On this site, au pairs can find a packing list with the most important things you should take with you as well as tips about what to pack. But first of all, make sure you have read our travel safety tips.

We also have the 5 “must-pack” items for you as well as a list with 5 things you don’t need to pack.

 

What you Need to Pack

After you are done with all the paperwork and visa application, packing your suitcase sounds easier than it might actually turn out to be in the end. When it’s time to decide what to take with you and what to leave at home, most au pairs ask themselves: “What do I actually need to pack?”.

In the case that you are unsure what to pack for your time abroad as an au pair, we have a summary of the most important things and a general packing list for you.

You can make a packing list with the most important things in advance to make sure that you don’t forget anything. But don’t worry too much about forgetting anything. You can most likely also buy the things you forgot in your host country.

Important Documents

  • Passport + Visa
  • Flight ticket from the airline (note down your flight number)
  • Emergency contact of your Au Pair agency
  • Contact details and important telephone numbers (from your host family, your Au Pair agency, the address of the Emabssy of your home country etc.)
  • Some cash (about $200) + credit or debit card for the case of an emergency
  • Insurance card
  • International driver’s license
  • Make sure to take photo copies of the important documents with you!

Clothes

Don’t worry too much about the clothes you pack. You will be very likely to buy lots of new clothes during your stay abroad.
Make sure to pack old clothes, you don’t mind getting dirty or stretched out.
No matter how old your host children are and whether it’s feeding an infant, doing crafts with a five year old or playing outside with an older host child, your clothes need to be comfortable and practical.

Another tip is to pack old clothes, not only because you probably won’t mind if they get dirty or stretched out, but also because you will probably buy a lot of new clothes throughout your time abroad and won’t particularly mind leaving your old clothes in your host country by the end of your stay.

Most important, bring appropriate clothes, thus, no revealing clothes

  • Practical (!), old and comfortable clothes (keep in mind that you will spend most of your time with children)
  • Comfortable and closed-toed shoes (sneakers etc.)
  • Weather-proof jacket
  • Some nicer outfits for when you go out with friends in the evening or for family birthdays
  • Appropriate clothes (no revealing clothes); f.i. full-piece bathing suit in addition to your bikini
  • If you are leaving in summer, you don’t need to bring a warm winter coat and vice versa; you will have enough time to buy it during your time abroad

Toiletries + Medicine

When it comes to toiletries (and medicine) you will find that what people advise you to bring can be quite contradictory. Some people tell you to bring all your toiletires with you, other claim that this is not necessary and suggest that you only bring as much as you need for the first couple of days/weeks.

On the one hand, you should only pack enough toiletries to get through the first week(s) as shampoo, shower gel and co. are usually very heavy and take up a lot of space and weight in your suitcase.

On the other hand, we recommend that you inform yourself in advance if the products you use are available in your host country and home much they will cost.
Depending on where you go, your favorite products might be a lot more expensive than in your home country and it may be a good idea to pack your favorite products and also bring some back-up bottles. Bringing your favorite products also ensures that you have all the comforts of your home.

Most Au Pairs only wear minimal make-up so that it is usually not necessary to take a ton of make-up with you. Just take a small bag with the essentials with you.

Most host families have an extra hair dryer they let you borrow, so that there is no need for you to bring your own (which will probably have different elctrical plugs anyway).

  • Your favorite products (shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer etc.) + back-up, if they are not available in your host country (or more expensive)
  • Small bag of make-up
  • If you wear contact lenses, make sure to bring them + cleaning solution
  • Don’t bring hair dryers, curling irons or straighteners; they only take up space

It is also advisable to bring a set (small sizes) of the most important medicine you are used to from home, including medicine for pain, cold/flue or an upset stomach and the essentials like plasters and bandaids.
Make sure to pack enough of your prescription medications, should you need any, to cover the duration of your stay. Seeing a doctor in your host country might be expensive, even if you have a health insurance.

  • Medical kit with most important medicine
  • Basic medicine you know from home
  • Enough of prescription medication
  • If you wear them: enough contact lenses for the length of your stay

Miscellaneous

  • Electronic devices such as laptop, camera etc.
  • Adapter for your electronic devices + charger for your laptop/camera/cell phone etc.
  • Present for your host family
  • Do you wear glasses? Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Photos of your family and friends at home
  • Some sweets or other food of your home country you don’t want to go without for an entire year
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Address book with the addresses of your family and friends
  • Small dictionary

5 “must-pack” Items

  • Passport and visa (+ copy of both)
  • Flight ticket
  • Emergency contacts
  • Comfortable and appropriate (old) clothes
  • Medical Kit + prescription medication

5 Things You Do Not Need to Pack

  • Towels
  • Bed sheets, blankets or pillows
  • A ton of thick (and heavy) novels, movies or CDs
  • Too many dressy clothes and high heel shoes
  • A hair dryer, curling iron or straightener (your host family usually lets you use theirs)

This post is also available in: German