Unusual Travel Jobs: Want to Be An Au Pair?

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How getting a job as a nanny could help you see the world.


Lerato Bambo is a 22-year-old from Johannesburg, South Africa who always wanted to travel. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Management, she found her perfect job. “I figured out the cheapest way is to be a live-in nanny for short-term periods in different countries, which I've been doing for the past two years,” she said.


Bambo has since worked as an au pair in 20 countries including Turkey, Ireland, Dubai and Zambia, as well as Seattle, Washington and New Jersey in the United States. An au pair is a term for a child care provider who lives with a host family as part of an international cultural exchange program.


She started as a live-in nanny by creating a profile on an au pair website. She chose the countries where she wanted to work and then contacted the families, explaining that she was searching for short-term contracts of three months or less. She completed interviews via Skype with as many families as possible, then found her perfect family to live with.


She knew after high school that this was what she wanted to do, but her mother was against the program. “After completing my degree and graduating, my mom didn't have a problem with it,” she said.


Now she typically works four days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and earns a weekly salary of about $300. “On the weekends, I explore,” said Bambo. “In most cases the families I work for travel a lot. With my current family, the father is a pilot and the mom works at the head office for an airline, so we are always going somewhere.”


Bambo said that the skills needed for a job as an au pair are a love for both children and cooking. Au pairs must be between 18 and 26 years old, be proficient in English and submit a background police check and health certificate. The au pair candidates write a letter to the host family and submit photos. They go through an intensive interview process and see if the family and au pair are a fit.


However, Bambo cautions those who think this is the ideal job for them.  “On Skype, the children will be cute angels and you will feel very confident that they will like you and you don’t even think about bad things that might happen,” she said. “I love kids, but most are spoiled. They will test you, kick you, threaten you, lie to their parents about you and spit on you. You will clean so much poo and pee that it won’t even phase you anymore. It is a hard job! Even if you think you can handle it and it’s ok, there will be days or weeks when you will want to go home, but just remember your goals.”


As a result, Bambo said that once you get the job, always have enough money for a flight home as you'll never know what will happen. “Before moving abroad to go live with strangers always get a bit of information on the family – their name, surname, where they work, address etc. — from them and give it to your family.


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