Are you trying to decide which host country or host countries you'd like to select in your search for a host family and your plans for an au pair stay? Here are some questions to help you along as you make this important choice.
1. What countries are possible?
It only makes sense to consider host countries where you'll be able to enter freely or obtain a visa for the au pair stay. So an important first step is to get informed where you can (and cannot) travel for an au pair stay given your own nationality. For EU-based au pairs, all other EU countries are open. For non-EU au pairs and EU au pairs travelling outside the EU, different countries have various types of visas that allow young people from many different countries to enter after they have matched with a host family.
You can use the AuPairWorld Country Check questionnaire to get a first overview of your possible au pairing countries.
And for more detailed information about specific countries and their entry requirements, take a look at AuPairWorld's Info Host Countries section - which gives comprehensive information on au pairing in 21 different countries.
2. How much time and money do you have available?
Au pairing is one of the cheapest and most accessible ways to get in-depth international experience. But you still need to be practical and look at the resources you have available.
Travelling to a distant location (for example, Australia or the USA for many au pairs) will involve higher costs and usually a longer time commitment. Make sure your dreams fit your budget before you get too far advanced with your plans - and if necessary make an adjustment. There are lots of great choices for nearly every au pair.
3. What are your language learning goals?
One of the really great things about an au pair stay is the progress you will make learning another language. It is useful in this connection to consider how you will want to use your new language skills after the au pair stay Thinking about this may give you some more specific ideas about what language you would like to learn and therefore which countries you'd be most interested in travelling to.
Things to keep in mind in connection with language learning and choosing a country:
What language is it that you want to learn?
Obviously, France is good for learning French. And Spain is good for learning Spanish. You can certainly learn English in the UK. But Ireland is also a possibility. As is Australia or New Zealand or Canada or the USA. And many au pairs also sharpen their English skills during an au pair stay in one of the Scandinavian countries. Germany is great for German - but Austria or Switzerland might also be possibilities.
In any case, it's helpful to get your plans for language learning and travel lined up with each other.
What language skills do you already have?
You don't have to be an expert in the language of your host country before you start your au pair stay. But having some basic skills in the language of your chosen host country will be very helpful. Many au pairs use the au pair stay to really become fluent in a language that they started to learn in school. And doing some language training before the au pair stay begins can also be very beneficial.
Do your existing language skills point you towards one host country or another?
4. What are your adventure dreams?
Of course you need to be practical - in connection with visas and with time and money and existing language skills.
But another part of your host country choice has to do with your dreams and desires. Is there a country that you find fascinating or appealing in some special way? For its music or its people or its history or its food or its sights or its climate or whatever?
Then see if you can use your au pair stay to follow that interest and realise that dream. You're only young once and the world is a big place.