Taking An Au Pair on Vacation: Hotel Room Arrangements

by cv harquail on April 9, 2015

Already looking forward to your summer vacation?  If you’re planning to bring your Au Pair, now is the time to start talking about vacation arrangements –especially how you plan to manage hotel rooms.

Au Pairs should be provided with their own private room to sleep in — that’s what the Agencies require. The Agencies require a separate room for the Au Pair while traveling, because this fulfills the requirement of an Au Pair having a private room with a door wherever s/he lives.

Unfortunately for Host Families, the cost of an additional barbiehotelhotel room ‘just for the au pair’ can be burdensome. The ‘average daily rate’ for a hotel room in the USA is $122.   Multiply that by 3 for a long weekend and 7 for a full week, and you’ve just tacked on an additional $400 to $900 to your vacation costs.

Given that the added cost of bringing an au pair on vacation can be high just for fare, food, and attractions, many Host Families (mine among them) have tried to work out some kind of room sharing between their au pair and their kids.

Here’s what I’ve heard people recommend for Au Pair Lodging:

  • If your au pair will be working during the vacation, you really should get her/him a separate room. S/he will need serious downtime and alone time. The ‘vacation’ will be just a work week in a different place, so you should do everything you can to make her/his work life easier.


  • If your au pair is coming along as a family member (maybe doing a couple hours a day of babysitting — but no more), it’s more okay to ask her/him to share a bedroom with a child or children.

In this situation, you need to make sure that your Au Pair has serious ‘bathroom privacy— maybe have the kids shower, etc. in your room — so that the au pair can have all the time he/she needs for personal care.

Your should also make sure your Au Pair has some serious “evening privacy“.  S/he needs a place where s/he can watch TV, read, listen to music with headphones, etc. while ‘off duty’ without worrying about waking the kids.

You might have the kids fall asleep in your room and then transfer them to the room with the Au Pair, or let you,r Au Pair hang out in your (clean, empty) room during the evening until s/he’s ready to go to sleep.

You might also give your Au Pair some defined fun time. Give her/him hours, tickets, and equipment —  or whatever else s/he might need —  to go off and do something exciting on her/his own. Again, it’s time off and some personal space for fun, to make up for those kids in the other double bed.

If I were an au pair, I’d be more likely to compromise on sleeping arrangements and privacy if it meant that I could come along to somewhere exciting (Hawaii? Harry Potter World? Mount Rushmore?) versus somewhere really dull. (The middle of somewhere-near-nowhere.)  On the other hand, if the trip was really going to be no fun for me, the least I should take away from it is a week’s worth of hotel soaps and shampoos.

Under no circumstances should you expect an Au Pair to share a room with the Host Parents.

Share with Another Adult?

With the au pair’s express permission and the agreement of a second Adult person, you might ask him/her to share with someone like a Grandmom — but you’d better be ready to pony up another room in case that second Adult snores or is otherwise annoying to be around. And your Au Pair gets to decide that– not you.

Alternatives to Pricey Hotels

If you’re traveling with kids and an Au Pair, you might also try different kinds of lodging so that your au pair (and you)  can have some privacy.

For example,  Airbnb house rentals can be cost-effective and have more rooms where au pairs can hang out undisturbed. Regular BnB’s have living rooms where Au Pairs can hang out while kids go to sleep.

You might also look for another place entirely for your Au Pair. Perhaps there’s a youth hostel– which you could pay for but would still be less than a hotel. Maybe there’s another Au Pair s/he can visit, in which case you can take the Host Parents out to dinner?

Camping? Borrow an extra tent. Even if you have to share a campsite and have tents up close to each other, at least your au pair can zip up the front flap to ward off mosquitoes and your adorable 4 year old.

All bets are off, though, if you do take a trip in an RV.  Or for that matter on a boat.  Obviously, there’s no such thing as your own room if you’re in bunks or berths.  How do families survive these? I have no idea.

What has your family done to manage hotel expenses when taking an Au Pair on vacation with you?


Dorsi April 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

We do our best to provide the AP with private-ish accomodations when we travel, but we do not feel obligated to give her a private hotel room. For visits to family (probably the least exciting of any kind of travel), we have put kids on the landing and in with the parents so that AP can have a private accommodation. However, at fancy resort destinations, we have had the AP on a sofa bed in the same room with kids.

We did VRBO last time we traveled, and AP had a room to herself; that is certainly my preference. As we are a family of 5 (without AP), hotels don’t often work well for us. The agencies think that it is acceptable for the APs to go a full week in the US without any bathroom or bedroom privacy when they arrive. I don’t feel badly about the 5-10 nights/year that my AP may share with kids.

SKNY April 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

We took one au pair to a very expensive resort trip and it was expensive. Not only she had to have a room at the resort, but I didn’t remember the hotel on the way up and down (15hs trip that we decided to break in 2). In the end, I don’t think it was worth it (it was my terrible moody au pair). In the future, unless au pair is an awesome au pair (who I truly love), she may have an extra week of vacation and stay home. Had I taken one of my teen friend’s with us and just said: “you guys watch the kids a few hrs a day, so that HD and I can have a little free time”, we would have saved a lot of money and enjoyed it more.

UKAu Pair April 9, 2015 at 9:29 am

I have rejected families who expected me to sleep in the same room as their children (bear in mind I au pair in Europe, not the USA, so often I’m looking at just a month or two [over the summer holidays, for example] rather than a whole year).

For me, the location and fanciness of the accommodation was irrelevant. I know that I need somewhere I can go to recharge, sleep and keep my things without grubby hands rifling through my suitcase. I also know that after a full day of childcare (no 10-hour rule in Europe, so I have done 60-hour weeks looking after 5 children) the last thing I want is to spend more time with the children, especially if they are noisy during the night.

I would probably be ok with sharing a room with a teenager (ideally female), but the idea of sharing a bunk bed with a two year old for a month, as one family proposed, just sounded horrendous. I need to sleep!

To summarise, if it was a true holiday (no childcare above being a family member) and I already knew the HK well and knew that sharing wasn’t going to be an issue, and that they were old enough to understand if I asked them to let me read in peace, then I’d probably be okay. If I’m there to provide a significant amount of childcare, or you have toddlers, then you’re better off finding another AP who will be less grumpy when she’s sleep-deprived! Camping is also a bit different- we have large tents with ‘pods’, which makes life a lot easier.

This summer I’m going to be au pairing for a family with twin teenage boys, one of whom has ADHD. The first 4 weeks of my 6-week stay we will be on holiday and I’ll be working 3-6 hours a day. I’m really looking forward to it, but it simply wouldn’t be appropriate, in my opinion, for these boys to share a room with me. In addition, it’s their holiday as well! They don’t want a girl they barely know waking up at the crack of dawn every morning to go running before they wake up.

spanishaupair April 9, 2015 at 9:54 am

For me would depend a lot in age of kids if they are babies and toddlers no, will mean that im also working during night, if kids are older and usually sleep all night and for not a long period is fine.

This year i will go for the first time in all my aupair experiences on holliday with my HF, but we are going camping for a weekend and will get my own tent. Im really looking forward it but also quite nervous

exaupair April 9, 2015 at 10:16 am

My understanding is that when the AP is invited to join the family for a trip with everything paid for, then it’s perfectly fine to put her on the additional bed, or a blow up mattress in the kids room. It is still a great treat for them.
On the other hand, if they are expected to work during the trip they get a separate bedroom. The HP as their employer need to provide a certain standard of accommodation, since the AP is an adult they get a separate room period.
Personally I would refuse to go and do any work during a family holiday if the HP expected me to share a room. They, as parents might as well share the bedroom with the kids if they were that desperate to save up.

NoVA Twin Mom April 9, 2015 at 11:16 am

That was my understanding as well – that there was two “standards” – one if the au pair is expected to work (that they had to have their own room), and one if the au pair is invited purely as a member of the family (that sharing could be possible). Can anyone else confirm this? I think this is a big distinction – and as usual, may be agency-specific.

As some of the au pairs are chiming in – if they’re expected to be on duty, then they especially need a place to recharge (not that they don’t in any case, but particularly if they’re on duty).

But if we’re going to Disney and are inviting you along because we think you’d have a good time and we have an extra spot in the room, we are planning to FULLY pay for your plane ticket, to FULLY pay for your theme park entry and for all your food – then maybe asking you to share a spot in a room with all people of your same sex (which might include the host mom if you’re female), and all we’re asking in return is that you pay for your own souvenirs and that if you see a bus headed straight for our kid you grab the kid – maybe that’s not such a bad deal for the au pair. Even if, yes, it involves sharing a room. With a host mom.

There really are host families where that happens. And every au pair we’ve offered this kind of trip to has enthusiastically accepted, taken pictures of the group and offered the files to us (which we have enthusiastically taken, and reciprocated), and helped wrangle luggage and strollers through airports on the way there and back. After all, Disney is fun as an adult, but it’s really fun with little kids. And we’ve made sure to give the au pairs accompanying us time to themselves, whether it is time to themselves in the bathroom without little companions or whole days or evenings (in addition to their official “time off”) to find local or vacationing au pairs to meet up with and have fun with people their own age.

When we do drag them “home to meet the family”, which we do once or twice a year, we make sure that wi fi will be available and warn them about the lack of activities available for people their age. Then they can choose to stay home if they wish, or go to the “beach” with us in the Midwest. All have chosen to accompany us to the Midwest, lake-based beach, but have appreciated the warning to bring reading material with them. We also make an effort to plan an “activity” a day, even if it’s a local tourist attraction, so that there is something for them to do every day to alleviate the boredom that some of the au pairs here seem to have experienced. :)

UKAu Pair April 9, 2015 at 11:31 am


There’s definitely a distinction between a real ‘holiday’, where you’re invited to come as a member of the family, and a working ‘holiday’ when you’re expected to work.

Your example of a trip to Disneyland, where you’re inviting the AP along because you think they’d have a good time, and this will mean sharing a room with (age/gender-appropriate) people, is absolutely one of the cases when sharing a room is in the spirit of the programme and isn’t, to me, a problem.

Like anything, it comes down to clear expectations and clear communication.

Amelie April 9, 2015 at 10:41 am

Once I travaled with my host family to their beach property for 2 weeks and I had to share a room with three young kids (around 3 to 5) for the second week, after some additional guests arrived.

It was not that bad since I stayed outside on the deck reading or using my computer until I went to sleep, and in the morning they left the room right after they got up, but it certainly wasn’t great.

For the first week, I was with the 1-yo baby sleeping in my room. It was very annoying, because he would wake up very early, and I could either ignore him crying and try to sleep until somebody got him, or I could get up and take him, although I wasn’t supposed to work until much later.

It was only for 2 weeks and my HF was very good, so I agreed to these arrangements. However, I don’t believe they knew how big of a tool it took on me. I was isolated from my friends and pretty much anything else, didn’t have any social life or those 2 weeks (atually 3 whole weekends) and nearly no time for myself (I did have time off, but not really a place where I could relax and disconect from work.

If possible, I strongly suggest getting your au pair a private room, or at least some place where she can be alone without interruptions for a while during the day. If you feel that would be to expensive, or impossible to do, maybe yeah, just leave her at home doing some kid-related tasks, or give her a vacation at the same time, unless you really need her. And please, make sure you understand that not an easy situation and you appreciate her being flexible about it.

Amelie April 9, 2015 at 10:48 am

PS I realize that saying I had 3 weekends of no social life sounds like whining, but we au pairs are already isolated from family and friends during our au pair year, and socializing on the weekend can be very important.

OhioHM April 9, 2015 at 10:59 am

I have not brought our au pairs on vacation. I always plan to, but when it comes down to it, we both feel like we are doing the other one a favor (her by coming, and me by including/paying for her), and it just doesn’t make sense.

I would much rather hire a sitter through the hotel for the few hours that I need, and give my au pair a little bit of spending money to go somewhere on her own. It saves me money and aggravation, and we are all happier.

Christina April 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

We had our first au pair go to Hawaii with us. She shared a room with our then 7 year old daughter and my husband and I had the 5 year old an 1 year old in our room. The room adjoined, so the au pair did not have to be in the room once our daughter went to bed. It worked out very well. Our au pair did watch the kids at times, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere close to 45 hours a week. We gave her a helicopter tour in return for watching the youngest one while we did a bus tour of the island one day. It worked out well.

When we go to the beach closer to our home, we rent a condo and the au pair has a room of her own. Often, the au pair just comes for a few days.

Multitasking Host Mom April 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

Cultural Care discussed in their handbook room accommodations when traveling. I don’t have it in front of me to quote but it states pretty much what CV said above….the au pair is working = own room….the au pair is not working or not fully responsible adult = sharing room with kid is okay. We do take our AP on at least one week long trip a year to a fun destination. The AP might watch the kids one or two evenings so we HP can go to dinner, but for the most part they get to be tourist like the rest of the family. We stay in hotels that offer two room suites. Normally these are cheaper than two separate hotel rooms, and by doing it this way we can afford in the budget to take the AP with us. HP and HK are in one room with two double beds and the AP gets the fold out couch/bed in the “living room” of the hotel suite. Sure it is cozy, but it is only for one week a year and the APs get to go on a trip with all expenses paid. (For the record, they could always say they don’t want to go, but no one has turn us down yet. Also, especially with our last two APs we were very close to them and they still remain “part of the family”. Taking them on the trip was our way of saying thank you for their hardwork.)

HRHM April 9, 2015 at 11:44 am

We also take our AP with us on vacation fairly often but always as a family member. For our first AP we got her her own room and since then we get a second room but the AP and HPs take turns with who’s room the kids are in. This give AP some alone time and also HPs some alone time. These trips are always 100% optional but I haven’t had an AP decline yet, even knowing that they have to share with two little girls.

Multitasking Host Mom April 9, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Also, when we where with our first agency, I learned they put four APs to a hotel room during their training. Being a first time HM and hearing the talk about an AP needing their own seperate bedroom from the agency, I was just surprised that the agency did this. I mean when I was in college sharing a dorm room with a roommate at least I had my own bed.

Boys Mama April 9, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Hilarious! Great point, MHM.

WestMom April 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

I know InterExchange did this a few years back when our first AP arrived. but none of our APs have shared beds in training since AP#2 in 2010… In their defense, they do train in NYC, where hotel rooms can’t be very cheap.

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! April 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I think there’s a difference for the training week – they’re 3-4 girls to a room of the same age, all going to the same training sessions. It’s not like they have to sneak into a room with a sleeping toddler and then be woken up by the child at 6am. I think the recharge time if they’re working on the trip is valid. That being said, I have had au pairs come on a trip and share a hotel room with me and 1-2 of the kids – in these cases it’s a choice of whether they want to come at all or want to stay home. They watch the child a few hours while I run a race and get a weekend in NYC or Chicago – it’s fun for all of us.

WarmStateMomma April 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

We would all travel much less if I had to foot the bill for a private room for the AP wherever we go, or she just wouldn’t get invited. I make the arrangements that work for my comfort and budget, and then give the AP the option of accepting those arrangements or not joining us. I’m not going to spend double on my family vacation to give an AP her own room, but I won’t be upset if she turns down the trip either.

We rented a one-bedroom house with 2 sofa beds in Hawaii last year for the cost of one hotel room. The AP agreed readily to take a sofa bed, but we switched with her after the first night because 2 parents and a toddler were super crowded in the tiny bedroom and we felt trapped in there (trying to give the AP some privacy while she was in bed). Moving her to the bedroom let us spread out across a much bigger space and eliminated a lot of the awkward privacy issues. Our AP didn’t take me up on the suggestion that she find other APs online to connect with, she just wanted to hang with us while we explored the islands.

We just booked a family trip last night and won’t have room for the AP to join us at the beach condo my sister rented for all of us. So we offered her use of my parents’ home for her and a friend – 15 minutes from Disney. She’s really, really excited and will probably need a break from us by the time that trip rolls around….

We are considering a national parks road trip for this fall – either car camping or renting an RV. We will give her the choice of joining us or using some vacation time. Camping with kids isn’t for everyone so I won’t be surprised if she’d rather do something else. Like our other travel invites, it’s take it or leave it with no hard feelings either way.

HRHM April 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm

I would also mention that after 7 APs, we have only had one that had even been on a family vacation prior to their year with us. Brazilian, Serbian, Bosnian, Czech, 2 German and a Pole – only the more affluent German had travelled with her family. (might explain why they were pretty flexible regarding accomodations since they had no preconceived notions) A couple had travelled with friends and two lived abroad in pretty dismal housing. After hostels, I’d imagine the hotels we stay in are pretty posh even sharing with kids.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 9, 2015 at 7:42 pm

We invite au pairs along as family members, and always get a suite or adjoining rooms, with doors open during waking hours. I feel strongly that a family vacation is shared with family (for good and bad). I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d be comfortable spending $1000 or more extra to make sure our au pair didn’t have to be bothered with us.

Our last au pair took a trip to So Cal with us. He mostly had his own (adjoining) room, but also shared with my son for part of the trip. He met up with an au pair friend a couple of evenings, but for the rest of the trip, hung exclusively with us. He was really,really appreciative and talked about the trip for months afterwards.

Our current au pair took a few days trip to Disney with us. Granted, accommodations were tighter. He shared a room with my son and my dad, and my mom and I shared the adjoining room. I told him he was free to roam the parks some on his own– I could understand not wanting to ride Dumbo, or the Teacups. For the most part, though, he stayed with us, but was overwhelmed by Disney and the togeherness and was pretty miserable. I really wished that he had stayed back at home, and he wasnt invited to our spring break trip to the mountains.

I don’t ask our au pairs to work on vacation, but I do expect them to pitch in like family, and endure the same cramped, sleep-deprived conditions we all do, as a part of the family experience!

GermanAuPair April 9, 2015 at 3:08 pm

I went on vacation with my hostfamily three times – the first time about a week after my arrival – I shared a bedroom with the kids (4 and 2). I didn’t mind but it wasn’t easy because the little one woke up a few times a night and cried and since she was just starting to bond with me she didn’t calm down until her Mom got her. The second time we all (my hostparents, the girls and I) stayed in one room (that actually was a misunderstanding because my HD’s friend had booked the rooms…) and we had a great time. The last one was a trip to Disney :) and I shared a room with the kids, again. The first night is one of my favorite AuPair-memories… The little one woke me in the middle of the night – bright awake, excited and ready to see the Princesses – there was no way to get her back to sleep so I took her to the lobby (we were both barefoot and in pj’s) because from there we could see the castle… When we got back we sat on the balcony for a while (it was pretty warm) and chatted until she fell asleep on my lap. Then I could take her back to (my) bed and she slept in my arms. I didn’t get very much sleep that night but very special moments with my little girl ;) The rest of the vacation was a lot of fun, too, of course! There’s nothing better than the Magic Kingdom with two little girls…

WarmStateMomma April 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm

So sweet! “Part of the family” at its best.

TexasHM April 9, 2015 at 4:15 pm

I tend to be an outlier in this area (at least I think I am). Because we try to follow everything letter of the law and because it does say when working the AP needs a private room (and because family vacations are bonding time with our kiddos and often other family meets us or lives in the destination) we don’t have our APs work on our vacation trips. Could there be a situation where we make an exception in the future? Maybe but would have to be compelling.

Aside from the costs of an additional separate room, we also just found it too messy to try and schedule an AP to work during trips which are often fluid. Without being able to give the AP a set schedule and private room we decided against it as a whole.

Now, here is where I think we are outliers. We invite the APs to come, no hard feelings either way, but if they go it counts as their vacation as well and they pay for some of their expenses. For example first Disney AP trip (we have done 3 now) the AP paid her plane ticket, Disney ticket and any restaurant meals out. We covered everything else (rented a condo, groceries, meals at condo, gas, car rental, etc). All three trips were fun but we wouldn’t necessarily have gone to Disney if the AP wasn’t going so we were willing to build it into the vacation but with a family of 5 we just cant cover a 6th for Disney if we want to take other trips throughout the year. So AP ended up paying out I think $800 for the 10 day trip which was far cheaper than her friends that did a shorter FL Disney trip.

I have several examples but the net-net is they can go or not, if they do its at least some vacation (10 day trip we counted as one week vs 10 days) and they pay their incidentals and we cover all the group stuff. All the APs have opted in, only one trip was ever declined and it was an extension AP that had already been the year before where we were going so she instead took vacation with friends at the same time – win/win.

Last November we did Branson, got a big house on vrbo and AP chipped in $100 for her room (we got a bigger house to get the additional bedroom) and show/theme park tickets. It was 9 days and likely cost her $500 or less and we did A LOT. She loved it.

This November we are trying something new – a cruise! We got a great deal on a 2 bedroom suite and invited AP and told her she gets to decide if she wants the couch bed in the living room or bed in the room with kids bunks if she goes. She can opt out and this was an expensive trip from an AP perspective but it will be a 9 day trip overall out of New Orleans to the western caribbean and she is just paying her cruise fare and any excursions she wants (we will likely cover the ones where she goes with us). She is thrilled. I have seen too many APs come back depressed from Hawaii and Disney “family vacations”!

To clarify, the APs can go or not, if not we ask them to take vacation at the same time (we state this in matching and have given every AP more than 2 weeks of vacation a year but easier to give extra than set an expectation). If yes then they go as vacationers as well, don’t work (aside from grabbing a kid about to step in front of a bus in front of them) and can jet off anytime they want. We make plans and they can join or stay at the hotel/condo/house or go/do something else on their own.

Yes, our APs often get chided by other APs for taking vacations with us vs vacations with other APs but we make sure even if they take both weeks of vacation with us that they get opportunities to travel (extra day off for 3 day weekend and low fare deal I found for example) and we take lots of weekend trips during the year the APs are always invited to join. Like most things its relative. Our APs chip in on family vacations but also go as guests and overall get more vacation and travel in a year than their peers (sweeping generalization based on 5 years in program). It is all about being transparent and setting expectations. We did a weekend trip last Labor Day to a resort and AP tagged along. We went with friends who asked our AP if she could watch our kids so adults could have dinner. We declined. AP said she was happy to do it and wanted to. After much discussion our friends let her crash in their second hotel room (moved kids) and we payed for everything on the trip in exchange for her watching the kids a few hours that night. She loved that trip.

Mimi April 9, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Our vacations are very low-key. We go camping (mostly long weekends) or to a family cottage for one or two weeks each year with lots of day trips in between. All our (formal) vacations are working ones with structured hours and opportunities for the APs to get away by themselves or have personal time. We spend a lot of time together on vacation as a family playing games or being outdoors. The kids usually wear themselves out early and the adults just relax and socialize or play cards. We talk about this during the matching process so a potential AP will understand she’s not going to get a 5 star vacation with us.

I’ve always been nervous camping with APs because we don’t go to big resorts, but all that have come have enjoyed it and not felt too “stuck with us.” We are tent campers and only started using mattresses in the last few years. We have given the APs a choice of accommodations as we have a large two room tent where the AP would be on one side and 5 of us were on the other or they can use a much smaller single tent. One year, we borrowed a larger small tent at the AP’s request, but it leaked and we all ended up in the big tent anyway. We spend most days at the ocean and do lots of day trips to local attractions and eat out quite a bit. (Boiling water to wash dishes stinks!)

The cottage is a one room/3 BR cape with partition walls two blocks from a lake. It’s very rustic (indoor plumbing was an addition in my lifetime). The AP has her own room, and the boys share the bunkbeds in another, while HD and I have the third. On occasion, we’ve had other family members on one of 3 pull-out couches and APs have had friends down for an overnighter (or several) where they’ve floor crashed on the screened-in porch. There’s no TV and only occasional wifi but the hiking trails, kayaking, bike trails and local scenery seem to make up for the lack of fanciness.

I’m infinitely grateful that there was no vacation last year while I was pregnant because AP #5 would have been a nightmare. Unfortunately, we have camping plans with extended family the weekend that AP#7 arrives in July so we’re thinking of swapping things around so she won’t arrive to such a non-typical schedule and bombardment of relatives.

Seattle Mom April 9, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Our vacations are similar- we generally go camping or rent a very rustic cabin somewhere (if it’s too cold for camping). Or we visit family. So far we haven’t taken any au pair on vacation- we’ve managed to get them to schedule their vacations to coincide with ours.

I did take one au pair with me on a work trip when my kids were really small.. we stayed at my mother in law’s house and my au pair shared a huge bedroom with my older daughter who slept through the night. I shared a small bedroom (and bed) with my baby. Our au pair worked for 2 days and then had 3 days off to explore the city- she just needed to be home in the early evening to help me put the kids to bed. It worked out well for all. I did offer the au pair the choice of coming on this trip or not, but if she didn’t come the kids would have been left home with her and DH and that might have been tough- I hadn’t been separated from my baby yet overnight, and neither of us were ready to.

Our current au pair likes to go camping so we might invite her on our upcoming camping trip.. we have an extra tent for her, but I am not sure if she will want to come since it is on the weekend and she will be working all week. I wouldn’t ask her to work at all, just help out when she’s hanging out with us (and help with dishes and stuff). It’s kind of an amazing park we are going to, so I think it would be a good time.

Mimi April 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

We’ve never been lucky enough to have an AP want vacation time when we take ours. Probably because scheduled hours on our vacation are usually pretty reduced and rarely exceed 30 hours so they are still getting a break from the regular routine while also getting paid for less hours.

WestMom April 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

Hi Mimi. I have actually been asking that AP take one of her vacation week at the same time as our August vacation. We usually go away for 3 weeks to Europe (APs home country, so AP definitely doesn’t want to come!!). All in all, AP generally gets quite a bit more than 3 weeks, more like 5 so I feel it’s ok to ask that some of her vacation is at the same time as ours.

Mimi April 11, 2015 at 8:35 am

One if the reasons we bring the AP is that HD sometimes isn’t there for up to a week of our vacation depending on his workload at the time, the availability of the cottage, and my need to request vacation time so far in advance from my work. I’m used to this since he travels frequently for work but it’s not a vacation for me without another pair of hands and potentially dangerous around the water.

We will actually be doing without an AP on vacation this year since she won’t have arrived yet and we are on an AP break right now. It was one way to defray child care needs in the interim but will probably work out the same for future arrivals.

My 14 & 15 y/o nieces are asking to tag along so we may indulge them in order to get some adult time during daylight hours.

SKNY April 11, 2015 at 9:26 am

If you have nieces or other teens who want to tag, I recommend that vs Au pair. We traveled twice to a resort in this condition. Once there were 2 friends of my teen daughter, once a 17yo cousin.
The way I did both way is that I asked that they help with the girls 3-4hs each day (nap time from 1-3, and every other evening/night.) so DH and I could use a few hrs to go around the beach or to resort tiki bar. And however came tagged with my teen.
Worked perfectly. The informal helpers had more
energy, than my Au pairs when traveling, were happy to lend a hand at any time, but most refreshing: they were very gracious and thankful. They said thank you for everything… Ice cream, museum, park, meals… I felt even more giving because I was being appreciated. They loved the vacation and I ended up giving them some money for the help anyway (even though they all declined… And I had to convince them to take… About 50-80 dollars but still…)
Now… Last year I did the same with my Au pair… I scheduled her the same few hrs, same rotation schedule (because I thought it worked well for people not getting paid, a person who is getting paid will love it). And was a disaster. Not even to talk about the fact that none of my Au pairs ever think of saying thank you for anything. Park? Museum? Drink by the pool? Dinner in a restaurants? Nothing! And will complain of kids noise or food wasn’t good enough, or we didn’t stay long enough on the aquarium…
We ended up rematching the day we came back from vacation (lots happened on that week). But the result is that I will gladly take a teen with me than an Au pair

Mimi April 11, 2015 at 9:39 am

They’re not the most motivated teens and both quite boy crazy right now. :)We’ve taken them in the past and they need a lot of micromanaging but at least I can ground them if they drive me bananas and text nonstop.

NewbieHM April 12, 2015 at 11:49 am

Can’t you pick one of their vacation weeks? I pick one and AP picks the other one.

WestMom April 11, 2015 at 6:47 am

You always remind of me Seattle mom… We are big nature fans and love camping. I am so excited about our summer vacation this year. AP2 is coming to visit for almost 3 weeks, so she and AP7 will be joining us to a rustic lodge in New Hampshire for a few days of hiking. I haven’t decided what the sleeping arrangements will be yet, but either two rooms of 4, or one room with 8 bunks! In the past, we really have never had any problems with AP sharing room/bed with our kids. This happens during family holidays, so never ‘working trips’, which we have never done. It’s actually a huge treat for the kids to get to sleep in the same bed as AP. APs don’t seem to mind sleeping with any of our 3 tween girls (maybe except for one who steals all the blankets, like me!)

DCBurbTwinMomma April 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

We mostly vacation down to our home in Florida which has 4bed/3bath. We are gone for 3-4 weeks down there so her not working would not be practicable. She gets her own bed and bath but functions as if it’s home. We have also taken au pairs to San Francisco where hotels are pricey. There we rented a house cheaper than a week’s hotel rate and again she had a room. Similarly our trips to the Outer Banks, Savannah, Nashville, Cape Cod and the Keys have all included house rentals. I truly believe the au pair needs space to have those animated conversations, watch TV and eat junk or giggle with friends from training school that she hasn’t otherwise seen. We have not yet gone on a vacation where we didn’t assume/expect the au pair would have her own room.

Nordic auparair April 10, 2015 at 7:50 am

I was traveling with every family I was aupair at. The first one we traveledDto France and they rented whole house so room wasn’t is he, and I was also working. The second I traveled by my self to Greece with kids, long story about moving to India etc., and we were visiting families relatives.
The kids were adorable andDk love them still but the sleeping arrangements weren’t best. First I stayed in Athens and I had the room but it was former office and uncle of kids was smoking in that room during day, I seriously couldn’t stop coffincoffin during night! Kids slept with aunt and uncle in same room. No need to say that he smokedDthere too! Than with kids and aunt and ankle we traveled to mountains where we were at their summer house and I slept in living room, but they were really considerate and kids we’re lovely and everything was fine no smoking there :-D. Then we went to their private island I. Greece and thereEi had my room again even thou I didn’t really need it I felt like memberRof their huge family coca 13 people :-D. The third family we traveled to middle of nowhere and I was taking care of triplets for almost month. I spend CA 3,5 weeks sleeping with two of those kids in same room and I had no space to relax by myself even thou I worked over 60 h a week. You can imagine it didn’t go that well with this family. The problem was I had no free time nowhere to go no space to relax I couldn’t even call home on Skype unles it was at 1 am when parents when to sleep from living room.
Now with my family we go for vacation to Cyprus and me and ssecond auapair yes we are two in thi family are going to share room most likely, and we are working but we are both fine with it so that is no problem…

exaupair April 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

I’m surprised you’re calling what you described ‘not bad’. And on top of that you have worked 60hrs per week. I’m speechless, I thought human rights tend to be respected more around Scandinavia than anywhere else…

Nordic aupair April 10, 2015 at 1:07 pm

it was different families every trip one two France one family, the second one to Greece another family and triplets the crazy work 60 h new family. None of those was from Scandinavia.
Now I am at fourth family and they are Scandinavians and we are going to do trip with them to. Which i believe is going to be fun and relaxing.

Texas5TimeHostMom April 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

Travel….sigh. We’ve done a lot. Au Pair #2 was with us when we had a sabbatical from work…she got to go to New Orleans, all over Florida, Costa Rica and Rio de Janeiro with us! She would have never seen these places otherwise :) She did share a room with our 2.5 year old (who was sleeping on the floor in a toddler bed) at night but did have plenty of privacy. She worked and we were able to go out at night on this extended trip. We gave her time off to do some great activities that she paid for but we paid for everything else (hang gliding, zip lining, swimming with dolphins!). Au Pair #3 went with us to the in laws for Christmas…she spent most of the time making us miserable. I gave her the choice, and didn’t really want to leave her home alone for the holidays. But she made my vacation much worse! Au Pair #4 was taken on two driving vacations to VRBO houses last year, she had her own room and bathroom in both places. We had her work some of the time…but such a bummer that au pairs chose to stay in their room with the computer instead of exploring a new place or enjoying the sunshine. With that in mind, on our most recent trip…au pair stayed home. My new philosophy – I must really need the au pair to work before taking her with us on a trip. Feeling responsible for ‘miserable’ au pairs when I am on vacation just sucks. For what its worth, I was an exchange student in high school and lived abroad from age 21 – 26. I don’t ever remember wanting to stay in my room while traveling. Ha!

DCMomof3 April 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Yes, I agree with Texas5TimeHostMom’s new philosophy. I’ve done every kind of travel you can imagine with au pairs – vacation, in-laws visits, work trips, au pair in her own room, au pair in shared room with whole family, with just me, with kids, au pair in bed with a kid (or 2). Its mostly worked fine, even great, but I am also feeling like its just not worth the stress to me to bring someone whose happiness I have to be responsible for. It seems like the au pairs for the most part want to come with us or expect to come with us and are disappointed when we don’t bring them with us, but then its just another person to mesh into the whole dynamic. I guess as with everything, it depends on the au pair, but I’ve had a few incidents where an au pair’s behavior really surprised me on vacation. I’ve since become very direct.
“No, you cannot tell the waiter to come back because you’ve not had enough time to decide, the kids are hungry and we are ordering now.”
“You need to get off of my parents’ computer, you cannot spend an hour on chat when they want to be in this room.”
“I need you to stop texting and go watch the kids in the water park.”
Since adopting my direct approach, I’ve been more happy on trips with the au pairs because I am not siting there silently annoyed at their behavior. Maybe its just hosting fatigue, but even though I do often want to show au pairs new places, I am feeling more and more like its not really worth it unless I actually need the au pair to work. Travel seems to come laden with expectations and pre-conceived notions about how things will be, but the fact of the matter is that traveling in my family with 3 kids and an often grumpy husband is not necessarily going to be a super-fun time. I have enough trouble keeping my own family from melting down, complaining, whining, etc. and its easier for me to just go w/o the AP than to also have to consider the fact that she doesn’t have as much privacy and comfort as she has at our house which is leading to her own vacation disappointment.

NewAPMom April 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm

+1 totally agree with you here! If I’m paying for the AP to go away with us it’s because she’s working.

Rosy April 29, 2015 at 4:19 pm

And what abouth the ‘we want you to join to our family’ thing?

NoVA Twin Mom April 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

The years we’ve had good au pairs have been the years we’ve taken big vacations. Coincidence? Not so much. The year we had a not-so-engaged au pair we took a not-so-exciting partially-working-for-her vacation where she was not quite engaged (as in, she was supposed to be watching a toddler while I got the rental car, then I saw the toddler dart out of the rental car area into the garage and had to get out of line and retrieve the toddler from the garage, realizing that au pair was making an important Facebook update instead of watching toddler) and there were no spectacular vacations while she was our au pair.

So – au pairs reading along – be warned. :)

I’m one of the host moms that IS willing to bring an au pair along on an all expenses paid vacation to Disney.

If I take you on a boring vacation and you tune out? It might have been a “test trip.”

If you go on a boring trip and are a great help? There might be something exciting coming up that we haven’t told you about. We might not have anything planned, we can’t take a great, exciting trip every year. But you never know. It certainly doesn’t hurt to work to find something interesting wherever you go. We have two smaller trips planned before our planned Disney trip, though. If our not-yet-matched au pair turns out not to be any help on vacations (or just grumpy or more work to take along than to leave home) I’ll leave her home. I’m already leaving Host Dad home, because he’s no fun at Disney. :)

5kids=Aupair April 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Host dad is no fun at Disney, lol! Amen!

NoVA Twin Mom April 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Host Dad wishes that I clarify that statement. :) Host Dad does not think vacations should involve getting up early to arrive at theme parks when they open, or that extensive planning or research should be necessary in advance. Host Dad prefers vacations that can be spontaneous.

My research and experience indicate that if we want to go on more than one ride during the day *at Disney parks*, extensive planning and research – not to mention arrival at theme park opening time – are necessary, and that spontaneity may be possible during carefully scheduled times later in the day, or during vacations *at different locations*. But that since 2-3 hour lines should be avoided with preschoolers in general but ours in particular, planning is necessary.

Thus the tentative plan to bring the au pair and allow Host Dad to take a staycation instead.

HRHM April 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

LOL. In my family, HD sleeps in and meets us at the park du jour for lunch. We are all much happier since starting this tradition. APs vary between sleeping in as well (totally don’t understand this!) to going with me at the crack of dawn (these are usually the APs who’s personality meshes more with mine LOL)

TexasHM April 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Lol HD is theme park enthusiast (as are the kids now) and I warn the APs that theme parks with us equal early mornings, reservations 15k steps plus a day and extensive touring plans and HD will likely be first up pouncing on everyone to go. To each his own! Once they saw the midday lines for everything they all came back and said it was worth the early rise and we always take a nap break in the afternoon and head back just before dinner rejuvenated, makes a huge difference.

Again, all about expectation setting. We tell the APs things like “we are going to visit family in X city, you’d have to share a room with x kid, we would chill for a week on the beach and it’s pretty far from any major city and no real nightlife so you’d probably want to bring books or be prepared to lay out for days or you’re welcome to skip it, your choice no worries either way”. I email them pictures (vrbo), addresses and maps of the area and let them know when we need an answer by.

I like the idea of a test trip (even though we haven’t had an issue in years knock on wood). After reading that I realized we have done that (unknowingly) with the last 3 APs and it was a good indicator and did help give us ideas for what would be best for future trips. And thinking about all the vacation sob stories I’ve heard from APs ALL were due to improper expectations. Often times it was HPs talking up the trip only to have the AP work 60 hours that week and bunk with kids while HPs slept alone and AP couldn’t get out or really experience anything. Just like when we are interviewing, when talking about trips I always play things down (although at some point all our APs figure out I do that) so that expectations are always exceeded and have found that to be a really effective strategy because honestly if they are on the fence about the trip I’d rather they skip it!

HostDadinNJ April 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm

The situation really depends on your specific relationship with your Au Pair. We are doing Disney and all 6 of us (3 kids, AP and host parents) are staying in an Art of Animation suite where everyone will be sharing a bed with someone. That is life. Now, we happen to have the most amazing Au Pair of all 6 that we have had, which makes it easier, but from the AP Standpoint, she is getting a week in Disney all paid for (I disagree with inviting them, whether to work or not, and expecting them to spend a months pay on the trip as a previous poster has done). Yes she will work during the trip, but this Au Pair is so much a part of our family that I know it will be fine. We offered her a couple days off in November when we decided to spend a few days warming up in Florida and she without hesitation said she would rather come. She is joining us for our annual drive (20 hours) to South Florida this coming Xmas after staying back her first year. Mind you, this is a young woman with plenty of AP friends locally, but she appreciates and values the travel, ability to see new places, etc, and if it means sharing a bed with a 3.5 year old for a few days, what is the big deal. If I had an Au Pair insisting on a separate room she would not be accompanying us on any trips – that being said, an Au Pair that did that is likely one who I would not want joining us anyway.

Emerald City HM April 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

We try to give an au pair as much privacy as possible. We have done separate hotel rooms and we’ve done the 1-bedroom suite. When we get a 1-bedroom suite, the kids room with us instead of the au pair, but our kids fall asleep way later than our au pairs do.

I’m starting to prefer the option of the separate hotel room, VBRO, or 2-bedroom suite, that way I don’t feel like the kids disturb the au pair quite as much.

When we stay with family, it tends to be pretty easy to get them a spare bedroom with some family members. But that also means we don’t take them on trips when we go to visit other family members because it’s just too inconvienent. For example while my dad’s house technically has enough bedrooms, there is only 1 bathroom. So 5 adults and 2 children isn’t really an ideal situation for that, yes it’s just one extra adult, but still.

NewAPMom April 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm

We took our AP with us to an AI resort this year with our baby and 3 year old. We expected her to work and gave her a schedule. She had her own room and bathroom. The problem was she had some friends and family at the same resort, and so whenever she was off she would disappear with them, and then expect us to go get her if they had gone out or drive them somewhere. It got old really fast, and she didn’t spend much time with us as a family. It was frustrating and I regretted taking her. I felt taken advantage of. She kept asking if she could have whole afternoons off so she could do things with her friends. I think she forgot it was our vacation, and work for her. I had to remind her that all of her same chores at home applied on vacation (washing cups, bottles, picking up after the kids, etc). By the end of the week I had her staying in the room during naptime so my husband and I could enjoy the beach. She was getting way more “vacation” time than we were, and I was getting annoyed.

We are planning vacations for next year and I was reconsidering bringing an AP. My husband wants to bring her (it will be a new AP). We are planning on a rental so we can always buy her plane ticket later if we decide we are definitely bringing her. I figure I will be more strict with the schedule and expectations. I am hoping the new AP will have a little different attitude than our current one.
Maybe I am mean, but I would certainly never pay for the AP to take a “vacation” with us and not work. We usually fly somewhere and have nice accommodations, plus I think our current AP who hasn’t appreciated these things has probably spoiled it a bit for future APs.

HRHM April 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm

I will say, after 7 APs, try not to let the bad apple spoil it for everyone going forward. We’ve taken all but 1 of our APs on vacation with us at least once (usually WDW). Most are pleasant to have along, thankful for the experience, helpful with the kids, don’t complain or act up. When it goes well, it’s a wonderful bonding experience for all involved.

We always go in September and I make the invitation conditional on their performance/behavior up to a point but since they arrive in July, my data is limited. I do ask them to buy their own plane ticket (they aren’t working and it chaps my but to pay them their stipend and then pay 1200 for their vacation as well!) and they share a room with the DDs (who are grade schoolers). With our current AP, she has been on multiple trips with us (in 7 months) and we LOVE having her along. She is fun with the kids, finds joy in every moment and makes us all laugh. Not all have been THIS great to have along, but only one (my first too!) made me regret having invited her.

NewbieHM April 10, 2015 at 2:37 pm

We are taking our AP to a rental house on FL next winter where she will have her own room. We are also planning on going to Bahamas but DH doesn’t think is worth bringing her. Spending more than $1000 on a separate hotel room plus meals, snacks, activities for only a few hours of work at night doesn’t seem like a good deal to him. If we had to stay in a hotel I would definitely have her share a room with some of our kids (we have 3) even if she is working but I would give her the option to not go. If she decided not to go then she has to use her vacation time.

By the way I heard of a HF whose AP was tuning out on a vacation and not being helpful. They changed her plane tickets and had her return home early. It seems harsh but at the same time she was ruining their vacation.

Didi April 10, 2015 at 3:46 pm

I traveled with family as family member and as part of my job (working way more than 10 h a day) and each time I shared a room with older girl.

I understand it is not ideal, and it was bad to be extra quiet after 8 pm and be awaken at 6 am, but since I love to travel I took it as a new and great opportunity to visit new city.

It’s pretty pricey to make it ideal situation for au pair and to respect program, but if you talk to your au pair openly and you all have agreement what is to be expected and what not, it shouldn’t be a problem to share a room.
Isn’t it better to save on extra room and instead pay for her breakfast, or help out with buying some souvenir, etc..

It all comes to communication. I would be highly disappointed on my trips with family if I didn’t know what to expect and what is expected of me.

Host Mom in the City April 11, 2015 at 1:12 am

Like another poster above, we’ve taken our great au pairs on at least one great trip during the year. Made the mistake of taking my horrible au pair on a family beach week trip and she got even more detached, anti-social with everyone except her iPhone, and ungrateful. She was literally ruining my trip – sent her home a few days early on the bus because I couldn’t watch her pout and mope around the house obsessively texting any longer. I’m really not sure why she came (yes,
We always give the option – stay home with an extra week off or come on the trip and work one evening during the week so we can go out).

Honestly though, even my great au pairs were kind of a drag in trips. And mostly it’s because I know how much I’m spending to add them to the trip and so it bothers me when they’re cranky or looking bored or ignoring us and texting during meals. I know that’s probably not fair – anyone has some bad times during a week. I admit that. But it does bum me out to have someone looking bored hanging around and even just to have one more person to think about. I honestly don’t enjoy vacations as much when we bring our au pair.

It also adds considerably to the cost – extra plane ticket, extra adult to feed, three-bed rental instead of one or two-bed, larger rental car needed, etc. It can easily add almost $1,000. I personally agree that if it’s a come-if-you-want trip, then as long as you’re up-front about the accommodations, you don’t need to get a separate room for your au pair. We usually do a house on airbnb so we can get an extra room or a hotel suite (au pair on pull-out, kids and us in the bedroom).

I’ve heard au pairs complain that their host families don’t include them in their vacations and it makes them feel like not part of the family. I feel like, on the flip side, au pairs don’t really get and appreciate how expensive and frequently, burdensome, it is to take an au pair along and also that family vacations are sometimes pretty miserable even for the family – we’re going to so kid stuff,
We’re going to have to not do exactly what we want sometimes because the kids need a break, they’re going to be whiny and they’re going to wake up early,
Etc. Your host parents might not take you on their trip for a variety of reasons – costs, they know you’ll be bored to tears, or they just want to worry about themselves and not their au pair’s enjoyment too. If you do get invited, recognize the expense and say thank you. Not one of my three great au pairs has said thank you when we return from a trip, which always bothered me even though they were great on the trip.

Mimi April 11, 2015 at 9:05 am

HD has this amazing way of subtly sharing price and cost information with the APs. I’m not sure exactly how he does it, but it starts early on with conversations about the cost of living in different parts of the country (ours and theirs), what the APs should expect to set aside for travel, etc. They usually have a pretty good idea about extra costs for us to put them on our gym membership and insurance and to take them with us when we travel. We are big on manners in our house, too, and my kids will thank me for cooking and especially for a meal out so our APs always have a chance to chime in, especially on vacation.

Because Americans have fewer vacation time than most AP cultures, they may not realize the potential they have to ruin ours with subtle annoying behavior. I think its necessary to have the conversation about what is different for your family on vacation and how the AP can contribute to a successful family trip well in advance and to have a recap of that conversation if things aren’t going well. I like the idea someone wrote about with the mini test trip before the big vacation. If you know what to expect, you can talk about it beforehand. I also think that sending a party pooper home is an unfortunate necessity that sometimes needs to happen and some families need to have vacations that don’t include their AP. You have to know what works for your family and go boldly in that direction.

SKNY April 11, 2015 at 9:34 am

Well… Just to repeat myself on the thank you, even my best Au pairs were terrible at saying thank you.
If I ever have another one I will maybe add to my handbook something about modeling thankful to the kids

AlwaysHopeful HM April 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

Personally, I think thank yous are overrated. Both my fun vacation AP and my glum AP thanked me for the vactions, park tickets, meals out, etc. The difference was, the glum AP thanked me because it was the proper thing to do. The fun AP had fun! Example: each went to Disney. When we had character meals, I made sure to position child and AP for best character access. Fun AP giggled and enjoyed the characters like a little kid. I also havephotos capturing his delight in watching the characters interact with my son. Glum AP looked down at his plate and seemed annoyed by the whole experience. He took an obligatory photo with one character, but otherwise focused on getting through the meal. I would much rather take someone along (family member, AP, friend, etc.) who is going to immerse him/herself in the experience and find enjoyment in it for what it is and never say thank you than have a person thank me profusely for a trip he or she merely endured.

dcmomof3 April 11, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I have a section on gratitude in my handbook. It seems to work well at home and I like the fact that at least 1 person (my AP) thanks me for dinner each night! On vacation, not so much. I guess that the APs think that its just part of the vacation for us to pay for meals, tickets, etc. even when they come as part of the family. Sometimes I don’t mind, but sometimes it gets irritating when the AP won’t take the initiative and just buy herself an ice cream or coffee if she wants it. That said, on the flip side, I did have an AP once step out of the ticket line at Legoland and plunk down her own debit card for her own $85 admission because, she said, “I’m gonna have fun too.” Awesome. She still had at least 1 kid with her at all times and managed to do all the rides with said kid. She was also one of the best I had in terms of expressing gratitude for trips – even when she went with me on business or to visit family.

WarmStateMomma April 12, 2015 at 10:35 am

Our fIrst two APs never said thank you, but one expressed gratitude in a different way. Example: in Hawaii, she kept telling me the places we visited were too beautiful to be real and that she couldn’t believe she was there soaking it all in.

A April 15, 2015 at 5:47 pm

I’m a current au pair and I have never say thank you after a WORK trip. I have never hear of anyone (in any job) that after a WORK trip calls her/his boss and say: thank you for the work trip! That doesn’t have any sense! I’m working, so I’m not doing a favor to my HP. And they aren’t doing my a favor either by buying me a ticket or paying my accommodation.

Gretchen April 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm

I have said “thank you” to my bosses for work trips on plenty of occasions. Thank you for allowing me to attend a training session that helped me further my education and abilities; thank you for allowing me to use work time instead of vacation time; thank you for paying for my flight and my hotel and my food during the trip; thank you for encouraging me to develop my skills and become better at my job; thank you for allowing me to attend national level conferences and present papers that made me known as an expert in my field; thank you for for all of this, even knowing as you did so that it would likely make me more visible and attractive to recruiters and may well lead to me finding another job. But while I am still with you, you have my gratitude, my loyalty and I will do my absolute best to make our organization the very best organization it can possibly be. And even after I leave for a higher level job for more money, I will continue to maintain a good relationship with you that will help both sides well into the future.

My co-workers who decided not to say thank you because it was a WORK trip didn’t receive many opportunities to go on WORK trips. They didn’t understand how much the WORK trips helped them in their career. To them, it was just WORK. And that, my young au pair friend, makes all the difference in the world.

When we travel with our au pairs we call it a “working vacation,” which means they do not need to use any of their vacation time or pay for anything that we do as a family. They receive plenty of time to do things on their own if they wish, although usually they want to stay with us instead of spend time alone. We are fortunate to be able to afford to pay for them and do it gladly to further their experiences during their au pair year. They typical “work” on and off during the day alongside my husband and I. Doing what any reasonable, responsible adult does when traveling with family — helping out where they can to make the trip easier and more fun for everyone. We are not leaving them alone in a hotel room with the children while we are gallivanting about on our own. We do things all together as a family. We have great vacations, traveling to amazing places and staying in wonderful resorts. Everyone “working” together is what it makes fun. Someone who comes on vacation with us as a “favor” to us is welcome to just stay at home. The one au pair we had who had that attitude towards our family was sent into rematch shortly after we returned home from one of our family trips. All others truly became members of our family and all have visited at least once since they returned to their homes. (In one case we paid for her plane ticket to come back and visit because she came from a family with lesser means.) They know they will always be welcome in our home without our issuing an invitation. Because they are FAMILY. Not just EMPLOYEES.

exaupair April 18, 2015 at 11:58 am

Gretchen, but what you have in mind are serious, meaningful jobs.

With all respect, au pairing is a ‘gap-year thing’. It is very unlikely that an au pair year will open every possible door for you, unless you specifically want to work in childcare. Even then, going for a working trip with your host family CAN’T be compared to being sent to a national level conference. Please, don’t add more value and substance to what a weekend trip with host parents and kids actually is.

When I was an AP i went on one, literally one ‘working holiday’ with the HF. Yes, I made sure I’m not working more than I’m actually being paid for, I also made sure my own room meets the standards I’m used to, I said thank you just like I always do – because this is how I was raised, but I would never let the HPs be under no illusion that I’m in any way grateful for taking me.
On a holiday where everyone goes to have a good time it could have been a different story.

A/B HostMom April 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Can you exaupairs explain to be what you mean by a “working holiday?” Because if my future au pair is not going to be grateful for a trip to Florida or the Caribbean where we will ask to work (basically as another set of hands), then I’m going to think twice about bringing her.

UKAu Pair April 19, 2015 at 3:49 am

A/B HostMom I think what you’re intending (a holiday where the au pair will help out and possibly do some babysitting but will also- presumably- not work more than 45 hours and will have at least some time to herself) sound lovely, and if you’ve clearly communicated to your au pair your expectations and her options if she doesn’t want to go, then she should be grateful if she ends up going.

I don’t know about exaupair, but some families take their au pair on holiday with them purely as an employee, because that’s what she’s paid for. For example, I’m au pairing in France this summer for 6 weeks, and for half that time the family will be on holiday. They need an au pair specifically while they’re on holiday to provide childcare for 3-6 hours a day. In this situation, although I will (obviously) say thank you and be grateful to them for the language opportunities they’re providing, the holiday itself isn’t something I feel a particular need to be grateful for. I’m there to work- that’s why they hired me. If they didn’t have an au pair they couldn’t go on holiday. In this situation, it’s not as if I’m staying with them for a year and happen to be accompanying them on holiday. I’m literally only going to be employed for their holiday.

I think au pairs probably view holidays and ‘working holidays’ differently (exaupair seems to have much firmer views than I do) so the best thing to do is to talk honestly to your future au pair and lay out exactly what you’d like from her.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 19, 2015 at 8:50 am

Personally, I think telling an AP that you’re taking her vacation/holiday with you is a misnomer. You’re going on a trip – and you either ask or demand that your AP coming along. She will be working. You must make it clear what type of accommodations you will be providing for her, how much she will be expected to pay toward the trip, and whether or not you will count any days toward her vacation time, if she may use vacation time in order to spend a day not providing you with childcare, if she may invite a friend to come along, and whether you will give her a day off and not count it against her vacation.

The minute you use vacation/holiday, then the AP will recall the family trips she took as a child with her own family or the adventures she had with a bunch of friends her own age as a young adult. Unless she worked as a counselor in a summer camp, then she will have no background to judge her new role – no matter how long she’s been working as an AP in your home.

I don’t know about you all, but as the mother of a child with special needs, trips are stressful for me – I don’t have an adult sized changing table for the Camel, her positioning chair with a tray for easy meal feeding, and trying to find enough foods she is able to eat in a restaurant can be challenging (no quick trips to McDonalds for us – she can’t chew anything they serve!). Having an AP along relieves some of the stress – it allows me to do other things while she feeds the Camel, and gives me enough energy to enjoy exploring our new location or do an activity with the other children.

We have two types of travel – an adventure with grandparents which involves some nice restaurants, touring, adventure parks, and nice hotels. We expect gratitude from the AP for being including on these trips because they cost us over a thousand dollars and are in destination venues. APs have been permitted to bring friends to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Colonial Williamsburg and nearby adventure parks, and stay in hotel rooms with a friend or by themselves. Our other type of trip is the trip to visit relatives or friends and involves staying in a house. We go out of our way to give an AP a room to herself (or to sleep in a room with a door with the Camel while DH and I sleep on the floor in a living room). It may or may not be near a destination location. We don’t expect gratitude, but it does give the AP insight into being a member of our family. Some have enjoyed it and gone out of their way to be family members, others have isolated themselves and pouted. The latter don’t get invited on a family trip again, but they also lose out on some of the activities of being a member during the course of their year.

exaupair April 19, 2015 at 9:09 am

A/B HostMom, my definition of ‘working holiday’ would be a trip where I go with the host family and either work my full shift a part of my shift. When the HF need their AP to go along and do their job it’s always a ‘working holiday’. They’re doing the job they are being paid for, where’s the pale for gratitude here?

Another thing, if there’s a family holiday I can’t opt out of for whatever reason, it means I’m needed there, which makes it a ‘working holiday’.

NewAPMom April 19, 2015 at 9:26 am

Exaupair–a lot of families take the AP on vacation for 2 reasons: 1. they would like the help of the AP and 2. they would like the AP to be able to travel to these places and feel included. If you are saying that because you are working you would never say thank you or be grateful, then you can’t complain if a family never wants to take you anywhere. Do you not say thank you either if the HP cook you dinner because that’s expected? I’m just curious. I have to say that I it irritates me when my AP doesn’t say thank you for dinner (but my husband does!) because I am under no obligation to cook for her, just provide her with food. I wouldn’t cook dinner every night if we didn’t have an AP. We HP work very hard, and it costs us a lot more to bring an AP and trust me, would be far cheaper and easier to bring another family member or use a baby sitting service. Anyway, my point being is that even though it may be a “working holiday” presumably you would have free time and get to see things you wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. HP don’t need to invite you along, so if they choose to take you someplace nice, a little thanks would go a long way in the relationship.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 19, 2015 at 9:52 am

I have to say, I don’t really understand the debate here. Unless you hate your job (which is a whole separate issue) how can you not feel at least a little bit happy and grateful about doing it in a better, more beautiful or exciting location? Yes, there are some inconveniences on a vacation, but given a choice, isn’t it infinitely more pleasurable to watch a screaming toddler while waves crash in the background than watch that same screaming toddler to the same neighborhood park you visit every day?

I no longer travel for work, but when I did, I didn’t much care about the work part of it– in fact, looking back, I can barely recall the work reason I was in most places. For me, work was the cost of getting to visit these fun places. (and honestly, I don’t really like to travel) Montreal – wow! Denver- so much fun! Los Angeles – exciting! NY– let’s catch a show! And so on. Getting to experience these new and exciting places on someone else’s dime made the mundane fun and inconveniences tolerable, and I was very, very grateful. Sure, it would be even better if my job just furnished an expenses paid trip to these destinations and required nothing from me at all, but why on earth would they do that??

NewbieHM April 19, 2015 at 1:06 pm

“I would never let the HPs be under no illusion that I’m in any way grateful for taking me.”
I guess that explains why you only went to one trip.

NewbieHM April 19, 2015 at 1:19 pm

UKaupair. I understand that you are there to work. But even if it’s only a few weeks you will probably have the opportunity to travel and enjoy some areas during your “working holiday”. After all, you say you will be working 3-6 hours and that leaves plenty of time to enjoy other things. Also, remember that even though they need an au pair to go on a holiday, they don’t need you particularly. They could easily give that chance to someone else who would appreciate the opportunity a lot more.

I wish an essay on this topic was included in the AP’s applications. I would make screening a little bit easier.

UKAu Pair April 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm

NewbieHM I do understand your point, and I am/will be grateful for the things that come alongside the holiday- accommodation, food, the chance to see new things- and I’ll make it very clear to my HP that I appreciate it. But simply being with them in a different part of France isn’t something that I’m especially ‘grateful’ for- it would be much easier (and probably cheaper) for me to visit by myself if it was an area I particularly wanted to go to.

I think this does differ in the US, and I would approach it differently if I were APing there, but this won’t be a holiday for me, I’m not expecting it to be a holiday (ADHD teenagers!) and if I do get some time alone I’ll be even more grateful for it because I’m not expecting any.

NewAPMom April 17, 2015 at 9:02 pm

I think it really depends on what the “work” trip is. We took our AP to the Caribbean this year, and yes she “worked” often 8 hours a day, but by work I mean basically being an extra set of hands at meal times, by the pool/beach, sometimes watched the kids at naptime, and a couple times watched them so we could go out to dinner. In reality while she was “working” it was really more of a vacation for her than it was for us. She ended up having tons of free time and had a nice vacation that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. She did say thank you, and I can tell you that if she didn’t I would have been outraged. Now if your HP are taking you on a “work” trip to someplace not fun at all, then that’s a different story. Would you really rather stay home than go “work” at a nice resort in the Caribbean or Mexico? If they are taking you someplace nice, I would recommend that you do say thank you because otherwise it would probably be a lot easier for them to just use a babysitting service there than pay for you to come.

A April 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Well new AP mom and Gretchen. You sound like great HM.
In my case, I’m so glad I don’t have another opportunity to have a work trip with the family.
I had to work more than 45 hours, staying in the apartment/house with the kids while the host parents go out and have fun during day and night. And the worst part: WITHOUT food! (I’m taking care of two babies and by that time, I only fed them with formula).
In one of the trips we were in Chicago and we were staying in an apartment with a 7/11 2 or 3 blocks away. I had to bought my food even when that’s not supposed to be my responsibility.
In the other one, we were at Santa Barbara in the middle of nowhere. Again, taking care of the babies 24/7, with not food for me. This time, I couldn’t bought my food. And also I have a day off but I had to spend it in the house since I didn’t has access to any transportation.

Let’s clarify: it wasn’t my first time in Chicago, and it wasn’t my first time in Santa Barbara. So it wasn’t an opportunity for me at all. Been under this circumstances is not going to help me in anyway, so no, in my case a work trip doesn’t deserve a thank you.

Gretchen April 17, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Why didn’t you get help from your local area counselor or ask for a rematch? That is clearly against the rules and spirit of the program!

Host Mom in the City April 20, 2015 at 7:42 am

I think I started this saying thank you thing, so I should clarify what I meant. As usual, there are many gray areas between taking an au pair purely on vacation out of the goodness of your heart and taking an au pair solely because you are requiring her to work 45 hours a week.

When we take au pairs on vacation with us (and we only do with the ones we think will be mature enough to handle it after spending a week dragging around a pouting, eye rolling au pair at the beach), we pay for everything and in exchange ask our au pairs to work one or two evenings a week so we can have a date night. The last two trips we went on, this involved staying in the hotel with already sleeping children so we could go to a restaurant around the corner. We even get an airplane seat in an extra section of the plane, and encourage them to go out on their own during the week if they want. We do make sure it’s clear that when kids are along, it’s a family trip rather than a relaxing vacation, so when the kids run out of steam, we welcome our au pairs to keep going and having fun without us, but that the kids take precedence for what we’re doing.

All in all, it can cost $1,000 extra to take our au pair along. It’s also stressful because it adds an extra person to worry about it. We do it because we adore our au pairs (the ones we’ve taken on trips that is) and want to share a family trip with them. We give them the option – come with us and here’s what will happen, or get an extra week of vacation.

With this context, yes, it goes a long, long way to be thanked.

I agree, I suppose, that if your family is purely taking you along, not because they want to share the experience with you, but because they require you to come and plan to leave you with the kids for 45 hours that week while they’re off vacationing, then you shouldn’t feel required to say thank you. But I think I’ve yet to hear anyone on this thread that has had that kind of trip with their au pair.

NewAPMom April 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

Question here–we are thinking of planning a trip to the Caribbean next winter and the set up is a 2 BR villa, basically 1 king bed, a living room, and a 2nd bedroom with 2 double beds. HD wants to take the AP (will be a new AP who hasn’t arrived yet). We have a 3 y/o and 1 y/o. I was thinking of putting the 1 y/o in our room, and can put the 3 y/o and AP in the 2nd bedroom? There’s a sofa bed too. If she shared a room with my 3 y/o there’s still the living room for us all to unwind in. Otherwise I’m not sure where to put her. I think it’s stupid for us to all stuff into the master bedroom and she’s in the bedroom with 2 beds alone.

CoffeeCapitolHM April 11, 2015 at 5:08 pm

This sounds very reasonable to me, if the AP is not working. Sure, a couple hours here or there, or maybe a night in while the kids are sleeping so you can go out. But a 40 hour work week? Then they need their own room. Also, talk about this before you book/go.

exaupair April 12, 2015 at 4:30 am

A couple of hours here and there or evening with kids IS working.
To everyone, who think it is not and therefor the AP can get a substandard accommodation – think about taking a teen cousin, neighbor or your kids friend (if old enough) instead. They will happily babysit for a couple of evenings, or take the children somewhere so that you can rest during the day and will be grateful for the trip even though they share a bedroom or even a bed with someone else. Also, cruise ships and ski resorts usually provide ‘in-house’ childcare, having a childminder for few hours every day is always a lot cheaper than taking an additional person along.

Skny April 12, 2015 at 9:18 am


NewbieHM April 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

That’s why I wouldn’t bring an AP on vacation unless she is working. If she was vacationing and I was footing the bill I would feel entitled to ask her a few hours here and there so I can have a nice quiet dinner with DH. I would feel this way if a was bringing my sister, my mother or anybody else along and footing the bill. On the other hand, I’m sure the AP would feel entitled to have a nice vacation with all expenses paid without watching my kids for a couple of hours even though I’m paying a lot of money for her to come with us.
Is funny that when AP travels with their friends they stay in the cheapest places and even share beds with other people. But when the HF is paying then is unacceptable to sleep in the sleeper sofa or share a bedroom with a child.

TexasHM April 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

So see that’s why we go the opposite way. Instead of saying we won’t take an AP unless she is working (because you are footing the bill), we say we will take an AP but she won’t work at all (and they chip in for their expenses). I agree that babysitting even just one night for a few hours on the trip is working, period. At first we took the AP, they didn’t work and we paid for everything and I found myself stressing about if they were having a good time, seeing enough and frustrated that we footed all the bills and it seemed to be expected. After that first trip we said no more – they can come (and we love them to come) but we have to draw a clear line and say if you come here are the details and you are coming along as another adult family member.

As such, if my niece or mom came along on a family trip with us and it was their decision to go I would not be paying for their Disney tickets, plane tickets, etc but would likely cover things like the condo, minivan, gas and meals at home and this is exactly what we do with our APs. It’s not because we don’t love them or want to nickel and dime them. It’s because it’s completely their choice to go, we often do much bigger trips and we would have to do fewer trips per year if we had to foot the bill for another full adult on everything. This eliminates all frustration for us because I am no longer worrying about her the whole time. She can be with us as little or much as she wants, can do what we do or something else, we can do whatever we want with sleeping arrangements and if she wants to do more it’s on her dime. It’s all about perspective. Some other HPs think we should just pay for it all but these are the same HPs that work the APs the entire week to the maximum AND have the AP sleep with the kids while the HPs are in their own room alone so our APs have always made it clear they much prefer our arrangement. More often than not, they have their own room on our trips and I don’t know what could be more “on par” than treating the AP like another adult in giving them the info, option to go and having them cover their big expenses. Make no mistake – we still foot a chunk of their expenses on these trips (they aren’t paying for lodging, car rental, gas, family meals, etc) and it’s not cheap. But since we started doing it this way they seem to REALLY appreciate that too I think because we help them create a budget for everything and then we cover as much as we can so they get an awesome trip and come home with money leftover. Kind of like the previous thread on living expenses, they don’t know if you don’t tell them. Watching us plan and budget a trip they fully realize at the end that they are getting a $2400 trip for $800 with us for example. And they realize how much it costs for us (HF of 5) to vacation with or without them and it brings a new awareness/appreciation of the situation I think. This is probably why our APs come back raving about the trips, thanking us 100 times over, plastering FB with photos and many of their friends come back from trips in tears.

exaupair April 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

I’m sorry but sharing a bed with a boyfriend/ girlfriend is not the same as sharing a bed with somebody else’s toddler.

exaupair April 12, 2015 at 3:32 pm

TexasHM, your attitude is great and I really like the way you approach all the family holidays arrangements. Some people probably don’t realize the value of money as long as they don’t have to spend a penny of their own.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm

TexasHM, I hope you don’t feel the need to defend your family’s vacation approach. It makes you happy, it makes your au pairs happy, and it’s well within the program’s rules. What’s to defend?

I’m personally too much of a control freak to take that approach — I need to pay for everyone so I feel no guilt scheduling every part of our trip! We dont get a lot of vacations, and I put a lot of energy into planning the ones we do get to make them special. It would bother me if our AP didn’t do one of the activities because it cost too much, for example. But, that’s my own insanity! I don’t try to defend that, either. ????

NewbieHM April 12, 2015 at 6:31 pm

TexasHM, I don’t think that arrangement is unfair at all. Like you said, that’s the way it works with other adults. We are supposed to treat Au Pairs like a member of the family not another kid in the family. However, it would make me uncomfortable to ask our AP to pitch in knowing how much she makes but that’s just a personal issue.

Au Pair in France April 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm

I’d disagree here, I’d much rather be invited and told I would need to work a few hours if I wanted to come, than not offered the chance to go on a trip that I really wanted to go on. I went away with my HF for a weeks skiing holiday, shared a room with one of my host kids and had to look after the kids for one afternoon and a few other hours. So I was sharing a room and working a bit, but I really wanted to go (I’d never been skiing before and always wanted to try it), so the chance to start learning to ski more than made up for having to share a room and work a few hours. As long as you make it clear what you want, and give your AP the choice of going, I don’t see that there’s any problem.

NewbieHM April 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Ex aupair, If you read my coment it says sharing a bedroom with a toddler, not a bed. Most hotels provide a crib if you ask.

WarmStateMomma April 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm

I agree with you, AP in France. There is nothing wrong with offering someone an option. If the AP is mature enough to come to a new country and care for young children, she is mature enough to decide if the option makes sense for her.

We hadn’t planned on traveling much this year because the kids are so demanding (3mo and 2yrs), but our new AP just makes life so much easier by pitching in all the time. We are all going to travel more than I’d thought this year if she keeps it up. :)

NewbieHM April 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Au pair in France, I agree. The way I see it asking them to stay with the kids a couple of nights for 2-3 hours during a vacation after we put them in bed seems to me like a small price to pay for an all expenses paid trip, and yes sharing a room with one of the kids. If they were going to pay for it they would have to work hundreds of hours.

DCMomof3 April 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Texas HM, you’ve given me a good idea for this summer. We’ve already told our AP that she will get an extra 2 weeks off when we go on our family vacation out of the country. Now, my sister-in-law who has no kids wants to take a week off from work to take my kids on an outdoor adventure in Northern Arizona where she lives. HD and I can both telecommute, so we are thinking that we will just fly out there and work from her house while she and her husband do a whitewater rafting/camping trip in the Grand Canyon with the kids. That way, we can see them, but not burn up our vacation time (plus, after having 3 children in 4 years, I have 0 ability to sleep anywhere that is not within 10 feet of an actual bathroom). I am sure that AP will want to go to Arizona when she hears that we are going. We’ve brought other APs there in past years and they’ve all raved about it since it always includes treks around Sedona, Grand Canyon, etc. plus tons of crazy fun outings, campfires, horeseback riding etc. with hippie sister-in-law’s hippie friends. However, I really have no need for our AP to go on this trip this year. Maybe if I tell AP she can pay for her ticket and crash on sister-in-law’s couch and trek around AZ for a week, she will not feel left out. On the other hand, I worry that she will feel that we are just being cheap and unfair. Its kind of an unexpected expense for us this summer since we already bought plane tickets for our “real” vacation. However, sister-in-law’s offer is going to be really cool for the kids and probably will cost us about the same as sending all 3 of them to sleep-away camp for a week. Plus, we love to see them so we want to go out there.

TexasHM April 13, 2015 at 8:55 am

DCmomof3 this is exactly the kind of situation in which we would do that (ask them to chip in for their expenses). If she isn’t working but wants to have what sounds like an awesome additional travel week then more than likely a plane ticket won’t be a big deal to her. I completely relate (worrying they might think you are being cheap or unfair) but as long as you are honest (wasn’t planning the trip, already not in the budget, you and HD are working because you can’t take off) I don’t see how any reasonable person could think you are being cheap or unfair.

AlwaysHopeful thanks for the level set, I am sure I am hypersensitive because there are a lot of assumptions made about us due to the way we handle big trips (that we are cheap or taking advantage somehow) because other APs and HFs don’t know the details so I tend to feel the need to completely explain so people don’t get the wrong idea. :) As far as them skipping something because it’s too expensive I have yet to have that happen honestly and I thought a few times it might (swimming with dolphins for example). I wheel and deal to get discounts on everything and we cover most of the incidentals – that makes a big difference overall so when an AP does get to check her dream trip off her list for a fraction of what it would have cost any other way I don’t lose any sleep comparing it to what they make, instead I see the generally higher amount that we covered and/or saved them in the process. I am a bit of a control freak myself so usually everything is paid for before we leave on the trip (except incidentals for the most part) so while we are on the trip we don’t have to worry about splitting tabs or anything and if something unexpected pops up (shopping for example) they whip out their card.

We do probably travel more than most HFs (generalization based on comparison to other HFs here) so that plays into it as well. I travel for work so often use miles or points which buys us a lot more flexibility and options. Having parents in Florida that give us their house helps too. :) Based on our current historical we have been taking two big trips per year (at least a week, generally 10-11 days building in two weekends) plus at least 2 long weekend/holiday trips per year (3-5 days), plus at least two weekend trips (2 days). Maybe that is also part of why I don’t feel bad asking them to pick up a plane ticket on the bigger trips because we do cover so many other trips during the year (vs our only trip being a trip we already planned ourselves to Disney and needing the AP to work = very different scenario).

dcmomof3 April 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm

I would just tell her that you would love to bring her, but it will mean sharing a room with the 3 y/o. See how she reacts. I’ve personally never really gone over sleeping arrangements before hand with an AP – usually because I don’t know exactly what they are going to be. I like to scope out the place once we get there and see what’s going to work best for everybody. Then I dole out the sleeping arrangements in a very non-democratic process! We’ve rarely had the AP in her own room and its always been fine. As far as I am concerned, for a member of the family who is also there to help out (rarely working a full week when vacationing with us) can sleep wherever the rest of the family is sleeping. If its a family trip, I will designate a day where I think the AP should go out on her own and do what she wants to do without us there. Some have taken us up on this quite fully and others have sulked in the room because they didn’t want to be alone.
When it is one of my work trips where the AP has come but had to work a full day watching the kids, she still doesn’t get her own room, but I do try to be respectful of her privacy to the extent I am able. For example, I will either take the kids down to the hotel pool in the evening and tell her she can have a few hours in the room by herself to shower, change, etc. Or, if I have my car there, I will give her my car and directions to the local mall so she can get away from us for a bit.

NewAPMom April 11, 2015 at 10:49 pm

She would be working, but by working I don’t mean watching the kids by herself all day while HD and I take off. It would be basically helping out at meal times, if we are by the pool or beach playing with the kids so HD and I could relax a little too, maybe a couple evenings out, and possibly watching the younger one at nap time. My 3 y/o is a good sleeper, so basically I was thinking could put him to bed in one of the double beds, and when she wants to go to bed then can sleep in the other. Our last vacation the AP had her own room with 2 double beds and the 3 y/o slept on a pull out bed in the living room. He only used the bed for sleeping, so we probably should have put him in her room and told her she can hang in the living room until she wants to go to bed. What ended up happening was she had her room, he had the living room, the baby was in our room, and we had no where to retreat to.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 12, 2015 at 1:02 am

I would recommend waiting to make the decision until you’ve had the au pair living in your home for a while. Then you’ll have a sense of whether it’s worth it to take her along.

A/B HostMom April 12, 2015 at 9:32 am

Oh yes, I’m not booking any tickets for her until she’s here and we are sure we want to bring her. It wouldn’t change the room type we get, just the sleeping arrangements if she came.

Host Mom in the City April 20, 2015 at 7:53 am

I have to disagree – I don’t really get ever putting a child in with an au pair unless there seriously is no other option. I’m willing to be convinced and maybe it’s because I’m a total introvert, but I’m trying to imagine being a young adult in a strange place and I just really strongly feel that I would need a place that is truly my own at least for the nights to recharge. Having a child in the room, even a sleeping one, means that I really don’t have any space that’s my own. Yes, I get that parents don’t get time alone either, but they’re the parents.

What I would do in this scenario is take the room with the two double beds – DH and me, two kids in the other one. Then the au pair gets the king. Or take the king and put the 3yo on the sofa bed – presumably, he/she is up early anyway and can nap in the king room if necessary. Either of those scenarios would be preferable to me.

TexasHM April 11, 2015 at 9:29 am

So, something I am noticing in the tone of several of the responses here is actually what drove our current vacation/trip policies. We also felt like early on the APs didn’t have an appreciation for the free trips they were getting (not because they acted ungratefully, just because they didn’t know a lot of the sacrifices and expenses we took on and we didn’t want to bring every thing to their attention). We’ve never had them work on trips but I can easily see how the poster above said “the AP feels like she is doing us a favor and we feel like we are doing her a favor”.

There is a common theme of host parents being open to taking APs on vacation but having reservations around having to worry about entertaining the AP/making sure she has a good time and/or them appreciating the trip and/or them ruining the trip or having different expectations. All things we have grappled with over the years.

Someone already disagreed with our strategy above :) but let me highlight a couple of things about why we do it this way (aside from it’s driven by all the things that everyone has mentioned in this thread).

1. You have to be honest about what you can and can’t do as a family. Can I take my AP on a Thanksgiving weekend trip, stay at my parents house and cover everything even though she isn’t working on the trip? Sure. Can we change our vacation to include Disney (APs dream to visit, we had just gone year before and it was not in our plans), tacking on $5k+ to our vacation (family of 5 excluding AP) and pay for the APs ($800ish) of that as well? No. So we are honest with the AP about the options. We can go stay at parents house at no cost (but vacation time) or she can stay home or she can decide if her dream trip to Disney is worth $800 to her. Totally her decision. This isn’t us nickel and diming an AP. Anything they pay we are paying at least 5x as much for and everything is discussed in advance. We are very flexible (APs are family members so help plan the trips) but we are honest about what we can swing and what we can’t (and we talk about all of this in our handbook and during matching as well).

2. This also helps the AP know the value of the trip and appreciate it. Not because we need recognition, but because for many APs this is part of the learning process. They often have no idea how much things cost or what the options are so we include them in the planning. Then when they come home and another AP acts like they are nuts for vacationing with us our AP can rest easy knowing that if they tried to take the same trip she just did alone as APs it would cost likely 2-3x more and the accomodations wouldn’t be anywhere near as nice. (We also almost always do vrbo house or condo rentals and get the AP her own room. In fact any trip they pitch in on they have their own private room.)

3. I did used to worry because in 5 years we have only had an AP turn down one trip (she went to the same place year before with us) that we might be getting the better end of the deal (because the APs take at least some vacation to go on our week plus trips, not for long weekend or things like that) so I asked our AP at the time about it (using her two vacation weeks with us instead of friends) and she looked at me like I was crazy. She said that she got two 11 day trips (California and Florida) plus several bonus trips (Kansas City, San Antonio, camping trip, etc) and we had still offered her a couple of Fridays off to try to make a long weekend trip to a destination she was trying to hit work so we were crazy to worry about her feeling like she didn’t get vacation or enough travel. My husband followed that up by pointing out that she is an adult, made her own decisions having all the info on every trip in advance and I should quit mothering. ;) It is what it is! Point being, we treat them like another adult in the household and if they decide their dream trip is worth $800 “a months pay” as another poster pointed out then that’s their decision and how is that any different than our one AP that took a different trip at the same time and spent over $2k on her own and hated the trip!

CoffeeCapitolHM April 11, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I agree with you 100% – and a lot of it depends on the host family situation. I am sure many AP’s get a huge house with private bathroom and all expense paid vacations. Can we do that? No way. We have an AP to save on child care costs (among other benefits). But, we do what we can, and I like to think that other things make up for it. As adults, we have to decide whether or not a vacation is important enough for us to spend a months salary on. We have to decide whether or not to go visit family, which is cheaper, or go do something exciting (we can’t do everything). These are life decisions, and the AP can make hers to. She can come with us on cheaper vacations, or decide to spend more for her own travel. Or she can decide to spend money to travel more exotic with us, or spend even more (double) to do the same vacation on her own/with friends. I don’t see how that can be unfair, when the decision is theirs. Travel is a perk, for everyone.

Gretchen April 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

We’ve never had an au pair share a room with our children and if we are lucky, we are able to provide a private bedroom for them. But that simply isn’t always a possibility. As a result, we have had them sleeping on the couch in a living area, ranging from a two-bedroom suite in a resort to a the couch in the separate living room in a family cabin on a cruise ship.

We always give them the choice of coming with us on vacation, after describing exactly where they would be sleeping, or stay at home and not get to visit wherever it is we are traveling. After 5 au pairs, we have never had one choose to stay home! One even said, “You’re going on a Caribbean cruise! I’d sleep in a deck chair. I don’t care!”

Gretchen April 11, 2015 at 11:34 pm

One thing further. It never even occurred to me to ask the au pair to pay for any part of a “Family Vacation.” If she is with us, we pay for it. If there is something extra special she wants to do during her downtime, then yes. She would pay for it. Otherwise, it’s a working vacation for her and we pay.

HRHM April 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

I think the key here is “it’s a working vacation for her and we pay”

In my family, it’s not a “working vacation for her” it’s just a vacation. We don’t ask her to get up early so we can sleep in, we don’t have her watch the kids while we go out for a romantic dinner, our kids are older so she’s not cutting their food or taking them to the toilet – you get the idea. She REALLY is on vacation with us. So I have no heartburn asking her to pay for her plane ticket. So far, AP hasn’t had any heartburn paying for it either. I do pay for all their food, their several hundred dollars in park tickets, the bigger rental car and the second hotel room. Overall, they still come out WAY ahead $$ wise.

Returning HM April 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I’m simply amazed how much you all seem to travel! We go away to our summer house for a month each summer, and our AP comes with us (and stays in the master suite in the house), but other than that, we hardly travel. We do go to my sister’s ski house for two weekends each winter (no room for AP there), but other than that, my children’s sports keep us busy and at home (or traveling for meets) each weekend, and there simply isn’t time or money for extended vacations. Also, I travel for work 2-3 days each week, so the last thing in the world I want to do on weekends is go anywhere far from home!

I’ll share one funny story about an AP I briefly considered this year during matching: his first two questions for me were 1) where does our family go on vacation and 2) do we bring our au pair with us (his third was which hours of the week would he NOT work!). Even if we did go on fancy vacations and even if we did usually take our AP with us, you can believe that an AP who asked about these first, before absolutely everything else, would NOT be the kind of AP we would take with us anywhere!!!

Seattle Mom April 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

We don’t travel that much either… generally just a couple of long weekend camping-type trips. It’s just not in our budget. We have done a few longer trips, usually road trips that combine camping & cheap hotels. And it’s hard to imagine making the au pair cram into the back seat between the car seats for a few hours, so we usually leave her home. Every other year I’ve flown to the east coast with my kids but DH stays home. And this summer we’re all going together for the first time (to stay with my family) and we are leaving the au pair home- we cannot afford the extra plane ticket. I guess we could offer her to come with us and pay part of the ticket and sleep on the couch, but I don’t really think it would be that fun for her- my parents live in a rural area, and there is just nothing around. The outdoors stuff isn’t even as good as in Seattle.

I would love to travel with our au pair, but we barely even travel ourselves- that’s above our tax bracket.

Mimi April 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

We once drove from NE to GA to visit family with the AP, my mom, and three kids all crammed in a mini van. It was her choice to join us and we stopped at a few places along the way. She loved it and still talks about it three years later. It was a great trip considering, but I was miserable and HD will never talk me in to another trip like that again. Ever. Again.


Host Mom in the City April 20, 2015 at 7:59 am

I realized maybe I’m making it seem like we travel all the time, but in reality it’s been one big week long trip every two years. It’s just that that’s coincided with when we’ve had our really good au pairs (coincidence? probably not). Our family really values traveling and it’s what we choose to spend our big money on. We also tend to save up hotel points and do a lot of free activities and PB&J lunch packing when we’re on vacation. So it’s not like we’re dropping $5k on a trip every year. But we do go someplace far away and really different.

We also do a lot of three-day weekend trips. We live in a city with lots of places to visit within about three hours. Lots of camping too.

SwissAuPair April 13, 2015 at 6:53 am

Everything you offer for the AuPair for sure is better than what happened to me: The family “offered” me to join them for ski-holidays, but I would have to pay for accomondation and watch the kids OR stay at home without access to the kitchen and no food or money to buy some at home.

SKNY April 13, 2015 at 11:34 am

Was this in USA? If so would be completely off the rules and you could complain to LCC…

Seattle Mom April 13, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Wow, that is really bad! And I agree with SKNY, if it’s in the US it is against the rules. At the very least you’d need to have a stocked kitchen at your disposal, if not some money for groceries. And if you’re working they have to pay everything.

SwissAuPair April 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm

This was in Norway, and as we all know: Most of the time the AP has no agency. I only has a 8m2 room in the cold basement with a bathroom that was in the cold part of the house (never more than 5°C). Luckily I’ve already lived there for half a year and found enough local friends with nice families who hosted me for a week. I actually reported the family at the UDI (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) but somehow they are still allowed to host aupairs.

exaupair April 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm

No access to the kitchen as in they would ask you not to use it, or would it be locked witch a chain, padlock and a barbed wire for a week???

just asking.

SwissAuPair April 14, 2015 at 12:44 am

The family has a big house with one appartment on the ground floor, that the family is living at and one appartment upstairs. And they have one guest-room in the basement wich was basically only a nice room in a not so nice basement with a bathroom in the cold part of the basement (only the guestroom itself has a heater). So the family went to holiday closed their appartment and switch on the alarm system (with connection to a private security company). I was not able to switch off the alarm, because the family told me that I’m not allowed to know this because of security reasons…
The appartment upstairs was a construction place with no kitchen/bathroom and anyway no room at all (only bare wood-construction of the house) because the family wanted to move upstairs and renewed everything.

Should be working April 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

What about boy au pairs? We are getting one but also have a teenaged daughter (and younger sons). I can’t ask her to share a room with him. I am thinking we won’t invite him along on an an extended-family trip at Xmastime, which I feel bad about, but he can have it as extra vacation. We have always had the AP along but my kids are old enough that they don’t need the AP, plus it’s not us but my parents who (generously) have paid for it all, and again now with a boy au pair I don’t see how the rooms would work.

HRHM April 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm

IF you really wanted him to come, you could do boys in one room (HD, AP and sons) and girls in the other (you and DD) OR do AP and sons in one room and then DD with you and HD in the other – but don’t feel bad telling him that you can’t invite him along on a vacation that your parents are organizing and paying for. Any reasonable adult can understand that…

I would tell him as early as possible so that he can make plans to travel or go to xmas at a friend’s house.

Returning HM April 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

A few years ago, my husband’s uncle paid for our extended family to go on a cruise over Thanksgiving. It never occurred to us to take our AP — she had been with us three months, and although we loved her already, in my view she did not belong on a cruise that was about a bunch of relatives coming together as family.

We simply told AP early on that we were going, explained that the uncle was paying and that there was no option to bring her, and then arranged for her to spend Thanksgiving with my sister in a different city. We organized her travel up there (found a carpool to bring her), and my sister, bless her, even offered to have several of AP’s friends come. So four German APs from DC went to Boston for the holiday. My sister included all of them in Thanksgiving dinner, even paying them for their help when they were extremely helpful with her children and in cleaning up after the big dinner, and then the group had a great long weekend in Boston. AP loved her time away, we enjoyed our family cruise, and it all worked out well.

As HRHM said, just tell your AP well in advance that you’re going and encourage him to make plans. If he needs help making plans of his own, maybe you can help organize something for him. Gosh, you can send him to us on the east coast if you want, since our APs will be about the same age and will speak the same language. :-) All in all, the APs find friends everywhere on FB, so at least ours never have a problem finding places to go and friends to go with whenever they are faced with a few extra days off.

HRHM April 13, 2015 at 6:06 pm

This brings up a great point – wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a way for HPs who were willing to host other families APs to connect?

My AP wants to go to Chicago and Niagra, NY in the summer and doesn’t know any APs in either city. I would love to find her a nice HF/HP who’d be willing to let her couch surf for a few days – but don’t know anyone in either city.

I know lots of APs connect via FB, but I’d be more likely to invite an AP into my home sight unseen if I had another APMom parent who was willing to vouch for her (so that I know she won’t be a terrible guest, destructive, a thief or a PIA!) FWIW, we’re in Denver so it’s a great place to visit and we’d be up for reciprocating.

Returning HM April 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I wish I had known you were there….our AP from a couple of years ago went to Denver alone, and it was her first trip ever by herself. I would have loved to have had a contact there just in case anything had happened to her (I worried literally the entire time she was there…she was from a small town in northern Germany and very innocent and naive).

We are right outside Boston if anyone’s AP wants to come visit here! We don’t have a lot of room – smallest house in our fancy suburb – but we manage to pack people in and have a good time anyway. Right now we have in the house our family of four, our AP, our AP’s girlfriend who is between families, and one of our former APs who is visiting…plus two dogs, a rabbit, and a fish. Somehow it works for everyone, and we’re all managing not to step on each other too often!

TexasHM April 13, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Great minds I brought this up on a previous thread! Dallas/Ft Worth here!

Multitasking Host Mom April 13, 2015 at 9:59 pm

The agency Go au pair offers a program like this for their au pairs. Host families can sign up and they are just asked to provide bed (which could be a couch, blow up mattress, etc.) and breakfast (cold cereal, etc.). I thought it was a great idea. We signed up when we were with that agency but never were contacted by any au pairs so do not know how frequently the program was utilized. At the time we lived never one of the biggest cities in the US but since it was not NYC or LA most au pairs seemed to have not heard of it.

SKNY April 13, 2015 at 9:26 pm

We are in Corning area, NY. Finger lakes/winery land. 2hs from Niagara here. They can do a day trip from here. May relocate in the fall though

Taking a Computer Lunch April 13, 2015 at 10:41 pm

In the 15 years I’ve hosted, we’ve traveled every which way with APs, and while we try to give them their own room, it isn’t always feasible. When staying with family, we give the AP the choice of having a room with a door that closes and sharing it with The Camel (who falls asleep early and doesn’t care if the light is left on) or sleeping alone in the living room while DH and I sleep with her – most APs will chose having the door that closes.

I have shared a tent with an AP and a 5-year-old.

One AP, who wanted to see Niagara Falls, chose to share a room with my mother, while DH and I slept with the kids. They got along famously.

Outgoing and incoming APs shared a section of the attic of a summer cottage separated by beads from an 8-year-old boy who went to bed early and crept downstairs the minute he woke up. (Other than breaking the rule about never taking a new AP on vacation in the first month, it worked out okay, not great, but okay). The outgoing AP had a blast.

We’ve rented hunting lodges for big family trips, we’ve booked rooms and landings in B&Bs, we’ve crashed on the floor of friends & family. APs were given the option to come or not, and most have chosen to come along for the adventure of it all. Sometimes, they have been offered the option of inviting a friend to come along (and several have been able to craft vacations in a manner that friends do join us).

We’ve never required an AP to take vacation days to attend a family trip, but we invariably to give them an extra day off to explore the area on their own.

I do think that as long as you are explicit about expectations, and the AP agrees, then really anything goes. If you can’t afford to book an extra room in a destination city and offer her the option to come and share a room with the kids, then it’s her choice if she says yes. Personally, under those conditions, I wouldn’t mandate attendance if she has to share a room, but a “We’d love to have you join us, but this is what we can afford to do…” paints a realistic picture. My second personal preference, when I cannot afford to bring along an AP, is to apologize and give her extra vacation time.

And remember. It’s only a vacation when you don’t take the kids. Otherwise, it’s a family trip. It’s a good thing to say to an AP, who might otherwise paint a mental picture of a restful, relaxing holiday.

Host Mom X April 14, 2015 at 9:38 am

TACL, I will remember your line about vacation v. family trip forever.

Mimi April 14, 2015 at 10:01 am


Anonymous April 14, 2015 at 11:22 pm

As I read through these posts I am absolutely fascinated. We are on Au Pair #3 and have traveled with all of them. We only have two children, and when we’re travelling we absolutely want to bond, connect, let loose, and all of that. If you had a 19 year old daughter, and 2 smaller children, would you pay for her to have her own room in Hawaii? Hell no (well, at least in my book).

This is how we position it to our Au Pairs: We are going on vacation to a really cool place, we don’t have enough money to afford air fare and your own room, however we would love for you to come. If you are OK sharing a bed with the little one, then you are welcome to join us. We pay her flight, but we all stay in the same room. Maybe because we only have the two kids and they are both small, it works.

Our Au Pairs all come from middle class German families so this is completely normal for them. I realize this is probably breaking some rule, but they get a trip that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, awesome food, with people they generally enjoy being around, so it has never been an issue. But different strokes for different folks. We look for Au Pairs who don’t want the “normal” and TRULY want the family experience, good and bad.

Good: I see a tropical island, eat amazing food, laugh so hard I cry, etc. Bad: I have to put up with host mom snoring and host dad’s stinky feet.

Host Mom in the City April 20, 2015 at 8:03 am

I should clarify my “would never consider putting an au pair in a room with a child” comment to say that I am 100% ok with a host family saying “here’s the deal of where we’re going and what the room situation is – you are more than welcome to come if you still want to or stay home with an extra week of vacation.” If it’s staying with six kids in a room, as long as you’re up front about it and aren’t penalizing her for saying no, have at it.

Repeataupair April 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I have shared room with kids, I have slept on sofa and I also slept in RV with the whole host family, sharing a double bed with a 6 yo ;) You survive !

German aupair April 16, 2015 at 6:28 pm

My hostfamily always takes me on trips. First time we were in their vacation home and I had to share a room with 2 teenagers for 10 days. not a problem. Then we went to my “hostgrandma” and we all slept in the same hotelroom together with my hostparents and kids. It was ok too. We also went rving a couple of times and always slept in the same space. It is fine! Actually it makes me feel more like a family member rather than “just” the nanny. I think it is fine to share rooms. but I have to say my hostfamily also makes sure I have free time and privacy. Especially when I’m all “alone” with the kids in a room for a couple of days. it’s perfectly ok and I think if you want to be part of the family those things come with it. Not just the awesome vacation parts!

TexasHM April 19, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Just saw this in some CCAP documentation and thought it was worth posting:

Family vacations
Some families love to take their APs on vacations with them, others want private time to themselves. Whether or not you invite your AP is your choice. However, if you require your AP to accompany you on a family vacation and she will be “on duty”, you are expected to pay for all expenses in addition to the weekly stipend. If your AP will be providing full days of childcare and is truly the only one responsible, you are expected to provide her with her own private room. However, if the AP will be sharing childcare duties with you or other adults throughout the day then a private bedroom is not required. Please keep in mind that if your AP is sharing a room she should not be “solely” responsible during any sleeping hours – if an issue arises during the night, another responsible adult should be ready to jump in. If your AP is on duty during your family vacation, this time will not count toward your APs vacation time and she should have her own room.

If you invite your AP to join your family on vacation as a part of her vacation time (meaning she will not be responsible for providing any childcare), your au pair should pay for her own expenses. We encourage you to make this very clear from the beginning and give your AP an idea of how much money she will need for the trip.

I felt compelled to post because I think this helps clear up a question I have always had and part of the reason we formed our policies the way we did – it appears that if she is along in more of a helper role (not sole childcare provider) then you don’t have to provide a separate private room. That and I like that CCAP positions (and tells the APs as well) that if she is invited along and not expected to work then she is expected to pay for her own expenses. I like that this expectation is set because then if the HPs do pick up the tab for things it is not expected and is seen as what it is – being generous vs it being positioned as being stingy if they are asked by the HF to pick up a plane ticket or Disney pass to help tack on something they would really love to do.

Host Mom in the City April 20, 2015 at 8:05 am

CCAP does a pretty good job of explaining what should happen. Thanks for sharing. The one thing I think sounds kind of contradictory is this line: “If your AP is on duty during your family vacation, this time will not count toward your APs vacation time and she should have her own room.” So if your AP is on duty (at all?), then she should have her owm room? But then above in that same paragraph it says that if the AP is sharing childcaring duties, then a private room is not required. Am I reading that wrong?

TexasHM April 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

You know HMITC that had me puzzled a bit as well. I *THINK* maybe what they are trying to say is if at anytime the AP is the sole caregiver (meaning even for a date night for a few hours) then she gets a private room (which was my understanding from our time with APIA – if kids are left with her she gets a room). The other reference being to what some families have described above as family trips where the AP doesn’t work but helps during the trip so isn’t the sole caregiver but is still “working” in that she is pitching in which could mean running a load of laundry, distracting kids in the airport, distracting them at the hotel (all while parents are there as well). I will ask our LC and try and get a formal clarification and I agree with you, I have found that of all the agencies, CCAP seems to do the best job of explaining what should happen and setting expectations for both sides fairly and clearly.

Host Mom in Paradise April 30, 2015 at 3:48 pm

I think this line clarifies what “on duty” means:
“If your AP will be providing full days of childcare and is truly the only one responsible, you are expected to provide her with her own private room.”

An evening out is not “on duty.” Date night is not “on duty.” On duty is full days of being the sole caregiver to the children, similar to an au pair’s normal working hours.

Christina August 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm

We are on our 6th au pair and have traveled with the previous 5 quite a bit. If my husband is traveling we get 2 rooms and on occasion the kids stay with her for the night. When my husband is not there I have sometimes just gotten one large room. My au pairs have shared with my MIL and my niece (in her early 20’s). We have a time share and if my IL’s are with us they end up on the pull out couch. They get clear time off and I have arranged tours for some. I did a ghost tour in Honolulu with one and took surfing lessons with another in Maui. We pay for meals when traveling but if they want to do an activity or tour on their own they pay.
I think you should be clear with expectations before you travel.

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