Cultural Exchange

Au Pair Laura’s Epic Road Trip in the USA

At the end of your au pair year, you receive one month to travel all around the USA before going back to your home country. Au pair Laura, from France, took that time to go on an epic road trip!

Laura shared some photos below as well as some smart tips on how to have a successful road trip.

My host family was so happy for me to start my new amazing adventure. I felt loved by my two baby girls and their parents. I loved the way they helped me to be ready and had everything I needed for my fabulous month-long road trip in the western U.S.

Laura’s host family waving goodbye.
Image courtesy of Laura

I had saved money for two years for the trip and decided not to buy any luxury stuff like restaurants or fast food. I put a mattress in my rental car, planned to take showers at the YMCA, and off I went!

Laura embarking on her road trip.
Image courtesy of Laura

I stopped at the Badlands and the Petrified Forest National Park, this purple mud was amazing! I took a hike down and I felt like I understood many, many things about our planet and its history. Nature is wonderful, magical. You drive not that much and you find totally different lands. I passed by the mystic Route 66 too.

The Petrified Forest National Park.
Image courtesy of Laura

Next was the famous Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It is the property of the Native Americans and you must be careful because if it’s raining miles away, there is a risk of flash flood. It was a wonderful but fast experience because so many people were there too.

Antelope Canyon.
Image courtesy of Laura

Did you know the highest point in Bryce Canyon is around 9,000 feet or 2,500 meters? Crazy, you would never think. That’s why I decided I didn’t want to stay the night there. It was going to be so cold. I did many hikes down the beautiful, majestic canyon and drove up to Utah because a snow storm was coming my way. I stopped by a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, asked for hot water for my instant noodles and I slept in the van in the parking lot while the snow was falling. I got back on the road the morning after.

Bryce Canyon.
Image courtesy of Laura

In Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, I saw wonderful Native American constructions in the rocks from many years ago. So impressive and talented!

Mesa Verde National Park.
Image courtesy of Laura

Nature is powerful! I only hiked two miles along the Grand Canyon but it is so enormous! By now, I’d seen many canyons already but the Grand Canyon is so GRAND! I want to come back and hike down the canyon to camp there. For sure, I’ll come back. I slept in Grand Canyon National Park and was the first to wake up.

The Grand Canyon.
Image courtesy of Laura

Zion National Park is so impressive! I wish I had more time to visit it all. I went on many crazy beautiful hikes and had the perfect temperature for hiking. Thanks, Mother Nature!

Zion National Park.
Image courtesy of Laura

I stopped at Malibu Beach from one of the TV shows I watched for many years with my siblings. I didn’t see Pamela Anderson, but I got funny pictures.

Malibu Beach.
Image courtesy of Laura

I arrived at night in San Francisco and ate dinner in front of the Golden Gate bridge. I really felt in love with San Francisco already! I walked in the city and found a French thing every French people is curious of- the blue house. The house is in a famous French song from Maxime Le Forestier, it is called La Maison Bleue.

Laura in San Francisco.
Image courtesy of Laura

I loved the viewpoint of the city of San Francisco on Twin Peaks but I locked my car keys in the rental car at sunset! I asked people if they had AAA Assistance to get me back in my car, and nice people had it. They let me rest in their car until the assistance man came because it was cold!

Lombard street was crazy but amazing, the cable car with the red road was fabulous, better than in my childhood dreams. Muir Beach was crazy beautiful! I loved San Francisco!

Laura’s Road Trip Tips

  • Use WiFi in McDonald’s and Walmart.
  • Buy dry noodles for 45 cents a box.
  • Join the YMCA membership which was $13 for three months. You can go to all of the YMCAs in the country. I got my showers there!
  • I bought the National Park Annual pass which was $80 but I sold it to someone after for $40.
  • Rent a big car that can fit a mattress to stay in.
  • Have a cooler for food and drinks.
  • Bring a charger bank for your electronics.
  • Make sure to always have at least half a tank of gas in your car.
  • Always stop at the visitors center at the entrance of any parks to make your planning.
  • Buy gas using cash, it’s less expensive.
  • Download offline maps on Google maps.
  • Keep a bag for your garbage so you can respect nature.
  • Don’t forget to smile and say hi to hikers around you.
  • Keep traveling and opening your mind!

Joy Lo

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.