About Boulder Families

I am the founder of Boulder Families. I live in Boulder, Colorado with my husband and 2 boys. We love to travel, ski, do puzzles, be in the mountains and at the beach, and just spend time together.

Chase Credit Card Benefits: Purchase Security & Why It Rocks!

Chase Credit Card Benefits: Purchase Security & Why It Rocks!

There are a lot of credit card benefits you don’t know you have! I also bet there have been times you could have used those benefits and saved some cash! This post explores the Purchase Security benefit from Chase.

Purchase security is really what it sounds like. It secures your purchases from anything that could happen to them for 120 days. The credit card I will highlight is my Chase Ink Business Plus, which is a great card for all sorts of reasons which I will go into in this series later. What I found out is that All Purchases on the Ink Business Plus are covered for 120 days if they are lost, damaged, or generally rendered unusable. This benefit played out big time for my family this year. For example, my son’s Faction skis were fully replaced when he ruined them skiing rails in the terrain park in Vail, Colorado, because we had purchased them less than 120 ago.

This is what I did to get our money back…

This is the edge of the skis. The damage to these skis was extensive!

First I checked to make sure we had purchased them within the 120 day window. Check! Next I took photos of the damage and sent those to Faction to request that they warranty the damage. They kindly emailed me to tell me that type of damage was not covered by warranty. Fine. Check. Then I called customer service at the credit card and they sent me to their Card Benefits Services department. This department asked me a few questions and told me to complete an application online. I did so and uploaded the documents I had collected. They requested:

  • Proof of purchase
  • Photo of the skis
  • Email stating they were not covered under warranty
  • Credit card statement showing the purchase using my card

This is the Card Benefit Services website page. I was able to manage the entire claims process online. Super simple!

None of these were too difficult to come up with. I uploaded them into their system and in 10 days I received a check to cover the skis [minus tax, shipping, etc.. even though I had paid for those on the card as well]. It was that simple. I am still in shock.

The moral of this story is that there are a lot of credit card benefits that you should learn about and not overlook. It feels like free money, but of course it’s not, it is just part of the benefit you can expect when you sign up for many credit cards.

Questions? Thoughts? Let me know… -Amanda

#Chase #TravelHacking


Family-Friendly Ski Pass Deals You Don’t Want To Miss!

Skiing can be expensive, so if you are a family that likes to ski, it’s best to get a season pass. Here is what you should know about current pass promotions for families with kids and teens. I’m posting now even though Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass has not posted their 2018/19 season pass details because there are some time sensitive season pass decisions to be made. Here’s what we know about family-friendly promotions for the new IKON Pass and the Mountain Collective. 

IKON Pass. The new IKON offers different levels of passes just like the Epic, but does it a little differently. They offer unlimited access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Eldora, Mammoth, Squaw Valley, and a few more. with then limited access to mountains like Aspen, Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, and more. They offer 26 ski destinations in North America. The passes for kids or teens fully match up with the adult pass products.

Kids 12 & under: $149 for Ikon Base Pass & $199 for Ikon Pass. The kids pass price is good through April 9, 2018.

Teens/College: $479 for Ikon Base & $719 for Ikon

[For perspective: one day lift tickets at Aspen are $169/adult and $112/child/teen]

Get the details @ IKON Pass

Mountain Collective Pass. This pass offers 2 days of skiing at their 16 resorts for a total of 32 days of skiing at resorts such as Aspen, Alta, Taos, Snowbird, etc. This may work for some families, but it may not for others. The kids passes fully match up with the adult pass product. Early Season Adult price: $409

Kids 12 & under: Get a kid’s pass for $1 with the purchase of an adult pass and $99 for additional kid passes.

Teens/College: No Discount – real bummer!

[For perspective: one day lift tickets at Aspen are $169/adult and $112/child/teen]

Get the details @ Mountain Collective.

Epic Pass. No news yet from Vail Resorts on their 2018/19 season pass products. I’m wondering what to expect from Vail – I assume we will see the FREE Epic School Kids back which offers 16 days of skiing between Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, for kids K-5th grade. The question is will Vail Resorts jump in with more discounted kids and teen passes? If they want to get more ski families in the Front Range and beyond, I sure hope so. I’m crossing my fingers!

Get the details @ Epic Pass  or Epic School Kids

Are you excited for the new IKON Pass? What pass will your family get? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

#Skiing #SkiPasses #Vail #EpicPass #IKONPass #MountainCollective #Kids #Families

Earn Tons of Ultimate Rewards Points: Buying Gift Cards [For places you already spend $] = Free Travel!

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Free Travel is always my goal for my family. We use various strategies to get points and miles to make our travel cheap or free. Our main strategies for getting points and status include:

  • Maximizing credit card sign ups
  • Registering for bonuses at hotels, airlines, etc.
  • Tracking deals [I follow a lot of travel related blogs]
  • Purchasing gift cards 

I want to talk about my new strategy of purchasing gift cards to increase Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These are really valuable points because they offer an opportunity to transfer points to many of my favorite travel partners [Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt]. This is not a new strategy – people have been doing this for a long time. I just clued in and I want to share how you too can maximize points without changing your spending habits.

If you have a Chase credit card that gives you bonus points for purchasing in certain categories I suggest that you take a minute and learn how to ‘bank’ a lot of points quickly my maximizing the categories. I do this by using my Chase Ink Plus card to earn Ultimate Rewards points. The Ink Plus offers 5 times the points on purchases at office supply stores.

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How To Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

We don’t do a lot of shopping at office supply stores so at first glance this does not seem very interesting, but this is actually where it gets interesting. You can purchase gift cards for things you use already at any office supply store and the purchase is considered an office supply. For my family we shop at Whole Foods and Amazon a lot, so those seemed like low hanging fruit and this is where I started.

I went to our local office supply store and purchased $500 worth of Whole Foods cards. I easily spend this amount each month. For the $500 of Whole Foods gift cards I purchased with my Chase Ink Plus card, I received 2,500 Ultimate Rewards points. This is where some math comes into play to get my excited to continue to add an additional step to my shopping.

Here’s the math on adding one step to my grocery shopping: 30,000 UR points/year

$500/mo. x 5 points/$ = 2,500 UR points/month

2,500 UR points/mo. x 12 mo/yr = 30,000 UR points/year

Without adding any additional spending, I just made 30k very valuable travel points I can use on airlines or hotels. Ultimate Rewards points can be instantly transferred to Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, and many more travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Learn how 30,000 UR points can just about take a family of 4 on two round trips from Denver to Seattle AND Denver to San Diego on Southwest Airlines – read my post on how you can maximize travel using Southwest points. 

If you have questions about how to use this strategy get ahold of me – Email Amanda


Southwest Gets You Out of Town: Seriously Cheap Tix from Denver

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I’m excited. A quick check in this morning for tickets to Seattle found this: $45 or 2,055 points each way Denver [DEN] to Seattle [SEA]. That’s $90 round trip. This is cheap travel, but in my experience flying Southwest doesn’t feel like a discount airlines. You can pay for Early Bird check in [$15] and they don’t charge for up to 2 bags. We are considering this option for taking a ski trip to Whistler/Blackcomb with the family.

Denver to Seattle Flights

How to Find Cheap Tickets on Southwest

To find cheap fares on Southwest I pick my city pair. Then I pick random dates to get into the search engine. Then pick points or dollars [these are very interchangeable, so just pick one and then you can see the other one later]. Click on the dates you want to travel.

One thing about Southwest is that their flights will not turn up on other search engines [e.g., Google Flights or ITA Matrix]. You have to go directly to Southwest.com. It’s super easy.

This was a great find! I can take my family of 4 round trip to Seattle for 16,440 points. Unreal. So I poked around just a little and found that I can also take my family to San Diego for the same amount of points. Thank you, Southwest Airlines!

Denver to San Diego Flights

Getting Southwest Points

Wondering how to get Southwest points, I suggest signing up for the Southwest Airlines credit card and getting 40,000 points. Then you can take your whole family to Seattle and San Diego in the future and have a few points left over.

#Skiing #EpicPass #VailResorts #Canada #Seattle #SanDiego #Families #CheapTix #CheapTickets



Amazon + Whole Foods + Amex = Easy $20 Savings Delivered

Amazon Prime has changed the landscape of shopping for many of us. Add Prime Now – a delivery service – and some of us may never go to the grocery store again. Okay, maybe you will go to the grocery store again, but here’s an easy way to save $20 AND get your groceries delivered.

It’s not big news any longer but Amazon bought Whole Foods. I don’t personally notice much of a savings since their big hype about prices going down, but now you can save some cash by ordering delivery through Amazon at Whole Food and paying with your Amex card. I did it today!


  • Go to PrimeNow.Amazon.com. 
  • Load a minimum of $20 of items into your cart
  • Proceed to checkout
  • Sign in to your Amazon Prime account
  • Choose a delivery time frame [2 hour windows]
  • Choose to use your Amex card for payment 


  • When you check out put AMEX20 in as your promo code
  • Complete payment and wait for your groceries to show up on your doorstep. Here is the fine print of the offer. The key here is you have to use your Amex Card and be a current Amazon Prime member. It was super easy!



Ski Snowmass for $6.50 – Really?!?!

Ski Snowmass for $6.50! Aspen is celebrating their 50th anniversary of Snowmass by charging the same rate they did when they opened. This could be awesome given the right conditions or if you’ve just been waiting for the right time to experience Aspen/Snowmass.

The Good:

  • Spending $6.50 for a day of skiing at Snowmass
  • Fun packed weekend with tons to do in the Aspen Valley

The Bad:

  • Must stay at least 1 night at one of their properties [early season looks to be around $150+]
  • Available only on Friday, December 15, 2017
  • Early season can offer great conditions, but the snow can also be a little sparse.

Looks like they have a lot of activities planned for the whole weekend. Lots of retro fun! Get the details on this deal at Ski Snowmass.

Thanks to Mommypoints for the original post!


Family Travel to Sayulita, Mexico: A Pueblo Magico for Families!?!?

img_4021We wanted to get out of town – last minute! There was no snow in the mountains and my kids were about to be out of school for 2 1/2 weeks. What to do? Where to go? I started researching about three weeks out. I was sure it was possible to get away with our family of four using miles for travel and points for staying in an Airbnb, but not simple. I did a lot of research and finally landed on flying into Puerto Vallarta [PVR]. My whole family had spent time in Sayulita, Mexico over the years and it seemed like an easy trip that ticked off a lot of the most important travel points for my family:

  1. Travel mainly on miles/points
  2. Surf/beach/warm
  3. Easy non-stop travel

img_3948Having spent a lot of time in Mexico and Central America we knew we could make a quick trip to Sayulita and all get our needs met. Not a tough decision for my family!

Getting There

We flew to Puerto Vallarta on United for 17.5k points and back on Southwest for 9k points [per person]. We got cash in the airport [don’t forget to let your bank know you are traveling] from our ATM card [I recommend using your ATM as they give the best exchange rates]. We actually forgot to tell our bank and we ended up having to call our bank from the airport to get our account unfrozen – just plan ahead and it’s not a problem! We got the kids some snacks and drinks in the airport since we were about to take a cab for at least 45 minutes. We then easily caught a cab right outside the airport for $50 to Sayulita. Super easy! Most hosts can arrange a pick up at the PVR airport – but it will cost a little more.

Sayulita, Mexico

This amazing town has been designated as a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican Government.  It is an easy, non-stop flight from the USA and only 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. It is also a laid back, sweet spot, that offers lots of real Mexico with a lot of the comforts and ease you might expect from a tourist spot.

img_4039The town in small enough that you can stay almost anywhere and be in easy walking distance to the beach. Be aware that there are a lot of places to stay up steep hills just outside of town – okay for adults and teens, but tough on little ones. This time my family really enjoyed staying a little out of town – we stayed on the north end of town, right on the beach, and loved the peace and quiet. It was a flat 5 minute walk into town along the beach or roads just behind our Airbnb. Certainly there was still more than enough going on to keep us entertained – beach, pool, ceviche on the beach, great food, massages, surfing, etc… I did notice that a lot of Gringos rented golf carts – but I like to get my family walking.

img_3965Food: Sayulita has great food options! Check out garlic shrimp on the beach at any of the restaurants, fresh fish at Don Pedros [we indulged and eat at the fanciest Sayulita dining establishment and it was still under $20 for each of us including a delicious swordfish meal, drinks, etc…], and delicious food at almost any turn. Try Choco-Banana for yummy breakfast and deserts. Eat street tacos at Ivan’s in the evening. Tacos at Naty’s during the day is always a great, very inexpensive, meal. Indulge in churros on the street in the evening. The food scene is a feast for your bellies and eyes – kids love it! 

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

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

Surf: You can rent surf boards of all varieties right on the beach. Look up and down the beach for the best options – prices and quality varied. You can also arrange lessons at many surf shops along the streets right off the beach or at the tents on the beach. One surf school option is Lunazul. The surf was very calm in December, but it can get big!

img_3943Beach: The beach runs along the crescent shaped bay that is Sayulita. It is beautiful, but the sand is a bit rough. In places the beach drops off steeply into the ocean. It’s okay for adults, but overhead for many kids and even teens. You will see people swimming, surfing and paddle boarding all day and into the evening. There is also a riptide that my own child has been saved from by a life guard on this very beach, so be aware. They do have life guards – a lot of beaches don’t! 

Housing: I love using Airbnb for housing – especially in small towns where I cannot use points or when I want a more local experience. Our options were limited because we were booking over the Christmas Break and we booked so last minute. But there were plenty of options on Airbnb. Also try VRBO and SayulitaLife for booking housing and all things Sayulita. With kids I always look for a pool in addition to the ocean since the surf can be exhausting to kids and sometimes it’s nice to get a break. It’s also nice to have air-conditioning in the bedrooms [even in December, but during warmer weather I think it’s essential!]. We booked with Airbnb for under $190/night, last minute, in high season and this included a pool and was steps from the beach. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it had everything we needed! 

img_4018There are a few different options for housing in Sayulita:

  • In-town – convenient, but noisy and often cramped
  • North of town – quieter, 5+ minute walk to town [can easily rent a golf cart for young kids or grandparents]
  • Gringo Hill [or neighborhoods off the river] – these can be beautiful views, but a long walk, and very steep [double check this option for kids and grandparents]

The Ally Cat


  • Take a quick trip to Punta Mita which offers beginner surf breaks that are long, long, long.
  • Sail to the Marietta Islands with the Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. This was a super fun, all day excursion that included lots of sailing, food, drinks, whale watching, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jumping from the ship into the ocean below.
  • Take a hike to Playa de Los Muertos – this is a hidden beach within walking distance to Sayulita even with kids. Walk out of town along the road that parallels the beach past Villa Amor. Head up over the hill past the cemetery on your left and down to a secluded beach – sometimes it doesn’t feel so secluded, but it’s certainly more private than the Sayulita beach.

The Good

  • Easy, direct flights to PVR and simple to transfer to Sayulita
  • Good food and easy to find
  • Reasonably priced – the flights, housing, and especially food!
  • The North side of Sayulita – we loved it! Good food, quiet beaches, peaceful evenings, etc…
  • It’s easy to get around without a lot of Spanish language skills. I also see this as a negative for those of us who want to practice our Spanish.

The Bad

  • It was packed! So many, many tourists. I would say you can expect an equal number gringos and Mexican tourists in December. The summers are relatively empty there, but humid.
  • The beach is okay, but it is so crowded that there are literally umbrellas touching one another for 100s of yards, and stacked 6 deep, in the main part of town
  • You have to say, “No, gracias” so many times when you are near the beach because so many people are walking around selling their wares.
  • Too easy to speak English in this town that is used to tourists.


I have a sweet spot in my heart for Sayulita, Mexico. I do agree that it is a Pueblo Magico!


BVSD Open Enrollment Deadline Is Almost Here

Open Enrollment. These two words bring strong emotions to the parents of Boulder. For some who chose to enroll their kids in their neighborhood school, open enrollment in the Boulder Valley School District [BVSD] is not a big deal. Phew! For the 40% of Boulder families who do open enroll our children it can be stressful.

So what is open enrollment in BVSD? Any child can go to any school based on availability by entering their child into the lottery system called, Open Enrollment. All families in BVSD can look at all schools to see which one seems to meet their child[ren]’s needs best. There are many choices [charter schools, focus schools, and neighborhood schools] and each has it’s benefits and drawbacks. But ultimately many Boulderites choose to open enroll their children in an attempt to try and find the best fit. For more details on open enrollment click here.

BVSD Open Enrollment Dates:

November 7, 2016 through January 9, 2017

Finding the BVSD school that is the right fit – School Tours:

All BVSD schools offer school tours during the open enrollment process. To tour a school you need to go during their scheduled school tours. To find open enrollment school tours dates/times – BVSD Open Enrollment Tours

There are two main types of BVSD schools:

Neighborhood Schools: These are the schools that are designated for your neighborhood. Your child can always get into these schools if you live within the boundaries. You DO NOT need to open enroll to these schools if you are in the neighborhood, but you CAN if you want your child to go to the school, but you are NOT in the designated boundary.

Focus/Charter Schools: These are open enrollment schools that serve ALL of BVSD. There are NO designated neighborhood boundaries for Focus and Charter schools. You MUST open enroll to these schools. 

To help you visualize the open enrollment process here is the BVDS open enrollment flow chart [the one they have up is from last year, so the dates are incorrect, but the content is good otherwise]:


Preschools: For Boulder Families with younger children there are a few schools that have open enrollment options for preschool, such as Community Montessori. For these schools, open enrolling at preschool age is the best way to secure a slot for your child. So even if your child is too young for elementary schools, taking a look at the open enrollment process can be really helpful.

Other Open Enrollment Considerations: Likewise, the award winning Peak to Peak Charter School has open enrollment policies that favor those who have applied many times. They are all a bit different, so it is best to do your research!

Open enrollment happens for a limited time. You MUST apply to open enroll your child by January 9, 2017 to get into the lottery. To get an open enrollment application head to the BVSD website. Good luck to everyone open enrolling a child this year!

I am always happy to answer questions from my personal experience with kids in #BVSD and the Open Enrollment process. Email me at amanda@boulderfamilies.com


Free Ice Skating at DIA This Holiday Season!


Free Ice Skating at DIA this Holiday Season!

Talk about a great way to spend some time with the family this holiday season! Now through January 1, 2017 enjoy ice skating at DIA. Free and open daily 9am to 9pm. Complimentary skates available. What’s not to love! 

Get to DIA early for your holiday travels and spend some time ice skating. The kids might be psyched to head to the airport to pick up guests knowing they will get to skate.

Get all the details: http://www.flydenver.com/events

Original Post: The Points Guy

Featured image courtesy of The Denver Post


Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!


Traveling with a family can be tricky. It can be expensive. Things come up. It’s tough to get everyone’s calendars synced. Needs change. Southwest Airlines to the rescue. The fact that Southwest in budget conscious and very flexible make me loyal to this brand. Southwest Airlines really rocks it for families!

Here is why my family loves flying with Southwest Airlines:

  • Change Your Flights Without Fees. Unlike any other domestic airline, you can book flights [paid or points] and then make a change to them up to 10 minutes prior to boarding for FREE. This is golden for my family!
    • I often book flights on Southwest with the idea that we MIGHT go. Sometimes I am just dreaming. Sometimes I need to figure out if this trip works with everyone’s schedules. I book the flights and then figure things out. I can take more than 24 hours that other airlines let me have to get things figured out or wait to see if the other pieces of the trip will come together.
    • For example, we have tickets booked to go from Denver To Salt Lake City this winter because we want to ski at Park City Ski Area. I’m still not sure how the snow will be in Utah, so I’ll sit on these tickets until we have a clearer idea of snow fall, without worrying about change fees. Flexibility is key for my family!
  • Free Checked Bags. You get 2 free checked bags which saves you a bunch over other airlines unless you have elite status or have their credit card.
    • This is self explanatory, but if I was flying on United or other major airline carriers, I would pay a fee per bag if I did not have elite status or their branded credit card. This could cost my family hundreds. I hate to pay extra fees! 
  • Early Bird Check In. You don’t get a seat when you book a flight on Southwest, but you can pay $15 to get their Early Bird Check-In. Since you don’t have assigned seats you can just have one parent go on board early [just pay $15 once] and save seats for the whole family. Everyone does it, so it’s not strange.
    • If cost isn’t an issue then just get everyone in your travel party Early Bird Check-in when you purchase tickets. If you want to save some $ then just divide up your reservation and make sure one parent is going on early to save seats for the entire family.
  • Excellent Value/Use of Points. If you plan ahead, and sometimes last minute, Southwest offers really low cost travel options – which is great for my family of 4!
    • Southwest is a great option any time you are traveling last minute as they are definitely worth checking and at times offer an excellent value.
    • Southwest points are usually a better deal than most other airlines. For example, I wanted to fly from LA to Denver this month [November] and there are plenty of $44 [2002 points] or $79 [4045 points] one way. On United would cost me much more if I purchase a revenue ticket or between 12,000 and 25,000 points one way.
  • Easily Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest Points. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points you can easily transfer then 1 to 1 and fill up your Southwest points account when you need them most. 

Southwest really works for our family. The things I love the most are their flexibility and low cost/low points. I regularly transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest account to book flights. I love that I can leave the points in my rewards card until I need them – just in case I need them for some other reason. Southwest just makes my life so simple and helps our family to travel more!

How about the rest of you traveling families – what is your favorite airlines and why?