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Great vacation on a budget? Of course!
You are coming to America to experience life as an Au Pair for a year or maybe two, with plans to travel during your time abroad and your vacation time is the perfect opportunity to turn these plans into a reality. If you manage and budget your weekly stipend according to your travel expectations, then you can plan your adventures and trips away.
You will receive 2 weeks of vacation. These weeks can either be as a whole or two separate weeks! Like one week in Summer and one week in the Autumn. This will be an agreement between the Au Pair and the host family.
In most cases, your host family will talk about your vacation time during your introduction period. This will give you the opportunity to plan and save for your vacation weeks. If your host family have not confirmed your vacation time, bring the conversation forward as it is a good idea to discuss your vacation time with your family as this will give you time to prepare. Do not book accommodation, travel or make arrangements until you have discussed your vacation time with your family.
I recently returned from a trip to Orlando, that I planned and budgeted for with a few weeks notice. I really wanted to experience as much as possible during my trip whilst staying on a reasonable budget. Below I have discussed ways in which I began planning my trip and how I managed the costs!
Planning your vacation or week off
When planning your vacation, it is a good idea to ask your host family and other Au Pairs about their experiences with travelling within the States (check out Monica’s trip to Chicago!). If you have a few travel destinations in mind, research them beforehand. By doing so, you will have the opportunity to view what an area has to offer regarding their location, local events, festivals, tourist attractions and where to eat etc. Always be open minded to trying an adventure that you haven’t considered!
There are a variety of ways you can travel around the States, flying, train, bus, driving. With flying and driving being the most popular. If you decide to fly, then begin to look online for flights as soon as possible. Nowadays many websites offer an automatic price comparison which enables you to choose the cheapest flight. During my recent online searches for flights, I found that one day could make your flight a lot cheaper. Being flexible can be a great advantage here.
If you choose to drive and take a road trip, then rent a car from a trusted car dealership. If you split the cost of rental and gas between friends, this can be a really inexpensive way to travel. It also gives you the chance to view different landscapes throughout the country whilst improving your driving skills.
When booking flights, many websites give you the option to book a hotel also. Personally, I prefer to book my flight and hotel separately. I have been using an accommodation, www.booking.com for a few years and I find it the best site to book accommodation as it allows you to make a reservation and pay nothing until you arrive – bonus, you have your accommodation in advance and time to save!
If you are seeking an outdoors experience, why not consider camping? It’s cheap, fun and can offer a completely new chapter to your experiences. Imagine a group of friends under the stars and toasting all American s’mores. Check out www.gocampingamerica.com to get some information on camping in America.
What documentation to take with you
When preparing for your trip, make sure you have the correct documentation. This will include your passport with your visa and your DS-2019 form. This is quoted on the InterExchange website “Do I need to take all of my documents with me when I travel? Yes, take all of your original documents; copies will not work. Make sure you have your passport and DS-2019 form”
Who to travel with
The majority of Au Pairs that I know either travel with other Au Pairs or they meet their relatives in a different state. If you choose to travel alone, there are solo travel groups across America that are safe and provides the opportunity for solo travellers to travel with other solo travellers. If you are a solo traveller, then take a look at www.aupairadventures.com
Before leaving for your trip, look online to view the best offers regarding activities or events available in your destination. I love taking a look on www.tripadvisor.com. Trip Advisor allows you to read reviews regarding locations, museums, theme parks, restaurants, accommodation etc. And who doesn’t like to get a second opinion, huh? During my research for my recent trip to Orlando, I found discounted tickets, codes and coupons online at www.undercovertourist.com . With some online digging, you will probably come across ways to save when buying tickets for most events.
On a closing note …
It is important to fulfil your role and responsibilities as an Au Pair, but it is also important to enjoy your experience. Make the most of your vacation time to do something you enjoy, whether visiting a new state or exploring the state you’re in. From an Au Pair who has almost 7 months experience, take my advice when I say ‘Begin saving some stipend as soon as you arrive’. Put it away for a rainy day! You never know when an unexpected trip may arise, so it’s good to be prepared.