Packing For Traveling With Kids

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Traveling with kids? Let the kids have some input and travel like a pro!

As soon as our kids could pull a suitcase or carry a backpack we always included them in the travel experience by having them take responsibility for at least some of their own gear. Especially in an airport this can make your life easier but be prepared to offer a hand if your child gets tired of carrying the items you’ve given them. My priority is to ensure they learn to love traveling not dogmatically make them carry their own gear.

Packing a Suitcase – Always pack things they like to wear. It’s no fun to have a suitcase full of clothing or shoes and have your child say they won’t wear them, so avoid this issue and pack what they like. Better yet, give them a list of things they need to pack [you can alter this list based on your child’s age/ability] and help them identify the items they love to wear – and pack those. Always pack an extra set of clothing and a little more warmth than they kids think they will need.

You can find child size suitcases at a local department store, Target, Amazon.com or at high end travel stores such as Patagonia.com. 

Packing a Backpack – The backpack has the items your kids need to have with them for comfort [e.g., a bankie or other cuddly toy for comfort] and for entertainment. The pack should be their size and fit comfortably. This is true if you are packing for a car ride or an airplane ride. When our kids were young we had things we always did for them like wrapping a few new toys for them to unwrap in the airplane. These can be simple, but engaging. Now we never leave the house for a trip without a sketchbook, art supplies, and an iPad [preferably loaded with a movie and some games since you cannot count on wifi on planes and certainly not in the car]. We also like to pack things like a hackysack or soccer ball for when we land or on a layover. Entertainment is key!

You can find child size backpacks at online retailers such as LLBean.com. I like these because they last forever! You can get fancy and have their initials or name embroidered on if you have time. The younger kids love this! 

Please share any packing and travel tips! Enjoy your family travels!

 

Get A Free Shutterfly Photo Book!

You know you’ve been meaning to create a photo book to document your family’s travels and experiences! The kids grow up so quickly!  Here is how to get a photo book:

  1. Sign-up for a free Similac account. Once you do this they will send you a coupon code to purchase a free book to your email.

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2. Then load up this code to Shutterfly so you have it ready when you are. Load your code on here.

3. Make your book! It is not hard to do. Just create an account and upload photos. Then use their easy to use photo book tools to make an awesome book.

Thanks to DansDeals for pointing out this great Shutterfly opportunity!

Get Your Family On Their Bikes for Boulder’s Winter Bike Week!

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Boulder Families – It’s Almost Winter Bike Week! Maybe this can be your family’s challenge to get on those bikes this winter. Bike to work. Bike to school. Bike around town. Bike in the winter!

All Boulder residents are encouraged to participate in Winter Bike Week from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29. This week-long event is a partnership between The City of Boulder, Boulder County, the Boulder Valley School District and the University of Colorado. The event is coordinated by Community Cycles.

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Riders register as individuals or as part of a team to track bike trips and earn recognition and prizes. Registered riders will also enjoy free breakfasts and snacks along their routes [on 1/27] as well as pastries along the bike path [1/29].- check for food locations here.

For more information and to register go to lovetoride.net/boulder.

Kid Friendly Vail, Colorado

Awesome playground in Vail at Lionshead

Awesome playground in Vail at Lionshead

“What Is There To Do With Kids In Vail?” Is Vail, Colorado family-friendly?

Vail doesn’t always conjure up the image of happy families skipping through Vail Village. If your kids are not old enough to ski or you are looking for options when they are not skiing these suggestions will help you get dialed in to the family-friendly Vail scene. Most weekends there is something going on in Vail. During the winter season they offer free live music with big name acts, fireworks, tree lighting, and lots more. Check the Vail Events Calendar for details of what’s coming up.

Vail is our family’s favorite ski mountain. Sure there are tons of mountains to ski in the mountains of Colorado, but Vail gives us lots of diverse terrain, a great park and pipe area, back bowls, trees, groomers and lots more to entertain everyone in the family! The food is expensive and buying a ticket at the counter is very expensive indeed. Last weekend it was $165 for the day for adults which is not so family-friendly, but if you think ahead and get a pass it’s a great spot for the family.

Skiing is the obvious option for families in Vail, but I want to point out the other fun things to do in Vail with your family as a day off or after skiing.

Playgrounds:

  • Our favorite is the pirate ship playground in Vail Village. This is located just to the left of the Gondola, right at the base of the slope, through Vail Village. This ship is great year around and you will always see kids playing on it rain, snow or sun.
  • Another option is the funky playground at Lions Head, located just above the ice skating rink.

Other Things To Do:

  • Ice Skate at Solaris. Kids and adults can have fun skating all day and into the night at this cool skate rink close to Vail Village.
  • Ice Skate at Lions Head. Located in Lions Head Village at Vail, this is another fun ice rink for the whole family.
  • Adventure Ridge. This is family fun on the mountain where you can choose snow mobile riding, serious sledding, bungee jumping, and XXX. Expensive, but a blast for the kids!
  • Bol. This is high tech, over the top, bowling at its best. Kids and adults have a blast here. Reserve a lane ahead of time. You can order pizza, drinks, lane side. Expensive, but very entertaining.
  • Fuzzywigs candy store. This is always a fun place to take the kids. This is just in Vail Village.
  • The Vail Library. This is an under utilized resource for families. With programs like Toddler and Preschooler Story Time, Après-Ski Puppetry, games, art projects, and wifi, the Vail Library is a chill and fun place for all kinds of kids. Free.
  • Colorado Ski Museum. If your kids are old enough to appreciate the history of skiing and snowboarding the museum has some great displays and videos showing the 10th Mountain Division and the progression of the sports of skiing and snowboarding. Free.
  • Cinnebistro. Dine and watch at the Cinnebistro at Solaris just outside of Vail Village. Kids love it! It’s not cheap, but the memories last of being served right at your seat in a movie theater. Moderate to Expensive.
  • Take a Walk Along The River. Take a walk along the river in Vail Village. There are beautiful statues, ice carvings, and lots to look at. Free.
  • Vail Events Calendar. This calendar from Vail.com gives you the scoop on upcoming events and activities on and around the mountain. Most events are free. http://www.vail.com/events/event-calendar.aspx

Vail is a super fun family destination. Ski. Skate. Play. Watch a Movie. Learn. Bowl. Sled. Have fun!

#Vail #Colorado #Family #Vacation #Kids #Children

How To Find A Hotel Room For Half The Amex Membership Rewards Points!

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Photo courtesy of SPG Hotels and the Aloft Hotel Phoenix

Book a hotel for half the Amex Membership Rewards points! If you have an American Express card then you earn valuable Membership Reward points [MR]. These can help with purchasing from Amazon, Home Depot, as well as traveling. I am focused on travel!

When you use Amex points you have a few different ways to book your travel. The first is to use the Amex travel portal. The second is to transfer points between Amex and one of their travel partners [e.g., SPG,  Delta, etc…]. These are both good options depending on what your travel plans call for. Mine call for a hotel in Phoenix, AZ since my son will be competing in a soccer tournament there in February and we are staying an extra night to check out Phoenix!

Even though I am going to use American Express MR points to secure a hotel for us the cost in points is very different. The take home is that you need to compare options to maximize your valuable points. In this scenario I saved half my points for the same room.

My son loves the Aloft hotels. They happen to be an SPG property. I know I can book these through Amex. Time to do some research! Here is what I found:

Option 1: Use Travel Portal at Amex. Here I can purchase the night I need through the travel portal at a cost $159 [same as I could buy directly on the Aloft website] or 22,714 Amex Membership Rewards points. Aloft Room = 22,714 MR points

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Option 2: Transfer Amex Points To SPG. The SPG site says the number of points needed for a room at the Aloft for the night I need is 3,000. On the Amex site MR points transfer at a rate of 1,000 MRs to 333 SPG points. It turns out I need 10,000 MRs to get 3,333 SPG points for the room [Now I will have a few extra SPG points, but that’s just how it works]. Aloft Room = 10,000 MR points

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I am going for Option 2! I get the same room for less than half the MR points! For the same room I could pay 10,000 Membership Rewards points or 22,714 Membership Rewards points. My choice is clear! I will transfer points to my SPG account and only be out 10k MR points. I’m headed off to book my room now…

 

2016 Free Days Announced

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There is such thing as a free lunch! Yup, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District funds free days throughout the year at all sorts of awesome family-friendly places such as:

  • Denver Zoo
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Denver Art Museum [this one is FREE every day for kids under 18!]
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • Longmont History Museum
  • Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum

Check out their listing of Free Days at SCFD.

These days can be so welcome for families with small children – especially in the winter. Take them to the Denver Botanic Gardens and let them run around and explore nature indoors and outdoors. Take them to the Denver Zoo and bundle up for a fun escapade to see these unique animals. Take them to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and you can stay all day checking out the interactive exhibits and even catch an IMAX movie [not free].

 

Super Science Saturday at NCAR Puts the Fun Into Science!

Super Science Saturday is this Saturday, November 7, 2015.

Super Science Saturday is such a fun family-friendly Boulder event! Bring on your littlest and biggest science explorers for a fun filled day from 10 am – 4 pm. This annual event at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) brings kids and adults together to explore hands-on activities, think about new ideas, and learn about science. This year’s theme is “LIGHT”!

Activities and Events:

Location: NCAR Mesa Lab at 1850 Table Mesa, Boulder, CO 80305. 
See the map for more location details. 

Date/Time: Saturday, November 7, 2015 from 10am to 4pm

Get more details on Super Science Saturday: http://scied.ucar.edu/events/2015-super-science-saturday

Got an Amex Business Card? Support Small Biz and Save $20 from Amex

You can support small, local businesses AND save $20 when you spend $100 now through 11/28/15. If you have an American Express Business Card [or a few] you will need to register the card for this promotion, spend $100 in one purchase at a store Amex shows as local [Grand Rabbits, Satellite, B Town Wine and Spirits, and so many more!], then you will magically get a $20 statement credit. Free $20 – thank you, American Express!

Here is how to get your $20 statement credit:

  1. Register your businesses card [you need to sign in before using the link] – follow this link 
  2. Find a participating small business – here is the small business map
  3. Spend $100 in one purchase by 11/28/15
  4. Watch for your statement credit. In the past I have received a notification immediately that I had a qualified purchase and Amex was applying a $20 credit.
  5. I registered both of my Amex cards [both primary and secondary cards on one account], so don’t forget to register all of your cards.

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Ghosts. Goblins. Halloween Celebrations in Boulder for the Kiddos.

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Where to go. What do to with your kiddos on Halloween. Boulder has options! Here are a few of the best ones around…

What will you do with your kids on Halloween? Share your best resources here so we all know what to do and where to go.

Pearl Street Mall’s Annual Munchkin Masquerade – Each Halloween, Downtown Boulder is invaded by thousands of tiny ghosts & goblins, dinosaurs & dragons, fairies & princes, super heroes and animals of every size, trick-or-treating along Pearl Street. 2 to 4pm, rain or shine on the Pearl Street Mall. More information here. October 31, 2015 for safe and fun trick-or-treating along the Mall.

Fairview High School’s Trick or Treat Street – Fairview High School opens it’s doors to young trick or treaters. They decorate the hallways and hand out candy in the rooms. Fun for the small kiddos! More info here. October 28, 2015 from 5 to 7:30pm.

South Boulder Recreation Center’s Halloween Carnival – Celebrate Halloween with active, indoor family fun! Join the fun at the SBRC from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. $5 per child (ages 3 to 8) includes all activities such as carnival games, crafts, face painting, prizes, snacks and more! Wear your costume! More details here or Online Registration

Colorado Railroad Museum’s Trick or Treat Train – The Railroad Halloween Town is a safe place to enjoy Halloween. Catch a ride behind the historic locomotive in vintage passenger cars hosted by conductors and engineers in full costume. The Trick or Treat  Visit all the Town’s special stops to fill your treat bags and tickle your funny bones. Try a visit to our “not so spooky” haunted railcar or the Olde Railroaders silly graveyard. And, get a great picture of your costume as you pause in front of our Pumpkin Patch. Train departs every 30 minutes between 10:00AM and 4:00PM. Museum Members and children under 2 are free, $5 for children (2-15), $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (over 60). More info here.