So you’ve decided to plan an unforgettable gap year or career break? There’s no better or more enriching way to travel the world than as a language au pair.
Being a language au pair unlocks a variety of incredible opportunities. As well as visiting the destinations you’ve always wanted to see around the world, you get to live in them.
As a language au pair, you’ll stay free of charge with a host family, and exchange your language skills for real cultural and full language immersion.
Sounds exciting, right? Here’s how to prepare for your language au pair stay and countdown to an experience of a lifetime.
Chat with your hosts
Make use of Lingoo’s secure messaging service and get to know your chosen host family long before you arrive at their door.
As well as discovering whether the host family is right for you, these regular chats will familiarise you with each and every family member. Chatting with your host family can also offer an important insight into family life. With this, you can feel more comfortable from the very start of your stay and keep feelings of homesickness at bay.
Your host family will be happy to answer any questions. Feel free to quiz them on everything from what to add to your itinerary to what to pack in your suitcase.
Buy a gift for the family
What better way to break the ice with your host family than to bring them a gift from your home country. This gift could provide the perfect introduction to you and your country to get the au pair-host family relationship off to a great start.
It could also get the family excited about language learning. If you’re short on ideas for what to buy, get your host family involved as experienced au pair Dana of Wien Queen fame explains:
“Ask first if there’s anything they want from your home country. They’ll appreciate the thought. My first host family wanted me to look for these weird striped jumpers for her kids from Osh Kosh B’Gosh that she had apparently not been able to find anywhere else. Don’t get them something that they’d rather have in their own country. As an American, I knew wine and chocolate are better in Europe so I didn’t bother with that.”
Bringing along separate gifts for the parents and children in your host family is another great idea. Whoever you’re buying for, keep host family gifts meaningful and inexpensive.
Your language au pair stay isn’t any old trip. You’ll need to be prepared for work and play so make sure you pack accordingly. Again knowledge from your host family will come in handy when packing.
Ask them about what weather to expect, what activities you’ll be getting involved in and which customs or traditions you need to be aware of.
The best way to ensure you pack everything you need is to make a packing list. Dress for comfort when travelling and working with your host family. Don’t overburden yourself with too many toiletries either. Only bring what’s necessary, you’ll be able to purchase toiletries in your host country - leaving more room in your suitcase for the essentials.
Say your goodbyes
Whether your language au pair stay takes you to some far-flung location or to a country nearby, saying goodbye to those closest to you will be difficult. But you can certainly have fun doing it.
If you’re travelling the world for a long time, go out in style by throwing a going-away party. Spend plenty of quality time with your family and friends in the weeks before your departure too.