Erika has traveled to and lived in many countries because she thinks the world is cool. Starting at age 18, she has lived in, or traveled to, 30 countries. Before she settled down to raise her family and publish her books, she worked as an au pair. Now she’s focusing on teaching children about at least some of the places she’s lived and traveled.
Her first book, Mission to Australia, is about an intrepid foursome of young travelers visiting Australia. The group of children is interesting in its own right since one of the travelers must use a wheelchair, but is undaunted by difficult places to access. The group represents many different cultures and ethnicities.
Questions for Erika
What compelled you to dream of visiting and living in different countries? Honestly, I have no idea. I did not grow up around people traveling to other countries. I just thought it sounded interesting and after visiting my first country, I enjoyed learning about the culture, history, and seeing the new sites so much that I wanted to see as many as possible.
How did you become an au pair? What hoops did you have to jump through to? There was a program I found online. It was a long time ago, so I don’t remember the details, but I know I requested to be an Au Pari in Spain. I believe I was provided with some information about families who were interested in me, and it was up to me to select. My grandma spoke Spanish so she spoke to them, and that was it. I requested the time off with my boss and I headed to Madrid.
Did you have a friend who inspired you? Or did a book lead you in that direction? Neither. I did not have any friends or family who traveled abroad. In fact, several of my families asked me why I wanted to go out of the country. I really have no idea what inspired me. I’m assuming seeing certain movies or pictures of places around.
Did you have to convince your parents that it would be safe for you to pursue this dream? Yes, but I was 18 when I first traveled, so there wasn’t much they could do to stop me. So, they chose to support me instead.
How did you pick the countries you wanted to visit? If you’re referring to Spain specifically, I didn’t do a lot of research. I just knew I wanted to go and since I had the program looking out for me, I thought it was a safe option. For countries since Spain, I research how safe it is, the best time to travel based on the weather, and what sites I want to see / experiences I want to have (i.e., all tourist sites, more cultural experiences, art, etc.)
What research did you do about the countries you wanted to visit?
I chose Spain because I believed I was Spanish (only recently learned I am Mexican) and I wanted to learn more about my heritage. After that, I started looking into the countries that I had heard about from people I have met on my travels, through people I have met through FB/FB groups, and now through my travel podcast.
What were your duties? It honestly wasn’t a good experience, so I usually don’t go into details as I don’t want to deter others from doing it. I honestly don’t believe my situation was the norm. I was supposed to teach the children English, but I only did this once. The rest of the time was spent cleaning and taking care of the kids. I believe my host family took advantage of au pairs, unfortunately.
Do you still keep in touch with the families? No.
Did you stick to just English-speaking countries? If not, did you already know the host country language? I spoke a little Spanish because of what I had learned in high school, but I was not fluent. I definitely spoke better Spanish when I came back though!
When you decided to be an author/publisher, did you go to school to learn how? My degree is in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I did not go to school specifically to be an author/publisher. I spent a long time doing my own research, joining author/publishing groups, taking online courses, and asking a lot of questions. Luckily, there are some authors/publishers who are happy to help new authors/publishers.
And do you plan to do more traveling with your family? What was your son’s reaction to visiting other countries? I believe you said he’d already visited two. Oh yes! We just got back from two weeks in Ireland. He had a wonderful time and came back with so many memories and experiences. When we asked him his top three experiences, he could only narrow it down to eight. Now we talk about him possibly doing summer camp in another country. We still have a long time to think about that, but that’s how much he loved the experience.
My son was only five when I first took him out of the country, so he doesn’t remember it as much, but he loves looking at the pictures and I know it’s helped to make him interested in other countries and cultures.
What is the next book in the series? Ireland!
And, lastly where are you and your family going next? This is tough because we keep getting different ideas, but I think it’s going to be southern Italy.