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

Advertisements

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

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 7.27.05 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 7.27.15 PM

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

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 4.23.06 PM

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

 

Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-11-39-47-am

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? 

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

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-12-28-49-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-12-51-01-pm

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

IMG_0070

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! 

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-33-18-am

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

5th GRADE PASSPORT

  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]!

6th GRADE PASSPORT

  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!

PASSPORT PROGRAM MOUNTAINS

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.08.14 PM

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?

Enjoy Family Fun – All Summer Long With Meadow Music

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.12.52 AM

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

Family-Friendly Boulder Area Tours [that are FREE too!]

celestial seasoning

Looking for something a bit different to do with your family during the week or on the weekend? Check out these free local tours…

Celestial Seasonings Tour: Learn how tea is harvested, blended, packaged and makes its way to market. This is a 45 minute tour that leaves on the hour every day of the week. The tour is free and includes samples. Kids of all ages enjoy this tour!

NCAR Self-Guided Tour & Weather Hike: NCAR provides a building full of things to discover for kids and adults alike. Kids can explore many things related to weather in this hands on setting. There is also a short weather hike right above the building. Bring a picnic lunch and eat outside or plan to eat in their cafeteria. The tour is free and exhibits are open when the building is. Our family loves visiting NCAR!

Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art & Sculpture Garden: Explore paintings and statues of Western life and art. This is a relatively extensive collection of art and it is always free to visit.

CU Museum of Natural History: The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is located on the University of Colorado main campus. The Museum offers a wide range of special events and educational programs throughout the year. Permanent exhibition galleries feature paleontology, zoology, anthropology and the children’s Discovery Corner. Three galleries offer changing exhibits on a variety of topics. The museum is very family-friendly and admission is free. Open 7 days a week.

Interested in other FREE opportunities happening around town? See the Denver Free Days List for museums and attractions along the Front Range.

BIFF Youth Pavilion = Awesome Film/Arts Programming For Kids and Teens!

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 3.07.53 PM

The Boulder International Film Festival brings world class film and events to Boulder for a short time each year. In 2016 their Youth Pavilion is offering kid and teen focused films as well as workshops such as how to creating zombie makeup. All programs are free on a first come, first served basis. BIFF is March 4-6, 2016 so make your plans now!

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 1.31.03 PM

 

And more for teens…

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 1.33.06 PM

More detailed information on the #BIFF2016 Youth Pavilion happenings can be found here:

 BIFF 2016 Youth Pavilion Schedule

#BIFF2016 #Film #Boulder #Colorado #Families #Kids #Education