4 min read

Au Pair Meaning: A Simple Definition? Or A Way To Get Paid To Travel?

an au pair walking on the beach toward the ocean with her host sister

Here in the United States, many people have no idea the meaning of au pair. While, in Germany, it's almost a rite of passage. In the US we use words like babysitter or nanny. In reality, those terms don't fully explain au pair meaning.

What's An Au Pair Anyway?

What is an au pair? Well, an Au Pair takes care of the children in a carefully screened host family and tutors them in English during scheduled hours. These scheduled hours are agreed upon between the au pair and host family in advance. Au Pairs help the children with their homework and assist in keeping children’s rooms and play areas clean. They prepare snacks and meals for the children and drop them off or pick them up from school or activities.

Is This Something That Requires Experience?

Can you be an au pair without experience? The answer is really simple. A host family that is going to trust you with their children will want to know you have cared for children before. But what does that mean and how does that relate to au pair meaning?

Have you worked in an after-school program with kids? How about a summer camp? Both of those activities count as your au pair experience. Have you babysat for friends, family, or neighbors? If you have done that for more than 120 hours, you have the experience we're looking for here at GeoVisions Foundation. Chances are you have the right experience for a host family.

Having an au pair job abroad allows you to use the experience you already have with child care to travel and get paid. Yes, you'll provide child care. But as a native-English speaker, you'll also be speaking to the family in English. The children's grades will improve, and the entire family will improve their English. You will learn their language too. Also, with the stipend you receive and days off, you can travel. Au Pair hours are from 20 to 35 hours a week.

Digging Deeper Into Aupair Meaning

So now aupair meaning goes deeper than the dictionary definition. It is an exchange of culture and food. It's new friends and a home base in the country. It's relationships and friendships you'll have, possibly for the rest of your life. Aupair meaning includes getting paid to travel. Realizing dreams you may have had for many years, starting to become real life.

Further au pair meaning suggests it's a person who moves to another country to look after a family's children part-time in exchange for a private room, financial compensation, and meals. It's important to realize that au pairs are not servants or nannies. They usually study another language while the children are at school. Because of the nature of the position, they experience and learn a new and different culture.

There's a lot to unpack in there:

  • Some of the benefits include a private room, all of your meals, and some financial compensation. Sometimes that is called a salary, and sometimes it's an allowance. It isn't a great deal of money, since you get your room and board. But you could get anywhere from $450 to $600 a month on top of the room and board. You won't get rich, but you won't be an au pair as your career either. For now, it's a perfect job for anyone who wants to travel and get paid and live in another country for free.
  • You will sign an agreement that will outline your duties. In this way, you are not a servant. You become a part of the family and you're included in family activities. You're not going to do the host parent's laundry, or provide them meals. You're not going to clean the house. You are there to care for the children, keep their rooms tidy, and prepare meals and snacks for them, not the entire household.
  • You can attend classes if you want. That can get expensive. But if you want to use your free time to take a course of some kind or start up a new hobby, that's perfectly fine.

You should understand that as an au pair you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time alone and must ask yourself what to do in your free time. If learning the local language or any other language is your goal, try to find a language school or some native people with whom you can practice. This is really important because you may get bored if you only work. Facebook can be a really good solution because there are millions of pages about au pairs around the world.

Where Do You Want To Go And How Long Can you Stay?

If aupair meaning fits what you'd like to do for the next few months, you could begin to figure out where you want to go and how long you'd like to stay.

Do you have only 2 or 3 months that you can spend abroad in this aupairworld we find ourselves in? No problem. Think in terms of France, Germany, Italy or Spain. It's easy to use your tourist visa and spend no more than 90-days with a host family as their au pair in Europe. The au pair pay is the same if you stay for 3 months or 12 months!

If you only have six months, give a thought to New Zealand or Australia. You'll need a working holiday visa for those two countries. But it's worth it. Stay six months and then say another six months doing something different if you have the time. You'll have the money because you'll be paid to be an au pair for those first six months.

The Netherlands requires a 12-month commitment. That requirement comes from the government, and there isn't anything we can do about it.

Not only do you have so many locations to choose, you also have many choices for how long you're going to travel abroad and get paid as an au pair. For additional information, we have an in-depth article entitled How To Become An Au Pair.

We have prepared an au pair care resource guide for you. It's free and you don't even have to share your personal information with us to get it. Find out if being a great au pair is for you. Download our 3-page resource guide: 10-Tips To Being A Great Au Pair. Grab your own copy now.

Want to get started? We're ready to welcome you. To be a great au pair, fill out our application form and we'll interview you. Choose a country where you'd like to live for a few months (and get paid while living there) and we can have you matched with an amazing family in a matter of a few short weeks.


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