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Birthdays while travelling

Four years. Four birthdays. Four celebrations.

Of my 28 birthdays, I’ve spent four abroad and it’s been great. It’s interesting to celebrate in other countries, with new friends and in foreign languages.

Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Italy have all hosted my birthday celebrations (Italy twice) and they been as different as you could expect.
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Switzerland’s Glacier Express

Switzerland is well known for it’s trains. Efficient, punctual and comfortable, the only thing to not like is the price! For just an hour and a half InterRegio train direct from Berne to Zurich, it will cost 47 Swiss Francs (€37 or US$52)! Most things in Switzerland are expensive so if you want to travel in Switzerland on a budget, you have to look out for the deals.
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Not a Cinderella story: my misadventures au pairing in Switzerland

Moving abroad to work as an au pair (or a nanny or live-in babysitter) is a common way for university-aged people to experience a new culture, make a bit of money and have something to do for a summer or longer.

Many young people do it and enjoy it but quite a few have bad experiences that make them leave before their contract is over. I fell into the latter category when I was an au pair in Switzerland.
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6 tips for future au pairs

My first trip overseas was to Switzerland to au pair for a family with four children and it was not at all what I expected.

Au pairing is similar to being a nanny, but nannies usually care for kids as their career and au pairs are usually in their 20s, taking a break before, during or after university and go for a cultural experience more so than just to work. I was 20 and it was great to see a different part of the world, but if I could go back, I would change a lot.
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Working in a foreign land: hostels

When traveling long-term, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to settle down in one place and unpack your bag.  Even if you are just traveling for a few weeks, finding a place to volunteer can feel like moving temporarily and can be a unique travel experience.  Hostels sometimes offer to house volunteers in exchange for a few hours of work each day. Taking advantage of this probably won’t earn you any money (although some pay a small stipend) but you probably won’t spend much money, either.  If you can find the right hostel that suits your personality, it can make for an interesting time and you can feel like a local on your trip!
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