Paid to Travel: A Millennial's Dream

 Photo by Jessica Mathews

Photo by Jessica Mathews

Millennials spend a lot of time on their phones, iPads, laptops, and tablets, but they also spend more time traveling the world than any other generation before them.

According to Forbes, millennials are primarily looking for culture immersion, not just a party, and they are looking to have these experiences on a budget.

“Over 80% of millennials seek unique travel experiences and say that the best way to learn about a place is to live like the locals do,” says an Airbnb report from November 2016.

It should be of no surprise that living abroad as an au pair is becoming more and more common. From the year 2006 to 2011, the number of men and women interested in becoming au pairs has more than doubled, according to aupairworld.com.

“When someone offers you a job halfway around the world and encourages you to spend that time traveling, why not take them up on it?” said Laura Johnson, a 20 year-old at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who spent two months working as an au pair for Jo Teasdale and her two daughters. Johnson stayed in a room in the Teasdale’s home in Beaconsfield, England, a twenty-minute train-ride away from Marlyebone Station in London. Johnson said the family members were “more like friends than an employer.”

 The Teasdale family | Photo by Jessica Mathews

The Teasdale family | Photo by Jessica Mathews

For a minimal price, or sometimes for no cost depending on the negotiation, young millennials can travel for a few months, or even a few years, without spending the hefty costs that usually coincide. They have the opportunity to have an immersive experience with locals of another culture as they live in their home and take care of the children and work around the house.

The expectations and details of the job vary. Au pairs and host parents set up an arrangement beforehand. Au pairs are traditionally expected to look after the children when needed and perform some household tasks. In return, they receive a room to stay in and are welcome to help themselves to the family’s food. Host parents also pay a weekly stipend (usually ranging between 50 and 100 euros) and sometimes even pay for the au pair’s flights back and forth to their home.

 Laura Johnson at Canterbury Cathedral | Photo by Jessica Mathews

Laura Johnson at Canterbury Cathedral | Photo by Jessica Mathews

In return, host parents have another set of hands for a minimal cost. Hiring an au pair only requires paying a stipend and introducing someone as another member of the family for a period of time.

“During my time in Europe, I traveled to Sevilla and Barcelona, Spain; Lagos and Albufeira, Portugal; Edinburgh, Scotland; and several cities across England—Windsor, Oxford, Canterbury, Bournemouth, New Forest, and London,” said Johnson. “The best part of my experience was being able to connect with other au pairs in the area. Several nights we went out to the pub and talked about the differences in the American, English, French, [and] German cultures. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Laura Hearson, a 24-year old from Perth, Australia worked for 10 months as an au pair for two children, Sidney and Tiphaine, in a small village in Biot, France, 25 minutes from Cannes and Nice and 10 minutes from the beach.

“I think I saw au pairing as more of a gateway to being able to live in France and learn the language,” says Hearson. Hearson originally heard about au pairing from her mother’s friend, Nikki.

 Laura Hearson with Sidney and Tiphaine | Photo from Laura Hearson

Laura Hearson with Sidney and Tiphaine | Photo from Laura Hearson

“Nikki had au paired in Paris for two years for a French family and within those two years picked up the language, which was always a goal of mine… We both shared an undefined love for the country that felt like our second home,” Hearson said.

 Port in Cannes near the Ramus home | Photo by Jessica Mathews

Port in Cannes near the Ramus home | Photo by Jessica Mathews

Hearson explored France on off-days, but she loved how she could travel to Italy and Spain and back in a day, “not something you do when you [are] in Australia.”

Hearson fell in love with French culture and was not ready to leave after her 10 months in Biot. She heard about a British family looking for an au pair through a hairdresser, and after working with the kids for four months, Tristan Ramus, the father, hired her as his personal assistant.

Hearson still lives with them now in a one bedroom flat attached to their house.

“[It] has changed my life completely,” says Hearson.

Whether it is two months in a foreign country, or a one-way flight into a career, millennials are looking for an experience they simply cannot find back home.