Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!


Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

My family loves traveling! For us it is infinitely better when that travel is free/cheap. It just feels good! Here is one way our family of four has managed to make travel really affordable – we Airbnb our house whenever we are gone. Yup, we “move out” of our house for as short as a 3 day stay. It can be scary to step into the sharing economy and invite other people into your house I get it, but with a little trust most people are really happy with the results.

Renting our house on Airbnb made us feel like we hit the jackpot!

A Recent Airbnb Cheap Travel Example

My kids want to learn to surf. We live in Colorado. Let’s go to San Diego! We booked tickets early so got a great deal on Southwest [we had points to burn from a credit card sign up] and booked our return using miles on United. So no direct cost for travel. We then rented a car – we used Amex points for 1/2 the car so it was super reasonable [cost us

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

$130 for the week]. We rented a house in Encinitas, a block to the beach, for $250/night which turned out to be one of our biggest expenses. This is where it gets good – we concurrently rented our house in Boulder for $250/night. This was basically a wash though we paid a bit to Airbnb for the transaction on both ends. The costs for our week surfing trip – above our normal expenses – was surf lessons and 1/2 the car. And a few t-shirts the kids picked up along the way. This works for me – I’m ready to book another trip pronto!

Here is how you can make Airbnb work for your family

We hosted our first Airbnb guest last summer. It was a leap of faith but we were traveling for six weeks [internationally] and it just seemed one of our biggest resources was going to be left on the table. We jumped in with both feet and listed!

Then we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Then it happened, someone reached out about renting for a week. I looked up their profile and she had just joined Airbnb and had no reviews. Yikes! We exchanged emails multiple time and finally I felt comfortable accepting her housing request.


Get your property listed

  1. List your property on Airbnb. It’s free and easy to list your property. You need to take some photos and think about exactly how you want to describe your property. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be honest. What is great about your location? Are there any drawbacks? Don’t advertise something you don’t have. Remember people will rate you and good ratings are the key to success in this endeavor.
  2. Set your price. This is a bit tricky. Do some research. Look around on Airbnb for houses near you. What are they listing their places for? Does the price fluctuate based on events nearby? What price would make it feel fair for you to move out and share your home with others? It’s not a science – trust your gut.
  3. Set your calendar. List the dates your home is available and the price for those dates. For example, during the Ironman in Boulder, CO, the prices can be set higher as there are no hotels available in the city.
  4. Do you need a rental license? In a lot of cities they are starting to make anyone renting their space out get a rental license – even for short-term rentals. If you are only renting once or twice your compliance is up to you. In Boulder, CO it costs $130 for a rental license for four [4] years – not too bad.
  5. Make a plan for getting your home organized/cleaned. We only rent out 3 of our 4 bedrooms so we can keep one for our stuff. We put a lock on the door to the extra bedroom. When we have renters, everyone gets a moving box, and then empty their rooms of valuables, things that are sentimental, and their closets. These boxes are packed up and put in the locked bedroom. We use one size box and make it super simple. We declutter and organize somewhat so it’s easy for anyone to enjoy the house. We hire a cleaning person to clean after we leave before anyone rents.
  6. Have a local contact. When we were out of the country we had a local friend act as the renters’ contact person. They were on call if anyone needed them and they walked through the house between renters to make sure it was all in order after the cleaners came in.
  7. Review your guests. Airbnb will ask you to review your guests. Your guests will also review you. This is a very important step in the sharing economy process – making things transparent. The guest won’t see your review until they have reviewed you, so feel free to be honest. I like to focus on the positive, but I won’t hesitate to mention something that could be improved. When you review each other, your reviews will then be public for everyone to read. Having positive reviews will increase your traffic and interest in your property.

Get the kids bought in! 

Our boys are okay with this plan as they have done it for a long time. They think it’s normal.  When we started renting out our house when we traveled we offered that we would give our boys something they wanted if we rented the house out for X days. It worked. They cleaned their rooms out well and spent the time rooting for us to get that extra week. We did get that extra week and we rewarded our kids!

Dream about your vacation!

If you don’t already have a vacation planned, head over to Airbnb or Trip Advisor and poke around. They have great suggestions and ideas of what to do in all these locations. I got a 10 page booklet about what to do in and around San Diego when we booked our trip to Encinitas. Also, hosts offer guidebooks which often tell you a lot about what to do in and around their property. It can be a helpful process as you clarify your travel plans.

Please share your experiences!

Have you had experiences sharing/renting your family home? Would you do it again? Are their other options beyond Airbnb and VRBO that are family friendly? Please share!

Questions about family travel, how to Airbnb your place, or anything else, give me a shout at Email Amanda


Free [or practically free] Skiing/Snowboarding in Colorado for ALL 5th and 6th Graders


Skiing/Snowboarding Is Free [or almost free] in Colorado! Calling all 5th and 6th graders – you can ski 60+ days this winter for free [or close to free] at 20 Colorado resorts! If you are thinking of skiing/snowboarding in Colorado AND you have a 5th or 6th grader, you are in luck!

The Colorado Passport program is for you – even if you don’t live in Colorado. Live in Massachusetts and want to ski/board in Colorado – your 5th grader skis free. Live in California and you want to ski/board in Colorado – your 6th grader skis almost free. As long as you can prove your child is a 5th or 6th grader they qualify for the 5th & 6th Grade Passport Program! 


Here is how the 5th & 6th Grade Colorado Passport Program works:


  1. Register your 5th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Ski up to 60 days. That’s right your 5th grader can ski 3 times at all of 20 resorts including: Winter Park, Copper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]!


  1. Register your 6th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Register by November 30, 2016 and pay $105 to ski 80 days. That’s right, your 6th grader can ski 4 times at all of the 20 resorts including: Winter ParkCopper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]! You can still register through January 31, 2017, but the cost goes up to $125. This is still a screaming deal if your child qualifies!

PARENTS/ADULTS/KIDS [Not 5th & 6th graders]

The best way to get a deal on skiing in Colorado [if you aren’t a 5th or 6th grader] is to purchase a pass at any of the mountains at which you plan to ski. People in Colorado know, it makes sense to get a pass. The walk up prices at some of our amazing mountains can easily be over $150/day. I am not kidding! Here are some ideas of passes that might work in conjunction with the Colorado Passport:

Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk: Get a Classic Pass which give you 4-7 days at a serious discount with no blackouts from $199+

Winterpark: Get a Season Pass ahead of time for $429/adults and $249/kids. This also gives you 10 family/friend passes at $69 – $89/day, so maybe you just buy one pass and use the benefits to purchase cheap tickets for other adults skiing with you.

Copper Mountain: Try a Copper 4 Pack for $169/kids & adults. It’s a deal!


screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-40-38-amNeed more ideas for how to get your family skiing in Colorado for cheap? Give me a shout – I’m happy to help! -Amanda

Colorado Elementary School Kids: Get 16 free days of skiing at Vail Mountains with their Epic School Kids program

#Skiing #Free #Kids #Families #Colorado #Winter #Snowboarding

Family-Friendly Halloween Events – In and Around Boulder


Halloween is around the corner! Can’t wait? Don’t know what kids do on Halloween around Boulder? Take a look at what’s brewing…

  • Munchkin Masquerade: Head to the Pearl Street Mall for safe & fun trick or treating! Each year, 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.  Recommended for children ages 12 and under. More info here
  • Halloween Journey: Truly a magical, one-of-a-kind, halloween experience for kids! The Boulder Valley Waldorf School campus is transformed into a magical world through which children and parents may travel. The individual presentations touch hearts with messages of wisdom and humor, and images of light that will live on through the cold and dark season of the year. This enchanting experience is lovely alternative to the popular and often gory Halloween experience of modern culture. Purchase tickets ahead of time – they sell out! More info here
  • Longmont Halloween Parade and Trick or Treat Street: Fun parade for all ages! Dress up in your Halloween Costume, march on Main Street and visit Downtown participating merchants for Trick or Treat Street immediately following the parade. Kids of all ages can be a part of this costume foot parade. No registration is required!  Strollers or wagons are recommended for tiny feet. Dogs must be leashed. 9:30 am Line-up in front of the St. Vrain Memorial Building, 700 Longs Peak Ave. 10:00 am Foot Parade Start!  Come in costume! More info here
  • Louisville’s Monster Dash: A kids fun run, 5k and 10k
    Come enjoy 2 fast, trail courses out on the Coal Creek Trails of Louisville. The 5k Fun Run will have just a 175 foot elevation gain out East on the trail, and the 10k Trail Race will head West on the trail through 3 parks, a small pond and some single-track…..look out for the Witches. More info here
  • Louisville Halloween Festival and Trick-or-Treat: Trick or treating & activities for the whole family! The 6th Annual Halloween Festival will feature over 25 vendors, arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, Witch “Crafts” and games inside the Pinball Shoppe. Post event activities will include BBQ Hot Dogs, costume contests and post Party at Pinball Shoppe. Kids Trick-or-Treating is in Old Town from 5pm-6pm with more stores providing activities and treats this year. More info here

What else is out there for kids and families on Halloween? Where are you going? What are you doing? Let me know and I’ll make sure to help get the word out about all the great family-friendly Halloween events around town.

ALL Colorado K-5th Grade Kids Get 16 days of FREE Skiing! Find out how…

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Elementary kids in Colorado – It’s your lucky day! Colorado elementary school kids don’t have to wait until they are in 5th/6th grade to get their own ski pass – Vail Resorts’ Epic School Kids now offers FREE skiing to ALL elementary school children.

The catch? Get your kids registered by October 8, 2016!


Epic School Kids is a FREE program for Kindergarten through 5th graders that provides skiing and riding at some of Colorado’s best areas – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone. That means 4 days of FREE Skiing at each area or 16 days in all.

The pass also includes one FREE first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.


The following are blackout dates: 11/25/16-11/26/16, 12/26/16-12/31/16, 1/14/17 and 2/18/17-2/19/17


Parents can take their children to a participating Front Range Colorado Ski & Golf, or Boulder Ski Deals location to register their child in person. In Boulder – just head to Boulder Ski Deals. Take a look at what you need to bring below.

Want more details? Epic School Kids

Family Travel: Paris over Christmas for under $500 on United

Want to go to Europe? United Airlines is offering fares for under $500 to Paris from Denver over the holidays. Paris for Christmas anyone? If you’ve been thinking about going to France this may be the time to make it happen.

Here is a search from December 19th to the 28th. You can find different dates around the same time that work. Go to the search on Momondo to find these deals. Click here for the Momondo site. Let it load fully to see the deal. Then you can change dates and times to get the flight you prefer.






If you have an Epic ski pass [Vail Resorts] you can ski at some European ski areas for free this winter. This includes France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Get the scoop on skiing Europe on your Epic pass here.

Will your family be heading to Europe this winter?

My Family Scored 4 Round Trip Tickets for Under $150!

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What summer isn’t complete [when you live in landlocked Colorado] without spending time in the ocean? So my family of four decided to head to San Diego for a week of surfing. And we are doing it for around $50 [total of fees paid for all tickets] plus a $95 annual fee, so a total cost of $145. How? We signed up for a credit card through Southwest Airlines, spent $2,000 on the card and viola – we are heading to surf this summer! My favorite part is that we have lots of flexibility in our itinerary – just in case something changes – and there aren’t tons of extra fees like we would pay with other low cost airlines. Flexibility and No Extra Fees = Awesome!

I value these tickets at around $200/piece so I would say we got approximately $800 of value out of one single credit card sign up. Is this the best credit card perk I have ever received? No. But it is up there. Southwest points are really valuable!

I decided to get the Southwest card after I flew to Phoenix for a soccer tournament and realized what a great option they are. Their prices were good. The points they charge are usually reasonable compared to the general market. And the most important part to me and my family – Southwest tickets are ultra flexible. As long as you cancel or change your ticket within 10 Minutes of departure time there are no fees involved on Southwest. No fees – they just redeposit your points or refund your dollars. On United we would pay a $150 change fee each or over $100 to put our points back in our account if we were not taking that same route in the future. Flexibility rocks for Family Travel! 

One trick on Southwest – book your tickets as early as possible. I’ve found tickets for as low 5,500 points to travel Denver to Seattle or 7,000 points Denver to San Diego. Round trip for under 15,000 points – I’m in – but reserve them early! 

Do you like flying Southwest? Any tips or tricks for getting the most out of flying Southwest?

Living With Kids: Design Mom Explores the Intersection of Modern Living and Raising a Family

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Photo Credit: Design Mom

I am inspired by Design Mom‘s series – Living With Kids. This is an ongoing series where Design Mom takes you on a photographic tour of different families with children, their homes, their design sense, their stories, and how all these aspects of life weave together to create each unique family situation. It is so simple and yet so compelling to read the Living With Kids series. You get to catch a glimpse of someone else’s complicate, beautiful, intense, awesome, family life. Sort of voyeuristic, butnot in a creepy way!

Take a minute out of your day and take a tour of families in the series Living With Kids: www.designmom.com/category/living-with-kids-house-tour/

What do you think of theseScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.54.58 AM photojournalistic tours of the world of raising our families? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


#Boulder #Design #Kids

Enjoy Family Fun – All Summer Long With Meadow Music

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Hey Boulder Families – Don’t miss out on live, educational, engaging music at Chautauqua this summer! Meadow Music is an award winning environmental education program offered for free in Boulder, Colorado. Join Jeff & Paige for FREE concerts and a hike throughout the summer at Chautauqua. Meadow Music happens most Monday evenings in the summer from June-August.

This event is free to the public thanks to the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Division!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.24.25 AM

Meadow Music Details: Meet at 5:30pm to start a short hike that’s friendly to all ages – Map Here.  The hike takes about 30 minutes because of all the little legs that join it, but all ages should be able to accomplish the task. Along the way we’ll look for our color of the week and at the end our hike we’ll sing a song to bring out our animal of the week–Coyote Bob, Ranger Paula, or The Black Bear…

After the hike you will return to the Chautauqua Green for a concert full of Jeff & Paige’s original nature and science-based music. The concert starts around 6:00pm and ends by about 7:00. Bring a blanket to sit on, a picnic and some silliness.

Read more about Meadow Music here.

For a full concert calendar and to plan your next visit to Meadow Music visit the calendar.

#Boulder #Colorado #Getoutdoors

Why I Am Getting My Kids Outdoors This Summer!


Boulder County is a mecca of outdoor activities. Why is it that we parents find ourselves begging our kids to get off technology on a regular basis? At least I do. I love getting my kids out the door and into the backyard, on a hike, on their mountain bikes, or anywhere other than indoors as often as possible!

The summer is a great time to get the kids outside and engaged in authentic learning opportunities – the kind that present themselves all the time in the outdoors. I get the brochures for STEM and engineering focused camps and these all look amazing, but I say summer is a time to get outside, leave the traditional classroom behind, and explore a more authentic and engaging “classroom” in the outdoors. This summer I’m getting my kids out the door and learning more about themselves through outdoor experiences! It is time to get our kids out the door and into the outdoors this summer!

Authentic outdoor education programs offer our kids incredible opportunities to push themselves and develop the whole person by allowing them to:

  • Be without technology and fully engage!
  • Build confidence and grit doing things things that are fun but tough!
  • Be bold and try new things! 
  • Engage in healthy risk taking – the activities have high perceived risk, but low real danger!

The outdoors is a seriously powerful tool for personal growth and empowerment for our kids! I want my kids to face challenges and learn that they can push through them. I want my kids to have to engage fully by leaving all the distractions of technology behind. I also know with two boys they need outlets for taking risks in a healthy environment. I believe these are all best accomplished through purposeful engagement in outdoor adventures. This is why I’m turning to some engaging outdoor opportunities for my kids this summer. Let the outdoors be their teacher!

There are so many ways to get our kids going – even at really young ages! Think of the options: Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Biking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Hiking, Mountaineering, and many many more! Get the kids out there however you do it – on your own or with a camp program this summer. Of course it depends on how old your kids are and their innate interests, but you can find so many opportunities for authentic learning in the outdoors around Boulder County!

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Photo Credit to Avid4 Adventure

I did some research and I found Avid4 Adventure. I knew they were around but I had not really looked at outdoor camps until now. This summer my 12 year old will be rock climbing with Avid 4 – scaling walls and meeting new friends. He will be scaling walls and pushing himself beyond the limits he currently perceives. He will be getting out of his comfort zone. He will be getting scraped up. He will be exhausted when he gets home after long hikes to climbing spots. I believe he will come back each day with his cup full of life and ready for more adventures. Here’s to summer outdoor adventures! 

More details about Avid4 Adventure in case you think your kids are ready for an outdoor challenge this summer. They offer really professional programs and believe in authentic education through outdoor adventures. Avid4 offers day and overnight programs for all outdoor enthusiast kids and those who just want to dip their toes in the water so to speak. I love Avid4’s philosophy and professionalism! Check out their great general [kids try a little of everything] and sport specific outdoor programs for kids pre-K through 11th grade at their two Boulder County bases of operation:

Avid4 Adventure offers camps out of two local locations that may be interesting for Boulder Families – Boulder Camps and Lafayette Camps @ Avid4 Adventure

Are your kids going to camp this summer? Any great outdoor learning experiences to share with the rest of us?

#Kids #SummerCamp #Summer #Boulder #GetOutdoors

You Can Still “Google It” When Traveling Out Of The Country: Otherwise I’d be lost half the time!

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It’s hard to imagine life before Google Maps. Wondering how long it will take between one location and the other? Google it. Wondering how bad the traffic is? Google it. But what about when we are traveling and have limited data plans? Can you use Google then? Yes!

How To Use Google Maps With Limited Data

The great news is Google Maps can be used by turning on your data plan briefly. Googling your location and where you wish to go. Once Google has located you and your desired location then you can turn off data. Yup, just turn it off. Your phone has a GPS built in and even with data turned off you can still use the Google Map function to find your way around. It is like magic!

This past summer we were in Paris. I don’t know my way around Paris. I also don’t really like to be pulling out my map a lot and looking like a silly tourist. Though map reading is an important skill that I like to teach my kids, when I’m in a big city on foot I really like to know where I am. Even with a very limited data plan on my iPhone I used it to navigate by foot all around the city using the Google Map strategy outlined above. I felt so much more comfortable knowing I had Google Maps when I needed to cheat and take a look at where I was or where I was heading.

On the other hand getting “lost” together can be a big learning experience and a fun adventure for the whole family if you have the time and no one is melting down. So, maybe turn off Google Maps at times and get lost. Don’t worry about exactly where you are as long as you are all together. This is one of my favorite parts of family travel time!

How to you navigate around foreign cities these days? Are there other apps we should know about? 

#Travel #FamilyTravel #Paris #France #Kids #Families