to see things, and do things.- There’s no “making” an au-pair go on this sort of trip, no reason to either.

I don’t actually need the au-pair to go on vacation, so it really is a gift. – Sometimes the “working” is a nicety so that the HF can have the appearance of “needing” the AP on the trip. when really there is little to no need. – If I really want a babysitter for a few hours one night, I can call the concierge and arrange something. Lord knows I don’t need to go to the expense of paying for food, plane tickets, and the like for the AP.

There isn’t anything in the agency agreement that says we have to take an au-pair with us on the trip, either.

Please consider that some host families really do give until it hurts when it comes to an AP. When that is met with this kind of entitled attitude, it really hurts.

Anonymous February 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Maybe someone from one of the agencys can address this. I, too, was under the impression that (even during travel) the HF was required to provide the AP with a private sleeping space. CV? Anyone?

CV February 8, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Good question– I’d love to get an official answer!

My own opinion– this is one of the rules I would bend. I would make sure that the au pair had some privacy (especially for the bathroom & dressing, which can be managed by taking kids into parent’s room for a while) and that the au pair was able to watch tv, relax, stay up w/out bothering kids, sleep without kids waking her, etc.

I’d bend this rule b/c it is just so costly to get yet another hotel room… and given a choice of not going or sharing a room, our au pairs have always chosen to share rooms.

However, if we were going somewhere that cost wasn’t the issue (e.g. grandparents, visiting friends) I personally would give the au pair the more private place since it is especially hard to have privacy in these situations any other way. my $.02. I’d love to know the ‘rules’. cv

Sara Duke February 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

We choose to sleep with the kids and let the au pair have private space. Part if this decision is based on our special needs child, whose feeding pump goes off in the middle of the night, and the fact that said child will occasionally scream in the night (for some of us the happy retarded child is a myth). I don’t think it is appropriate for my AP to share a hotel room with my 9-year-old son, and will become less appropriate as he gets older.

CaliHostMom February 6, 2010 at 11:34 am

I’ve had 9 au pairs and been on probably 20 ski trips with them (always driving, never flying). For me, it always paid to be generous and treat the girls as part of the family and the ski trip as one of the special perks of having chosen our family. I agree with DCAuPairMom — it’s about treating them as part of the family. I *always* paid for at least two days of skiing if not more (depends on length of ski stay and kids’ situation). Au pairs can’t afford U.S. ski pricing. And if you take them and they spend all their pocket money to ski or they don’t ski b/c they don’t want to spend that much, they will feel bitter or left-out. If I couldn’t afford to make it a fun experience for them, too, I just would not have brought them along at all. I disagree that you can just put it in the AP manual at the beginning of the year that they’ll have to pay for “extras”. Lift tickets are not extras. They are the main attraction. I also begged & borrowed from neighbors and friends to equip the AP with the necessary clothing and equipment (or I payed for rentals). I did share up front with the AP the amount of $ and effort I was going to for her sake (graciously) and I explained that, in exchange, I would expect her to help out with the kids whenever necessary and not be beholden to a strict timeclock for duty hours. This worked really well for us. Never had a problem. Always had help with kids all day and evening and always had happy APs. (I did have a grouchy husband who could not believe I was paying for the APs to ski…but that’s another story!) ;-)

OR host mom February 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

For those of you in Northern CA & the Pacific NW, Shell is offering a ski free voucher (buy one, get one free) if you purchase 10 gallons of gas. It is good at a number of ski resorts…an easy way to bring AP along for free! My AP was the one that told me about the deal!

Disgruntled March 27, 2010 at 6:49 am

I’m an au pair in Europe and I’ve been on a week long ski trip with the host family, and the entire time, I’ve been ‘strictly forbidden’ to ski. My HM’s reason is safety- basically, if I break my neck, she’s out of childcare. I can understand this (even though I’ve been skiing for years with my own family and I know what I’m doing) but when I asked if any former au pairs had been allowed to ski, she told me yes-just one, who fell down, thus the new no skiing au pair rule. BUT when I spoke to the children’s ski instructor, she mentioned giving lessons to another au pair- one who had followed the au pair who had been in an accident.

Also, when my HM wasn’t sure if her husband would be able to join us, she mentioned something about me skiing with her anyway, because she ‘just hates to ski alone.’

if me skiing is a safety issue, shouldn’t it be a safety issue whether or not she likes skiing alone? And I don’t like thefact that she lied about which au pairs had gone skiing- IMHO, they just don’t want to pay for me and they want a constantly available babysitter. Fine! I don’t even mind that much- I just wish they would be straight with me and not act like I’m stupid. Sheesh.

exNorwayAupair June 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

I know this is an old topic but just wanted to put my 2 cents in ;) For people like me, who stumble over this blog/topic long after it was active.

When I was an aupair in Norway (yeeeeears ago – in 2004), my HP took me on a Ski Vacation. I rather… dislike skiing. I don’t like mountains, they are high and steep, there are avalanches and people get hurt/die when skiing. My father had forced me to ski when I was younger (10/15 years before). I didn’t like it then, I still don’t.

However, that didn’t bother me too much as I was accompanying the family to take care of the baby (who had just turned 1) while they went skiing with the older children (schoolaged) and then spend some time playing or in the pool with the older children when the parents relaxed with the baby later.

All in all, this was a “regular” work week for me – hence the family paid for room (shared with oldest girl) and food. They also forced me to ski on the last day there – I got to use the HD’s skis (who took care of the baby while HM went “skiing” with me and the two oldest) and helmet as well as one of my HM’s old snowpants. Usage of the nursery slope (where I got run over by 2 year olds more than once) was free if I remember correctly and I didn’t have to pay for the skipass… not that I ever really wanted to ski.

On the way back home, after a week of vacation, my HP went cross-country skiing with the two oldest and dropped me and the baby off at a parking area. There was a café, however I was left without money to get food/drink for either baby or me. I couldn’t even use the restroom as that had to be paid for and after a week of daily hot chocolates and snacks (while going for endless walks with the baby, as they family didn’t cover “snacks” during working hours on the trip) I was totally broke, I had to change the baby on the backseat of the car. They were gone for 4+ hours, while I walked up and down the parkinglot with the little one – no cellphone signal, no idea when they would be back, not allowed to turn on the radio/heating in the car. Thankfully, the weather was extremely nice.
If you drop your aupair off in the middle of nowhere (!) at least ask her if she has money for a cup of coffee or a piece of cake – if she doesn’t, either give her some, pay her (part) of her pocketmoney early or lend her some that can be deducted of her next salary. Make sure your AP has the possibility to keep the child(ren) and herself occupied, fed, and SAVE. Also make sure that your aupair knows beforehand what she will have to pay for (snacks, drinks, skipass…), especially as holiday resorts are often a little more expensive than what the AP might be used to

cv harquail June 14, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Leaving you with a baby in a parking lot/rest area with no money, no phone and no sense of when they are coming back? That goes down on the list of “I can’t believe that people do this to their au pairs.” Apologies from host parents everywhere. cv

Carol Former AP July 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

I was an AP whose host family went on skiing trips constantly. As soon and I got to their home they took me on a trip. The first couple of times we went skiing, they paid for the ski rental, lift ticket and a private class at a small, cheap place. It was great, I’m from Brazil and never seen snow before, let alone skied.

The other dozens of times I went with them, I paid for everything myself (unless it was my b-day, Xmas). We usually spend 4 or 5 days there, I once or twice and I’d watch the smaller kids for them the other days. When they wanted to take all the kids and were going to expensive or harder or ski places, they offered to drop me off at the local ski place (the one I was used to) if I wanted. I thought it was very nice of them to introduce me to the sport, I’d forever thankful to them for giving me the chance to experience such a unique thing (since I”d never have this chance in my home country).

AFhostmom January 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Dragging up an old topic here, but I am curious what others think and I don’t see much on this aspect of the travel issue.
We use our 45 hours all during the week, and in fact end up juggling to stay within the limit. With the 3 day weekend coming up, we were thinking of going out of town to NYC, where we’ve never been(we just moved here, since my husband is in the military). My au pair has never visited NYC either, and we thought of taking her….but we are out of hours so if we DO take her, it will be just for her benefit. Is it a foul to not bring her? We are really not in the position to pay for 2 hotel rooms, and our kids are young enough that they can just stay with us in our room. I would love to take her but on the other hand, frankly, we could use some “us” time too. Do I just be honest, and give her run of the house? Do I invite her but ask her to pay for part of her way? Ugh. I thought about bringing her and her friend who also has the weekend off until it occurred to me that they won’t be able to watch the kids anyway because of the 45 hour rule. I know she would love to go but I am not sure what to do.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Personally, I have always invited my APs to join the family in our travels (not all have wanted to go on every trip). I have found that even when they are not working they have been gracious about pitching in as a family member because they’re grateful for the opportunity to travel. DH and I pay for meals and touring when they are done with our family. We have always given the AP her own room (except when we visit one family member – because the option is to sleep with The Camel and have a door that closes or to sleep in the living room which is completely open).

If you are not having her work, then I believe it is fine to invite her but tell her that she will need to pay for her own room as she will not be working.Then, it is her choice to spend the money or not. If you don’t intend for her to pay to see the sights with your family, then you need to be up front – as those expenses can add up quickly in Manhattan. She may well decide that she wants to stay home and save her money.

You always have the option not to invite an au pair, but it may affect your relationship with her. If she’s been fantastic about pitching in, then I would recommend offering to include her.

AFHostmom January 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for the advice–mostly I feel like a dirtbag for not being able to pay all of her expenses, but she IS helpful when we are on the road, and our finances are what they are, unfortunately. I’ll just be honest with her and try not to overcommit myself financially (as I tend to do), and see how she reacts. We’ve taken her out of town once, to visit our families, but that of course was a whole different scenario as she had a free private room and the meals were “paid for.” :) She really enjoyed the time, and I know she wants to see as much as possible, so we’ll try to make it work.

NoVA Host Mom January 11, 2011 at 12:18 am

Given the financial constraints, if she is not working, I agree to just be honest but have her pay for her own vacation/weekend. Offer the ride to NY (if you are driving) for free, but let her know that the costs once there are on her. Maybe she’d appreciate the ride and had not thought of using the weekend that way until you mention it. Suggest that if she has a friend who wants to go with her, the two of them might like sharing the room costs and spending the weekend exploring on their own. Make arrangements to meet for the ride home, and just keep in contact during the visit.

Many of us cannot afford to front the vacation costs for the non-working trips. We do other things as we can (maybe an extra vacation day or something), and just roll with life. We can’t and don’t provide our APs with anything and everything. It’s not there for us to do it with. But we do what we can, and work to not get Princesses.

Dorsi January 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I am a big fan of Embassy Suites when travelling — they almost always have a “living room” with a fold out sofa, so there is a door between me and the Au Pair. They are not cheap, but nice and usually cheaper than two decent hotel rooms. They also typically have nice, hot breakfast that is free and often an evening happy hour with snacks. That covers a lot of the cost of bringing the Au Pair.

I just looked — there is one in Seacaucas, NJ, 4 miles from Manhattan — I have no idea if that means it is easily accessible to the city — that costs $160/night for their “two room suite” — that seems like a steal in Manhattan.

While there are lots of other hotels that offer similar “two room suites” Embassy is the only one I know that reliably does it in all their hotels.

Good luck.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

My guess is that most hotels, when asked, also offer a military discount, which would make your stay more affordable. If you have AAA, many also offer a discount for members as well. I have found that sometimes one can do better by actually calling a hotel than by booking through an online service (plus, you’ll have the advantage of learning about how accessible the location is to your destination).

We, too, are fans of suites of rooms. We recently stayed in a hotel that offered a kitchen with plates and pots – we saved a mint on restaurants by cooking simple meals and eating them in the suite. (Another trick for NY is that many of the museums’ fees are merely a suggested donation – you may pay less and while they might glare at you, they aren’t permitted to say no.)

Personally, I’ve often thought I’d be willing to put up an AP who was not necessarily a friend of my AP, who wanted a free place to stay and a meal in exchange for doing dishes or cooking a traditional dinner one night. I’m not sure, however, that I’d go in for a whole host family (not that I live near NYC).

Mom23 January 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

We have stayed at the Embassy Suites in lower Manhattan. It was not terribly close to the subway, and very close to the World Trade Center construction, but it offered all that the usual Embassy Suites offered and it is a great option for a large family or a family traveling with an au pair.

I have found that my au pairs did not mind sharing a room with the kids if we were paying the bills (and not making the au pair work).

AFHostmom January 11, 2011 at 7:24 am

Thanks much for all the input. Embassy/homewood suites etc is a great idea but if I’m honest our AP can be a bit of work sometimes so I am kind of looking forward to some “not having to tranlsate culture” time. I had kind of come to the conclusion that novamom suggested–i will offer her and her friend a ride and help them find a hostel, I think, and invite them to join us for parts of days (being clear about costs) if they wish.

NoVA Mom January 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I think the ride and hostel are a great idea. I stayed at the Hostelling International Hostel in New York about 3 years ago (I wanted the high school exchange student I had at the time to be able to see New York before she left, but since she was 16 didn’t want to send her by herself, so darn it I had to go with). The hostel is great, the neighborhood is OK as long as you use your head like you would in any big city. The website is She and a friend would do well there – the hostel seems to be very used to helping young people out in New York.

AFHostmom January 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

I just wanted to write a follow-up for those who provided me input. Again, thanks for the ideas. I presented 3 options to the AP: come with us, alone, in a suite with a shared room w/ the kids; bring her friend (which wold mean us shifting our plans by a day to accomodate her, and we didn’t mind), or stay and have run of the house. She chose the third option (I probably would have to–I can imagine she is as weary of us as we are of always having someone around). She is inviting several AP friends to sleep over one of the nights and they will watch movies, play video games, etc. I’m leaving her some money to treat them to take-out (haven’t told her this yet, it is a little “have fun” gesture), and taking her to the grocery tomorrow to load up on snacks. The extras will be appreciated, and still less expensive than taking her on the trip, we will all (hopefully) refresh ourselves, and she can take a weekend to see the city–traveling by train–later, or on her way back home at the end of her time here.

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