So you’ve finally finished your application, found a family that matches what you want – and by this point are probably absolutely exhausted and never wanna hear the words Au Pair or application ever again! But the fun part is just around the corner, so now it’s time to prepare to leave for your year abroad!
Luckily, the majority of stuff that’s required for you to do before you leave is included in your application, which takes a lot of stress off in the run up to leaving! The last few weeks before you go, if you’re anything like me, will be jam packed! So whatever you do, don’t follow in my footsteps and leave all the packing to the absolute last minute!
I spent my last couple of months doing a lot of ‘life admin’ which really did help in my lead up to my year abroad and would definitely recommend you to do as much as possible! I made appointments with the dentist, doctors, hairdresser and nail technician – knowing that it could be a while before I’d next be able to get this stuff done when in USA, so wanted to be more than prepared in advance! I signed myself up to Transferwise well in advance so that there were no issues regarding money transferring once I was in the States and had a bank account set up. I also ensured I changed up some pounds to dollars – because even though my new family would be paying me weekly, I still wanted to have enough to get me through the orientation week, as well as a little bit extra incase I decided to go on a shopping spree in my first month! Overall, I went over there with about $300, which was way more than I needed as I only spent about $200 in my first three weeks in America, even with my additional salary on top! However, it gave me peace of mind and ensured I wasn’t hit with any additional bank fees or hidden charges. I cancelled all my direct debits, gym membership, phone contract and insurance about a month before I left – ensuring I was still covered right up until I got on the plane, but knowing I also wouldn’t be paying for services I didn’t need while I was out there!
Packing, for me, is always insanely stressful. I HATE packing with a passion! Even though I’d now consider myself a travel veteran, I still somehow can’t get the packing side of travelling down to a tee – always over-packing and bringing unnecessary stuff that I don’t need! The stupid thing is, when advising others what and how much to pack – I’m great! So words of advice – that I should definitely read and take myself up on in the future! First of all, make sure you know exactly how big or small the weight allowance is for you to take on the plane. I was allowed two 20k suitcases on my flight to JFK, and I made use of every single pound! For those going over to somewhere like the West Coast, where the weather will be hot majority of the time, count yourself lucky! Make sure you research exactly what the climate will be in the place you’re headed to. With New York, I had to make sure I packed for all four seasons – which definitely added more bulk than if I was moving down to Florida instead! Roll your clothes as small and as tight as you possibly can – as it will allow you to fit a LOT more into your baggage. Don’t bother packing toiletries, other than a small amount to last you for the first week, as they add a lot of extra weight and are very unnecessary as you’ll be able to buy everything you want upon arrival and therefore give you at least an extra 2kg or so to add extra clothes!
An additional thing to leave space in your suitcase for would be a few gifts for your new host family and children. Although not mandatory, 98% of Au Pair’s bring at least a little something, generally trying to make it culturally specific from their origin country. Being that I’m British, I thought I’d bring an extremely stereotypical teapot and teabag collection (even though I can’t stand tea and would never drink it myself!) I also bought along some classic children’s books (where the wild things are and the tiger who came to tea) that bought back insane amounts of primary school nostalgia! Finally, I stuffed my bag with as many British chocolates and biscuits as I possibly could, although admittedly I did hold a few back for myself for the days I felt a little homesick! The treats were really well received and I felt a sense of pride when they admitted UK chocolate tasted a lot nicer than American. Result!
Other than that, there’s thankfully not much else to consider! My last few weeks was spent seeing friends and family for the last time before I jetted off for a year, as well as stuffing my face with all the UK food I knew I wasn’t going to be the same out there! I probably spent at least £300 on dinners and drinks with everyone in the days leading up to my departure – but knowing that I was having what I would call real bacon and sausage, was most definitely worth it! Overall, don’t be nervous, make as many to do lists as you most possibly can and stay organised! If you’re on top of everything you need to do, then trust me, you’ll be just fine!