Before you even get started looking into APing, just go ahead and get your passport in order. Once you've taken care of that, we can really get cracking.
Know Before You Go1. Decide on a country with an active AP network. If APing is normal you'll have better support, clearer cut rules and regulations, and a more positive experience. Europe (where APing originated), Canada, the USA, and most major cities world wide have solid AP set ups.
2. Make sure you can legally AP in your country of choice. U.S. citizens cannot AP in several countries do to non-reciprocal visa agreements. (Yay shoddy foreign relations!) It would be most inconvenient for both you and your hostfam if you decided on each other before realizing you can't work for them at all. Save yourself time and heartbreak, and check first.
3. Once you've a location (or several) in mind, you can decide on an agency. As I've said, you aren't required to have an agency, but it's really a poor idea to work without one. Check out several before signing with one. There are usual fees involved. They can range from pocket change to paying for your entire trip, so take a good look at the websites. If you can't find direct information, move on. They're probably those shady van people, I told you about.
Once you've settled on an agency, you'll have to fill out an application for the agency and the potential hostfams. This is not a facebook profile, kids. Be honest. Of course, you can present yourself in a good light, but if you lie it will only cause problems.
1. Be open and honest. On occasion stereotypes can sneak in and confuse potential hostfams, so make sure you clear those up. For me, the first family I talked to had this idea that I was some sort of cowboy because I'm from Texas, and, as we all know, everyone in Texas lives in a desert and is a cowboy. They have two young girls who are very involved in riding, and were excited that I had knowledge of horses and riding. This lasted only up until they talked to me. I'm terrified of horses, ridiculous, I know, but they're large and unpredictable. This threw a huge kink in their plan, and we both had to continue in looking for other options.
2. Be specific. Clearly defines your wants, needs and capabilities. You're a product, so no false advertising. If you could never, ever live within a single father household, write that down. If you would love a family who travels often, write that down. If you are incapable of driving a manual motor vehicle, write that down. Don't be afraid to be honest. Otherwise you could end up with a single father family, never going anywhere, and driving a stick shift. This is bad for you, your hostfam, and the transmission.
3. Be careful. It's all good and well for honesty and specificity, but if you take the above advice too much to heart, you could end up with no hostfam options. They don't need your whole life story. Answer all questions in full, but only answer the question they ask. If you have to give a less than wonderful answer, it would be good to explain, but you don't have to share the entire nitty gritty of your life. Think of it as a first date. You have to save something to share on consecutive dates, or they'll be bored. On the specifics end, only go with the super important things. If you're too picky, you'll rule out most of your options. Remember, you have to be flexible.
Once you're through this part of the ordeal, it's fairly easy going. Unless you're impatient that is because you've now entered the waiting game part of the process.
We'll get to that next time.
Cheers and thanks for reading.