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 hotel 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.