Updated: Jun 3
Have you ever dreamed of being paid to travel the world? Me too. I used to sit in my window-less city office and day dream about visiting every country I could think of and even better, getting paid to do so. It became so all-consuming that I quit my law job and bought a one-way ticket to Greece. I sold everything I owned and moved in with my parents for several weeks to attempt to save those last few dollars I was planning to live on indefinitely, or at least until I figured out my next move.
When my departure day came I jumped on my flight to Athens without a doubt in my mind that everything was going to work out. And you guessed it- it did!
I travelled around Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Malta with my best friend for 8 weeks, then with some savings still in my pocket, I ventured back to Norway, where I had previously lived as a exchange student. I stayed with my Norwegian bestie and with a Norwegian family I had been an au-pair for while living Oslo, what felt like only-yesterday-ago. Here, only three months into my 'indefinitely traveling the world' plan, I conceded I needed a job.
Luckily for me I had some (a.k.a. a lot of) experience baby-sitting, nannying and au-pairing, having paid my way through high-school and university looking after other people's children. So I jumped back on a website I had found the first time and I was in Norway and updated my profile. I was looking for child-care work anywhere in the world, preferably live-in but the rest was totally negotiable.
Within hours I had several families reach out, but one in particular stood out.
'Hi…We are looking for someone who enjoys traveling, growing, learning and exploring… This year we will be in France, Portugal, Malta, Costa Rica, Mexico and the US…'
I replied straight away and set up a time to video chat as this sounded way too good to be true! A few days later, after speaking to the family on FaceTime and confirming they were in fact real people and not some internet scam, I was flying to the south of France to meet with them.
We hit it off straight away but I still had a few travel plans for the coming weeks so we arranged to meet again in Portugal in almost a month time and that was that. I had a job.
To be completely honest I did umm and ahh about the position for a few days, but quickly came to the realisation that this was exactly what I had been asking for, a chance to travel the world and get paid. Plus I had always wanted to go to Mexico!
The first few weeks with the family were intense, chaotic and all consuming, but we made it through and gradually began to form a real relationship. I was with them 24/7, we were staying together, eating meals together and of course traveling together.
After meeting in Portugal we headed to Paris for a weekend then onto Malta, where we had intended to stay for 2-3 months. I quickly learnt however, that plans were incredibly flexible and could change at a moments notice.
One morning I woke up to my phone pinging telling me we were going to Switzerland at 10am and could I ensure I was ready and downstairs ASAP.
We then spent four weeks in the Swiss mountains.
We had another weekend in Paris, then back to Malta we flew. Another week or so passed and the mosquitoes became so unbearable we packed up and moved to another part of the island. The next morning I woke up to a note on my door explaining that the mosquitoes were just as bad here and the family had moved to a hotel during the night. Could I please pack up and come ASAP! By that evening we were on a plane back to Portugal.
Another month or so went by in Portugal and then we were on a plane to London. A week there and we were driving to Brighton. A few days there and we were back in Portugal. Two weeks later and we were in Spain preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and spend what would be at least three months in Central and Northern America.
By the time we arrived in San Jose I was more than just a nanny, I was a member of the family. We celebrated Christmas and then New Years together on the beach in Costa Rica.
Next thing we were in Mexico, then Las Vegas, Los Angeles and hey we were so close to Hawaii-why not go there!
Often the days were long but the weeks flew by. It wasn't all smooth sailing of course, I had to learn to fit in with another family, learn how to read the children and their parents as well as anticipate their every need. I worked 18 hours some days, changed 1000s of diapers, organized transport, spent hundreds of hours on planes, trains and buses, carried my body weight in their luggage and had to share a bed with a four year old some nights.
But other days were so amazing I never wanted them to end. I drank margaritas in Mexico, swam in dozens of Hawaiian waterfalls, watched baby turtles hatch on the beaches of Costa Rica, hiked through Swiss mountains and ate my body weight in Portuguese tarts in Lisbon. Everywhere I we went I met amazing people who were living their best lives- a Polish linguist, a Brazilian pro-surfer, a Kiwi photographer and a Spanish celebrity chef just to name a few.
After two months in Hawaii an unforeseen family matter and the threat of international lockdowns forced me to say goodbye and fly back to Australia, almost a year to the day since I had left.
Despite its sudden ending, that year of my life has taught me so much about myself and my ability to make my dreams a reality. By leaping into the unknown I have proved to myself again and again that I make my own reality and I have met so many like-minded people who are doing the same.
So, some words of advice if you want to follow in my footsteps… dream big, get organised and be open to anything and everything because you never know what or who is waiting just around the corner, ready to pay for your dream trip to Mexico.
You can also read my articles on Medium https://firstname.lastname@example.org/how-i-got-paid-to-travel-the-world-as-an-international-nanny-3d4fc54b9ed6?sk=44a2f12dbd2b7a4f0cb0d4ccb7ac5bcd
And of course follow my adventures on Instagram @theholistichealthproject