Family holidays and your au pair – What works best?

The routines of everyday family life get all mixed up when a family heads out on a vacation trip. Thinking ahead will let you find the right role for your au pair during this time.

The host family and their au pair enjoying time together while doing stand up paddling
, in Host families

Every vacation trip requires planning in advance

A destination needs to be chosen, accommodation has to be booked. The differing wishes and expectations of family members big and small have to be taken into account. Where does an au pair fit into this complex mix?

There are various au pair-related questions families need to consider when it's time to plan the next family trip. Let's think about them one by one.

Will your au pair come, too?

The aim is to treat your au pair like a member of the family. Does that mean that she (or he) has to come on the family trip (just like your kids do)?

When everything goes well, family vacation time allows for special bonding and sharing for everyone involved. And it's also a great chance to provide new experiences of cultural enrichment for an au pair. It's a great chance for everyone to get to know each other better since you will all be spending more time together. But if an au pair is not going to be happy with the planned destination and activities, then no one gains by having an extra member in the family party who is doing things against their will. 

This is the most basic question that needs to be decided: Will the au pair be included in the family trip or not? As host parents you need to talk about this question with your au pair and choose a course of action that everyone feels comfortable with. Depending on what you decide together, a variety of other questions arise that also need to be dealt with.

Today we will focus on the au pair joining the family on holidays. In another article we'll focus on the possibilities and course of action when the au pair does not join the family.

If your au pair joins the family group on holiday...

Will the au pair be there to work (taking care of the kids) or to be on holiday (like the rest of the family)?

This is the main question you should ask yourself first and then discuss with the au pair since it could be a tricky matter to regulate.

If your au pair is going to have regular childcare duties during the holiday, it's important to give her a clear idea of exactly what kind of support you will be expecting her to provide so that she can make an informed decision if she's ready to join in the fun (and work) or not. And so that there are no unpleasant surprises for you or your au pair. In terms of working hours and pocket money, it should be as usual. The au pair should not work more than normally and she should be receiving the same amount of pocket money. Besides, remember that she will still have the right to take holidays, so you will have to think of other childcare solutions when she is not there.

If you offer your au pair to go on holidays with you so that she has holidays as well, give her some time to think about it in advance. Maybe she wishes to have holidays on her own or with friends or maybe fly back home. You should respect her decision in this matter. And likewise, you should also feel free to tell your au pair you want to make holidays on your own. The important point here is to discuss everything in advance (even before starting the stay, best when you are preparing the au pair contract). Anyway, if the au pair does go with you on holidays, make it clear that you want to spend time together and that obviously includes playing with the children. Apart from that, make it clear for the au pair as well that these days will be deducted from her total amount of holidays.

Last but not least, check also in advance if your destination will imply getting a visa for the au pair. Maybe you do not need one but the au pair does.

Will the au pair have her (or his) own room in the holiday accommodation?

In regular family life, it is a basic requirement that each au pair has a room of her own. How does this work on holiday? If the au pair is putting in her regular hours, it could very well be important for her to have some possibility of stepping back from the family activities into her own space. Obviously a separate room is the best place to do this. On the other hand, booking an extra hotel room can have a serious impact on the costs of a holiday trip. What's a fair and reasonable way to proceed? Again, a clear discussion about the arrangements with your au pair in advance is essential. Depending on the relationship you all have, it could well be possible to improvise a little bit and find a solution that keeps costs down, still gives your au pair the privacy that she needs and deserves, but doesn't require renting a fully separate room. You need to talk about it and make a plan. Maybe renting an apartment is more suitable and affordable? 

Will all of your au pair's expenses be covered during the trip?

If your au pair is taking part in the trip to work, you'll have to pay the costs of the holidays (flight tickets, accommodation and meals) for the au pair plus her normal pocket money. Obviously, if the au pair wants to buy some souvenirs, that's at her own expense.

If she's there simply as another member of the family and not in a working capacity as an au pair, you need to discuss what's included and what's not. Probably you will pay for her travel and accommodation, but what about restaurant meals and drinks and pool snacks? Again there's no right answer per se to this question. You need to think ahead about what the costs will be and what you feel comfortable paying for and then discuss this situation with your au pair. AuPairWorld's recommendation is basically that every family activity or meal should be covered by the family. For example, if the family is having dinner in a restaurant and the au pair cannot afford it, would be it comfortable that she has dinner somewhere else alone? 

What if the au pair is on holidays but the family wants her one night to babysit?

It is entirely normal that host parents will want to enjoy an evening alone when they are on vacation. You can always ask the au pair if she minds babysitting for you for one night, but you should also discuss this with her in advance. Also consider the possibility that the au pair may want to go out on her own as well some other night.

Despite the complexity of some of these questions, everything can be quite simple if both family and au pair take it as a "give and take" situation. The main thing is: Make sure you all find a good way to enjoy the holidays! 

Have you ever been on holidays with your au pair? Share your experience with us!