What to pack in your Au Pair travel bag?
It is never easy to know what to pack and what not to pack to travel to your host family. I mean you’ll hopefully be there for quite a few months… You don’t want to bring too much because, of course, you will do some shopping while here, but at the same time, you don’t want to be caught without an essential item that you can’t buy locally. As well you’re going to be in UK for several seasons, so what you might want to wear the first few weeks isn’t what you will wear in 6 months from now.
So I came up with a list of necessities, and a list of things you definitely don’t need to bring.
First of all you need a good quality suitcase because believe me, it will get thrown about by the airline staff. The bigger, the better, but don’t even fill it half way. Most airlines charge by the weight, unless it’s a carry-on bag to take in the plane with you, there is no size restriction. You can usually pack up to 20-25kg, so the lighter your case, the more you can bring back with you, but it’s got to be sturdy. The hard cases are usually quite strong and light weight so this is ideal, but you might find something even better, just watch out for good deals.
The reason I told you not to even fill it half way is that you will be going home with more than what you left with, it’s nearly impossible not to shop while living in another country. When I left for USA as an Au Pair, even though I read lot of blog posts and articles, I still left with a large suitcase that was nearly full. It goes without saying I went back home with more after my year residency there. I actually came home with 3 large cases, all of whom were bigger than the one I initially traveled with.
Most importantly, only bring things you don’t hold close to you heart. You will be bending down on the floor, climbing trees with the children, cooking with tomato sauce… You don’t want to damage precious items of clothing or shoes. But bear in mind they need to be comfortable enough to walk and run with.
You need to bring enough clothes to last about 2 weeks in case you can’t go shopping the first weekend. But remember, your host family will have a washing machine, and as it is very likely you will be responsible to clean the children’s clothes, you will have plenty of opportunities to wash yours with theirs.
Also try to only bring outfits, it is very likely that if you bring tops and trousers separately, you won’t end up wearing them if you don’t have anything to go with it. But bring things you don’t mind leaving behind when you get back home, because that way you can bring back the new clothing you bought as a priority in case if your suitcase is too small or too heavy to take it all back.
Print the tick list below if you think it would help to have it written down.
- Passport and/or ID
- Contact details for your host family
- Notebook with key phrases in case you get lost, the address and phone number of the Embassy of your home country, important phone numbers including your host family, your flight number, emergency contact for Nutkin Au Pairs
- Insurance card
- International driver’s license
- Cash in both £ + € or else + credit or debit card for the case of an emergency
- Flight ticket from the airline
Make sure to take photo copies of the important documents with you in case you lose your documents. Keep these and your mobile phone in a separate pocket from the rest.
Clothing – they all need to be comfortable and practical:
- 2 pairs of trousers with jumpers
- 3 pairs of leggings with matching tops
- 4 or 5 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of plain tights you can wear with most skirt/dresses
- 1 or 2 skirts with tops or dresses
- 5 pairs of underwear
- 1-2 swimming costumes: full-piece for with the children and an additional bikini if you wish so
- 2 pyjamas
- 1 or 2 thick cardigans
- 1 or 2 thin cardigans
- 1 pair of joggers
- Comfortable and closed-toed shoes (trainers, converses etc.)
- Weather-proof jacket
- 1 party outfit if you don’t want to shop for one last minute, but I would myself prefer to buy especially for the occasion
- If you bring a winter coat, only do so if you will wear it during your journey
Toiletries + Medicine – bring everything travel size:
- Bag of essential makeup: 1 lipstick, 1 eye liner, 1 blush, 1 foundation, 1 mascara, 1 eye shadow
- Makeup remover
- Bag of travel size shampoo and shower gel
- Mini hand balm and face cream if absolutely needed
- Your pill & prescribed medications – make sure that you have the relevant prescriptions or they might be refused on board
- Your contact lenses + cleaning solution or glasses if required/best to bring a spare as well in case
You might like to bring your favourites things, but remember you’re going on an adventure, to explore a new way of life, and trying local products is part of the fun. To bring creams you will definitely need and not find there, make sure they are packed in the suitcase that doesn’t come with you in the cabin or they WILL get thrown away at border control if over 100ml.
Make sure to pack enough of your prescription medications, should you need any, to cover the duration of your stay. Just make sure they are not packed together in case you lose some then you don’t lose it all.
- Electronic devices such as laptop, camera etc.
- Adapter for your electronic devices + charger for your laptop/camera/cell phone etc.
- Spare phone if you want to have your UK and home country lines both working at the same time. Make sure the phone for your UK sim card is unlocked. Nutkin Au Pairs will provide a Sim card in your welcome pack.
- Present for your host family & children
- Photos of your family and friends back home to hang in your room so you don’t feel homesick
- Sun glasses
- Small dual language dictionary
Things You Do Not Need to Pack:
- Bed sheets, blankets or pillows
- A ton of thick (and heavy) novels, movies or CDs
- Too many of anything
- A hair dryer, curling iron or straightener – your host family should let you use theirs
- Expensive items
- Breakable items
- Anything you feel you can do without for a day or two, don’t bring them and get them there, just make sure you have planned enough spending money.
This post was written by Sarah Cozens