Who Pays for Your Au Pair’s Gas?

by cv harquail on January 10, 2015

au pair car, au pair driving, gas money

  • Au Pairs should pay for their own gas when they use the family’s car(s) on their own personal time. 
  • Host Families should pay for gas used when the Au Pair drives for family and child-related activities.

Managing who pays for gas is pretty simple, right?

If only cars came with two gas tanks, or funky meters that let us assign car use to different accounts.

(Is somebody creating an app for that??? Must look in the app store…. )

Alas, there is no really easy way to figure out who’s used what gas in the communal tank.

Families have resorted to a range of strategies to manage the au pair’s use of a shared car:

  • Host Parents pay for all the gas in the family car.
  • HPs ask Au Pairs to note the miles they’ve driven, and they set an amount per mile (e.g., at 20 miles to the gallon and gas at $3, $15 for every hundred miles).
  • HPs guestimate how much the Au Pair is driving the car, and ask him/her to chip in an appropriate amount.
  • HPs ask the Au Pair to refill the gas tank after their weekend of personal use, aiming themselves to leave the tank nearly full when they give the car to the au pair.


(Am I missing any?)

This issue came up in the comments of a different post, so I’m attaching these comments to kick off the conversation here.

What have you done to manage sharing the cost of gas?  

How has your strategy worked for you? How has your Au Pair felt about it?


See also:

Providing Your Au Pair With Safe, Affordable, Convenient Transportation


Image: by Phil King on Flickr


Taking a Computer Lunch January 6, 2015 at 8:53 pm

We have a second car that we call “the au pair car,” and generally it is for the AP to use – we do schedule our use of it on the family calendar, so she is well-aware when we need to use it (usually while she’s sleeping in at the weekend). When DH or I use it, then we top the tank.

For APs who use public transportation or walk a lot, it may mean never paying for a tank of gas. Others had to refill constantly. If we suspect that an AP is taking advantage of our tank topping, then we’ll reimburse her for the gas we used (at a generous rate) and tell her we expect her to use the money to put gas in the car (occasionally it brings and issue – like not knowing how to fill a gas tank – to the surface). We offer the tank topping to reimburse for attendance at cluster meetings, travel to classes, and the occasional kid trip.

Some of our APs have taken the car on long trips – usually to beaches up and down our coast – the bus service to our cities is so reasonable that they would lose money by driving there. We haven’t blinked at it. In fact, APs 2-7 took such good care of the little car that when AP 8 plowed headfirst into the side of an Hummer, having failed to yield, our insurance paid for the car to be rebuilt. APs 9-11 have continued to take good care of it – they’re well aware that around here having nearly exclusive use of a car is a privilege. (DH and I use public transportation to commute.)

Seattle Mom January 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

I think when the host parents use public transit that gives them credibility when making rules about car use. We also both commute to work by transit (most of the time) and none of our au pairs have bat an eyelash at the “no driving downtown” rule. In fact one of our au pairs came to us having never ridden busses before (she drove a lot at home and her previous host family lived in a rural area). She was a bit scared about riding the bus, so her first weekend we did a trip downtown with the kids so she could see how easy it was. After that she almost never drove anywhere- she was riding the bus to places I would have driven (and not expected her to bus). She was a total convert, it was great :)

Host Mom in the City January 7, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Us too – I mention that in our handbook and letter that DH and I use the bus and train six days a week. We really very rarely drive and I expect the same of our AP. That said, I remember there was a thread on here defending expecting your AP to use public transport even if you don’t and it did actualy convince me away from my staunch “only expect an AP to use the bus if you’re willing to” stance. Anyone remember that?

Taking a Computer Lunch January 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm

We try to ascertain how much APs have traveled on their own without their families – if they haven’t then they might be risk-averse, and less likely to jump into life in their new city wholeheartedly – figuring out for themselves where things are and how to get around. On the other hand, we’ve had a couple of risk-takers, who jumped in so wholeheartedly that they went into neighborhoods where they stood out and drew unwanted attention.

Schmetterfink January 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm

“occasionally it brings and issue – like not knowing how to fill a gas tank – to the surface”

Which reminds me of myself, the first time I got gas for the family car… and wasn’t aware that a steering wheel could have a lock and would lock itself if you moved the steering wheel after turning the car off at the gas station :D I had to ask the poor man at the next pump for help. I am still sure he thought I was slow.

That aside I was in the lucky situation that my host family had a “family car” (7 seater, later 9 seater) that I could use during my working hours and a designated au pair car (host dad’s old car). My host parents always paid gas for the family car (either would get gas or reimburse me) and I would get gas for the au pair car (unless my host dad used it a lot for some reason and then would get gas Friday afternoon). Sometimes I would end up with a car on emergency fuel Monday mornings but as I was always quickly reimbursed when filling up the family car I didn’t mind that much (as long as there was enough gas to take the kids to school before going to the gas station – which was the same distance into the opposite direction).

I lived in a neighborhood that wasn’t walkable at all and had no public transportation (rural Ohio) thus driving and access to a car was crucial.
School was 7 miles away, the next playground was 3 miles (no sidewalks), 5 miles if we wanted to go to the park (crossing the interstate). I easily drove 30 miles for work per day (school, park, grocery store, library, zoo etc.), more if I took the kids to a museum or had to take them to friends after school, plus classes (15 miles one way) and cluster meetings (15 miles one way into the opposite direction).
Going to the movies was a 30 mile round-trip, going to the mall 35 miles, the library 18 miles. I easily drove 100 to 150 miles a week even if I didn’t go out every day or didn’t go anywhere “special” (one trip to the outlet mall was 120 miles). On a busy weekend I could easily drive 250+ miles. In a week with classes, cluster meeting, school runs, afternoon activities with the kids… driving 500 miles a week was definitely a possibility. I am really happy to be back in a city with great public transit that is very walkable and especially very bikeable – I now drive less than 3.000 miles a year and enjoy that a lot :)

AupairInMadrid January 18, 2015 at 6:05 pm

I’ve been driving my own car at home for about a year without knowing that steering weels could lock. :D Which led to me sitting alone in my car in the completely empty parking lot of my school because I had to take a test alone afterhours. With an uncharged phone because of course. I had to wait three hours for the next person to come which was my principal because of course.

Returning HM January 10, 2015 at 4:20 pm

We have done lots of different things about gas over the years and have worked hard to figure out what strategy would work best for us, given where we lived (we have lived in three different states since we started hosting in 2005) and how much the AP used/needed to use the car at each particular time.

When we lived in suburban NJ (everyone had to drive everywhere, no public transportation at all except to NYC and we had to drive to the train station), we calculated how much gas our children’s activities used each week and gave (over-gave) the APs money each week. It was then their responsibility to keep the car full. The APs probably put 150 miles a week on the car for their own personal use. This was big driving place, and sorting out the gas in other ways was really stressful, so this is the approach that worked best for us when the APs were doing lots of driving.

When we lived in DC (ride-on stop nearly every corner, metro use possible to most places), we shared a car with AP. We asked her to keep track of her miles for a few weeks, figured out she used about $10-15 worth of gas, then just had her pay us ten dollars weekly, and we kept the car filled. If she went further than usual, she usually offered to pay more, but we didn’t take it except for really long trips. This worked very well for low to moderate usage of the car.

Now that we’re in New England in a college town (walking distance to town, walking distance to many other APs in our area, walking distance to the train to Boston, short drive to the T), we just ask the APs to keep track of their rough mileage and throw in money every now and then. I’d say our AP probably puts in $10 or $15 a month, which is probably a little low for the amount he drives, but whatever. He doesn’t use the car very often since he can walk a lot of places (and it’s safe so he can and does walk at night), and I don’t have it in me to keep track. We did find with previous APs since we’re up here that if we ask them to just put in gas whenever, this rarely happened, but reminding them to leave us a receipt when they do put in gas prompted them to pay closer attention to this. :-)

WestMom January 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm

We have used a few approaches with our APs over the years.

AP1 got free use of our family car. We only had one car at that time. She was very respectful, but we definitely saw a big use increase around month 9 (spring time!) and started to ask her to fill the tank every once in a while.

By the time AP3 started, we bought a second car for me to use to go to work. We started to charge a small weekly ‘car usage fee’ ($10/week- very reasonable). It worked super well with her, and she remained very respectful of our car and it’s usage throughout her year. AP3 and AP4 used the car a lot more, to the point where we had to have multiple conversation about this (think empty tank within 4 days…). Things would get better for a few weeks, and then the usage would get our of control again. We increased the fee to $15, then $20. In retrospect, I think that charging them a usage fee made them feel like they were entitled to use the car as much as they wanted. They never asked for permission to take it. They broke our rules. They dented the car. They got tickets (I found out after the fact…). They chauffered other APs across county. Halfway with AP4, we used a GPS recorder for a few weeks to finally prove that usage was excessive.

We have since returned to a free use model, up to a max of 75 miles per week, excluding school and cluster meetings. (BTW, I don’t count mileage, I assume AP is trustworthy and stays within that limit. The signs of overuse are pretty clear to see- car never here, tank quickly going down, or mysteriously topped off midweek!). Some have asked if they could use the car more and pay for the gas and my answer is no. 75 miles is ample to have a very active social life in our area. I plan to keep my car for 8yrs, and that’s the amount of extra mileage I am comfortable offering. I emphasize that car use is a privilege, and I encourage public transport (We are walking distance to everything, including train to NYC city and two bus lines to major suburban centers as well.) Our last two APs have been incredibly respectful. Our current AP walks everywhere.

Regarding road trips, we do not offer that option. We have two cars, and with 3 teenagers we need them both, especially on weekends. None of our APs have ever asked to use our car for an extended trip, but two have rented cars with other AP friends.

Emerald City HM January 10, 2015 at 11:06 pm

We have a separate car but will reimburse filling the tank every third fill up or so for classes and cluster meetings.

We do get her a bus pass and fully pay for that to encourage public transportation. Particularly downtown, given that it’s so expensive to park and we definitely don’t pay for that.

AussiePair January 11, 2015 at 3:35 am

In the two families that I had success in they both used the same model: there was a dedicated au pair car, I had a credit card and was expected to fill up gas as needed, host parents would pay for 1 tank of gas a week (1st family I was left with a LOT of extra gas, 2nd family not as much, but kid activities never used the whole tank per week), anything extra needed to come out of my pocket. My host families never kept track of how much gas I was using or what I paid, however I probably only used their credit card for gas ever 1.5-2 weeks and put some of my own money into it every weekend (I had a friend who lived an hour round trip away and we would often meet half way, or 3/4 of the way etc.)

American Host Mom in Europe January 11, 2015 at 8:01 am

We live in the countryside with no close walkable public transport – it is a 6 minute drive to the train station (or bus stops), and buses run only hourly and train every 30 min. Our APs have a 2-passenger car that is almost exclusively for their use, although I will sometimes use if I am going out alone. If they are transporting the kids, they use my SUV, which is our only car that holds everyone. I keep my SUV gassed. The au pair is responsible for all gas in her car, although about every second time I use the car, I’ll normally fill it as a courtesy. Our APs will often use the AP car to do the family grocery shopping once a week, which is only 5 km round trip, so I figure my periodic fill ups cover this. Most take the train mostly; I had a laugh recently when my current AP, in her 4th month here, asked me a Q about filling the car; she’d never done it because my periodic top ups had kept it full!

We also get our APs a train pass every summer (during the year, most buy their own). In the summer it provides 2 months of unlimited bus and train travel in our region to 1 adult and 2 children, and is transferable, so I sometimes use it too, and APs will take the kids on train outings.

Peachtree Mom January 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Like HRHM I added up the miles our daughter requires for the month (gymnastics, riding, library etc) and I add that to the first week’s stipend….about $40/300 miles. After that she is on her own. There is a dedicated aupair car so we do not have to worry about deciphering who drove where. That being said, the car is always an issue. Although we say it is a privilege, there are always overtones that the midnight curfew or not being able to drive it on a roadtrip cramps their style. The miles are always excessive but our burbs do not have bus or train service so I bite my tongue. After au pair #3 totaled the au pair Escape we took TACL’s advise and bought an earlier model (2008), high mileage, safe replacement Escape. I was tempted by a late model Subaru but resisted. Glad we did because the next au pair cracked the tail light, put a long scratch on it and slight ding which we are not fixing. The car goes when the aupairs stop.

MoCo Host mom January 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

We did the math on every mile the AP needs to drive in one month to get kids to school, practice, etc. Then we rounded up, generously, and still find she can drive those miles all on one tank of gas. So we pay 1x per month and everything else comes out of her pocket (it’s a dedicated AP car)

German Au-Pair January 11, 2015 at 2:53 pm

My HP paid for all my gas because we lived in a city with no public transport, no sidewalks, no way to reach anying beyond the neighborhood without a car. They gave me a monthly allowance on an extra credit card with which I could pay for gas, food (we hardly ever ate together) and food for the kids when we were out. My job involved a lot of driving and since there was no other way to get around, they felt that was right.
They trusted me with that credit card and I never broke that trust.
I was incredibly grateful for this.
Of course, when I took the car on longer trips (I was allowed to take it wherever…again: incredibly grateful) I would fill the tank with my own money.

UKAu Pair January 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

My French family didn’t allow me to drive, full stop, so petrol wasn’t an issue.

My Italian family allowed me free reign with the car, and the previous au pair used it a lot to drive to basketball and into Florence because it’s a very rural area without public transport, but I drove the car twice with the family and then never wanted to again. I wasn’t comfortable driving on the right hand side (going to change gear and almost opening the door!) and the car was old with a very unreliable handbreak. I would have been fine if I’d needed to drive, but it wasn’t required as part of my job and when I went to my Italian lessons 8km away in the nearest town I cycled there and back and enjoyed myself much more than I would have done if I’d been driving. I used to go out cycling almost every day out there.

So, what with one thing and another, neither I nor my host families ever paid a penny towards my petrol use.

Kate January 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm

We have a car that the AP uses to drive the kids in and another AP car for her personal use. She is an excellent AP so we fill her personal tank if we notice it is empty. She has never asked us too.

SKNY January 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm

We live near no where and Au pair had to drive. She was allowed to drive up to 2h from here.
During week they drive Au pair car and mainly drove local or to school. So I isually did not charge for that. On weekends they drove my personal (very economic) car and I requested they pay for gas.
Ap1 and 2 did great. The second time ap 2 came to us her best friend had a family give her a gas card and they paid for it all the time (true, I met the family). That brought a lot of tension because she felt she was as good and loyal as Au pair as they were. The 3rd time she was with us (came as a tourist to save us when I was close to deliver) she requested we paid gas. We made a deal where I filled tank on Friday nights and she would use it (and return car with 1/4 tank full). It was fair but cost me a good $30 a week).
Ap 3 I requested she pay own gas (I would give tank full on Friday and she had to return full tank on Sunday).
Ap 4 I gave $25 a week, and regret it. Don’t feel she was worth it

DarthaStewart January 11, 2015 at 11:24 pm

The easiest thing we have found is that they just have their own car, and free use of it. They pay for their own gas. (we will top up occasionally). They use the other cars when they drive kids most of the time. But the au-pair car has fairly liberal limits on it, and it hasnt’ been an issue in a number of years now.

Mimi January 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm

We also live in a rural area where getting anywhere requires a car. We have an additional vehicle (older Volvo station wagon) for their use exclusively. Every single AP has had a minor accident in it and it no longer is all one color. (Although we have managed to get a dark blue passenger door and hood to somewhat blend in with the original black…) The accidents were all off duty and weren’t avoidable or egregious (deer strike, slid off road due to ice, parking lot damage, etc.) and we have never charged them for repairs. If we ever have to total the car, we will find an equally older vehicle to replace it. Insurance (which we pay) is more manageable with an older car, as is the deductible for these accidents and it still gets good gas mileage.

In the past, we have required the AP to drive the children and have kept the car gassed up for an estimated amount of regular weekly mileage. Beginning with AP #5, we haven’t need driving and so we gave her a gassed up car when she arrived and let her know filling it was up to her. If we needed an errand run or my husband used the car to pick up something that wouldn’t fit in his car, we gave her gas money to cover usage. He will also drive it every now and then to make sure it’s operating as it should. :)

From our handbook: “We are flexible with car usage. The Volvo is available for you to use exclusively. If you are not comfortable driving with the children, please let us know. Initially, we don’t expect you to do much driving until you are comfortable with the car and more familiar with the area, but driving is necessary as we live in a rural area. You will not be able to drive until (HF) has evaluated your driving skills and determined that it is safe for you to do so, especially in winter weather.

You are responsible for keeping the gas tank over ¼ full, keeping the car clean, and alerting us to any potential problems with the car. We will arrange for any service needed. We will gas the car if we have you doing driving or if we use the car. Any personal driving you do will be your responsibility to finance. As long as you prove to be a safe and careful driver, you’re welcome to use the car for personal use and to carry out errands within a certain travel radius. Any trips of significant distance or any car use out of state requires advance discussion with us, as does use of the car during bad weather. We reserve the right to restrict car use if we feel driving conditions are not safe.”

There are more specifics about accidents, etc., but this covers the gas issue.

Should be working January 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Here is something I don’t get about HFs that give the AP the oldest car in worst condition not just for personal use, but for ferrying kids around: Don’t you want your kids in the SAFEST car, which usually means the newest (and possibly biggest and most gas-guzzling)? Studies show, I believe, that while we may feel like big, old, heavy cars are safer, the newer cars have more safety mechanisms even if they have less overall weight and metal.

We don’t have an AP car. We have a kid-car and a non-kid-car. When she’s driving kids, she drives the newer and unfortunately bigger car (but it also has room for friends, instruments and bicycles). When she’s driving herself, she takes the other car.

If we had a 3rd car I think we would still divide it up in a similar way: Whoever drives the kids has the new car. I guess this lays bare that we are more concerned about our kids’ safety than the AP’s safety–i.e. when she’s out at night on her own she takes the older car–but no AP seems to mind because the older car is less “mom” like.

Mimi January 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I can’t speak for other HFs, but I think it’s a matter of costs. We don’t own newer cars ourselves and the AP mobile isn’t something we wouldn’t drive. At the time we got the AP mobile, one of our daily drivers was the same car (without a sunroof) with a manual transmission but a decade older. Mechanically, the AP’s car is in great condition, despite AP#5’s efforts…

Of our newer cars (which aren’t much newer), the newest doesn’t have the safety equipment the APmobile does (or power anything), and the other doesn’t hold enough carseats (or any safely IMO – it’s a pick-up truck). They are both also manual transmission vehicles which no one seems to care for these days.

BearCo HM January 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Same reason why you don’t give your newly licensed teenager the nicest car in the house to drive as their primary vehicle.

I could see this changing over time as kids get older. Would seem strange to not allow your 15 yr old to be driven around in the ‘crappy’ au pair car because it theoretically wasn’t as safe, but then presumably giving them something similar to drive themselves in a couple years when they got their own license. But I think most people with very young children want them driven in the safest car possible when possible.

Our AP drives the kids in my ‘nicer/safer’ car, but when it’s in the shop we put the car seats in the AP ‘crappy’ car and she drives them in that. (FYI – the AP car isn’t really crappy, just old) It’s more for the convenience of keeping the car seats/stroller in a single car that she drives my car with them. I don’t think there is a huge safety difference between the cars, despite all the safety bells & whistles the ‘nice’ one supposedly has. If I didn’t think the car was safe enough for my kids to ride in , I wouldn’t feel that great about my AP driving it either. The only difference I see between my car and the AP car is comfort level when driving and cost of parts to fix.

WarmStateMomma January 13, 2015 at 12:20 am

Our AP primarily drives the older car because of the repair cost issue, but that car was originally purchased with kids/safety in mind and both cars are basically the same from a safety/airbag perspective. The major differences in the two cars are horsepower and luxury features (and the non-AP car has no dents, scratches, or nail polish smudges).

HRHM January 13, 2015 at 12:47 am

In our case, there was no material difference in the “safety” of the 10 year old minivan vs the brand new wagon. Both had ABS, vehicle stability control, front and side curtain airbags, great overall safety ratings (we make our purchases based on these things – even ten years ago). What was different was the better stereo system, bluetooth phone connection (she shouldn’t be on the phone while driving regardless) and nicer paint condition. So she gets the crappiest vehicle because out of the three of us, she’s most likely to crash the car (each and every one of our APs has had some type of accident!) and I would rather have her dent/scratch/maul my least expensive vehicle than my most expensive one…

American Host Mom in Europe January 13, 2015 at 5:41 am

I laugh about all of this… it is so true, most of our au pairs have caused damage to our cars (some major, most minor, LOTS of bodywork). Unfortunately, we only have one car that will hold a driver and all three kids…which is also our nicest and most expensive car…so it tends to be the one that gets damaged. The AP car, hardly driven by HD or me (despite being a quite desireable high performance convertible sports car!) is just as safe (except in icy weather), and hardly ever gets damaged because it isn’t driven a lot…but would be cheaper to repair. Oh, well.

CAmom22 January 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Us too. A few months ago HD and I went out to buy a brand new SUV to replace the old one that AP drove the kids around in. We came home and pretty much handed the keys over to AP who seemed in shock. He (AP) was quite nervous initially but loves it now. I still find it funny that AP gets the brand new car while HD and I drive the old compact. But it makes sense because it’s the kids who really need the space (friends, sports equipment, etc.).

AlwaysHopeful HM January 13, 2015 at 9:36 am

I’m a single mom, but for inexplicable reasons, we’ve always had 2 cars. Neither is a car I would not drive or drive my son in. However, the older, bigger one happens to be paid for and cheaper to insure and repair. That is the one the AP generally drives, on duty or off, but that can change based on my desire/need to switch. Neither is the “au pair car” because I bought both for me! Also, my insurance company requires that I declare a primary driver on each car. I Iet our APs know which car they are “primary” on, but also explain the no AP car concept, so they are not surprised if my parents need to borrow one car for a week, and we end up sharing the one that remains.

Anon January 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

We don’t track mileage at all, so we are on the honor system. I think sometimes it comes back to bite us. AP1 was so good about putting gas in the car whenever she used it for something other than a cluster meeting or family/work related purpose. AP2 was defiant about it and never wanted to pay for gas, even when we allowed her to use one of the vehicles to drive herself and five of her AP friends to/from Ocean City for an extended weekend. She claimed we should pay for it. (That one went into rematch for other reasons.)

AP3 recently took my car for a weekend trip to a city about 2 hours away (each way). I encouraged her to go and wanted her to have a great time. My only two rules were that she couldn’t put anyone else in the car, since it was her first time driving it and she was clearly nervous about driving “MY” car, and that she needed to return it with a full tank of gas. She broke both rules and claimed that she didn’t know whether or not my car took unleaded or diesel so she couldn’t do it.

She could have texted me to ask. She could have looked at the inside of the gas cover. She could have … I don’t know. But it’s ridiculous that I had a completely empty tank of gas (range: 8 whole miles) when I got in the car on Monday morning with just enough time to make my typical 20+ mile commute.

Should be working January 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm

I’m tagging along to this thread an inquiry about driving and matching, a subject I know we have talked about a lot.

We match usually from a western European country where the APs are between high school and college, rarely older, and we are fine with that because our experience with younger au pairs has been better than with older ones anyway. The downside is that they have less driving experience. They have excellent driver education–much better than in the USA–but when it comes to how long they have had their license it is just usually not that long.

In the last 2 yrs, the country has implemented a change in the education system so that the “career” of the entire education (before university) is a year shorter. That means the high school grads are overall a year younger than they used to be. Which again translates into less driving experience.

Their system is such that they can get what for us would count as a “learner’s permit” at age 17 and there must be a parent in the car with them until they turn 18. There are advantages to this, as one applicant has pointed out: They have a LOT of corrections, suggestions and supervision on their driving from the parent.

So that’s background. We are interviewing an AP whom we like, who will turn 18 in May. Only then can she drive alone. And she should come to us in July, and she will need to do lots of driving for my school-aged kids. This makes me nervous–but the other APs I look at are not SO different, maybe they turn 18 in February and so would have 5 months experience driving alone. Meanwhile the candidate pointed out that she has driven to other cities with her parents, lots of freeways, and so on. So she does have experience. But still. But then again, the other candidates may have more months of independent driving but less actual experience.

I am revisiting the amazing lists of driving-related questions on this site, because I’m guessing that the only real answer is to carefully assess how much actual driving this May-birthday-AP will have had. But am I missing something, should I be reevaluating something much larger about taking youngish APs at all?

Should be working January 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Oops, I meant to put this at the very bottom of the thread. Sorry. Also, for comparison’s sake, I’m curious as to how many months’/years of driving experience you require of AP applicants.

Emerald City HM January 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

I do have to say that there is one advantage to younger drivers. They have the correction right there and less time to develop years of terrible driving habits. :)

AuPair Paris January 19, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Sounds like the UK! If it is – I wouldn’t worry too much about experience. She will have had *so many* lessons, as you point out – almost certainly with an instructor. Nearly everyone does. Maybe emphasise that you’d really like her to spend time getting confident driving alone in the couple of months after her test.

What I might worry about is whether she’ll actually *pass* the test in time. Our driving test is *brutally* judged – and nearly everyone takes a few times to pass. (My brother took six goes… He’s a good driver now! I never took it out of fear, though I had all the lessons – but then thankfully moved somewhere I didn’t need to drive.) Of course some people do pass first time – I had two friends who did. And some people take very, very intensive courses (“pass first time, or your money back” kind of thing). But I lived in a rural farming area where most kids had been driving tractors on private land since age six or something, and most people still failed first time around.

On the other hand, between May and July there’s time for a few attempts…

UKAu Pair January 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm

I don’t know where you live, but compulsory school education has just gone up to 18, not dropped to 15. :P And in the UK we don’t have any rules about how old you have to be before you can pass your test, or how long you have to have been driving with another adult.

I agree that if it’s a similar country (Scandinavia, Germany) then the lack of time driving ‘independently’ shouldn’t be a problem. By the time I passed my test my parents were only there because it was a legal requirement, and to tell me where to go. If she’s test standard, then she’s fine. Although you might want to insist that she pass first time if you’re really worried.

(I disagree on it being a particularly difficult test to pass here in the UK. I passed first time, my brother passed first time with no faults and three of my friends passed first time as well. The only people I know who didn’t pass first time are people that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the car with. They tend to be either too nervous, too cocky (speeding, making risky decisions), or simply dangerous.)

Ultimately, if you like her enough then I wouldn’t worry about her experience. As long as she’s passed and you check her driving when she gets to you then you should be fine. She’ll probably find it easier in the US- the vast majority of Europeans drive a manual, and a big part of learning to drive is clutch control, environmentally-friendly driving and learning not to pull away at a roundabout in third gear (guilty).

Should be working January 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm

This AP passed her country’s driving test the first time, which I gather is an achievement, she says her friends needed at least two chances. So there is no further test she has to pass. The law there is simply that a legal driver/parent must be in the car until she turns 18.

I like this law, and I think it’s all reasonable. It just means that she will not have driven alone in a car for more than 8 weeks when she comes to us. I usually have a professional driving lesson (at my expense) for new APs, so they can be evaluated and learn our local driving customs and practice the main routes. I just keep thinking–would I hire an American with 2 months’ independent driving experience? No. But then again that would mean a 16 yr old, and our crappy, minimal driving tests. So it’s apples and oranges…or is it?

AuPair Paris January 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Ah, didn’t read it properly – not the UK then.

We’ll have to agree to differ about the driving test. Perhaps it’s different in different areas – though it shouldn’t be. Or perhaps you come from a wealthier area where people are able to pay for more lessons before attempting the test. Certainly, none of my friends who took multiple attempts to pass are cocky or dangerous, even if nerves seem fairly inevitable…

TexasHM January 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

We do older APs for other reasons but here’s a thought too – just because her parent is in the car doesn’t negate that year of driving experience. Yes, I think its great they get that additional coaching but I wouldn’t discredit that time/hours either. I guess what I am saying is if she passed the test (assuming its hard like assumed) I would consider her an experienced driver with 14 months behind the wheel vs 2 months. We had an AP that had less than 6 mos driving experience when she arrived (so passed her drivers test less than 90 days before we matched) and she was a quick learner and did great so unfortunately I think its so hard to tell! Our longest driver (owned a car and driven for 8 years!!!) was our worst by far. :( Because of that, we took the 3 month driver and she did great, passed the test first try, fast learner so I look more at how hard the test is and how strong the candidate is and try to triangulate a guess on driving. (I know, horrifying but until the agencies test them before coming its almost impossible to ever be sure.) You might also see how confident she is that she will pick it up – share your concerns (perfect challenge email topic) and see if she can convince you she is strong enough to do it (even knowing if she can’t its a dealbreaker). Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch January 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Because I only match with Extraordinnaires or APs with extensive experience with children who have special needs (I prefer at least one year of direct experience), I tend to a) get APs older than 21 – not always, our favorite was 19 and the one who needed constant job coaching turned 19 during her year; and b) get APs with 4 or more years of driving experience – including driving to their practical experiences, voluntary year of service, or paying job. However, the majority of the APs with whom we match still tend to drive on rural roads most of the time, so there is still a steep learning curve on our urban roads.

I do not look at any candidates who haven’t possessed a full license for at least a year, because my state has a reciprocal agreement with many European countries, but the AP must have had a full license for at least one year.

Should be working January 19, 2015 at 10:23 pm

I think this candidate’s license IS a full license. It is not ta learner’s permit, although it is similar to our learner’s permit because she is by law–not by the license itself–not allowed to drive without an adult until she herself is 18. So she has the license, and won’t need to go get any other license to be able to drive alone. She simply has to turn 18.

Unlike in the USA, it seems that there is a law about having an adult driver in the car for under-18 drivers, but it is not related to the status of the license. License seems to be yes or no, and then there is a law that under 18 needs the adult.

She wrote back very nicely when I expressed concern in email, pointing out the freeway trips to other cities where she drove, and lots of other examples.

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