Why Families Need the Barclaycard Arrival Card In Their Wallets More Than Ever

Traveling with a family requires adapting to different needs. Add to that the ever-changing miles and points landscape, and what worked for me a few years ago doesn’t necessarily work today. Thankfully, there are all sorts of options on where to go, what to do, and how to make travel fit into our family’s budget by leaning (heavily) on miles and points.
My New Go-To Points
I’ve recently seen a number of questions on the TPG Family Facebook group (that you should totally join if you travel with a family) about points-bookable hotels in Europe that are suitable for families. The honest answer: There are some — here are examples in London and Paris, but traditional hotel awards are not always the best option in places like Europe. I’m currently planning my fifth trip to Europe in as many years, and when there are four of us traveling, points hotels are pretty much out of my equation as two teens and two parents in one tiny room is virtually impossible (especially in Europe).
Instead of trying to shoehorn my family into a hotel room, I’ve moved us into vacation rentals, where we are much more comfortable. Here’s a photo of the private pool in the villa we’re visiting in June for less than $250 per night. But, this transition doesn’t mean that the era of using points is over. For example, I used “miles” from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard to offset part of the cost. Other fixed-value credit card points that can be used for travel could also be a solid choices.

Another great way to use miles from the Barclaycard Arrival card is for a Disney or other theme park vacations. If you buy your theme park tickets through Undercover Tourist or another third-party vendor, they often code as travel and then Arrival miles can be redeemed toward them. Note that this only works if you use a broker/travel agent. Tickets purchased directly from Disney, for example, code as entertainment, not travel, unless they are part of a hotel package.
Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending
(Photo by Ryan Wendler / Walt Disney World)
You can use Arrival miles to offset any travel expense over $100. You have 120 days from the date of purchase to redeem miles but you can’t redeem a second time for that purchase later in the 120 days, so redeem all the miles you want the first time. On a large purchase you might want to wait until you are closer to the end date because you may have more miles to redeem at that time after they post each month.
How to Earn Arrival Miles
Barclaycard Arrival offers a compelling 70,000-mile sign-up bonus after you’ve spent $5,000 in the first 90 days after account opening. That actually translates to $735 in free travel because you get back 5% with every redemption you make. The annual fee is $89 and is not waived in the first year, but you can use miles to pay the fee after the first year.
Once you have the card, it earns at a very simple 2 miles per dollar on everything you spend. I give this card to my category-challenged husband so he doesn’t have to worry about which card to use for any given expense.

Earn Bonus Arrival Miles
While everyday spending is the most common way to earn Arrival miles, there’s another fun way: The Barclaycard Travel Community is a forum where people can share their travel stories. Barclaycard will give you 100 miles for a story, 50 miles for a photo and 10 miles for a location pin. Anyone can join and if you’re an Arrival Plus card member, the miles go right to your Arrival account. If you’re not, they’ll cash out as Amazon gift cards but a much lower rate: 2,500 points gets you $25 toward travel spend on an Arrival Plus card or a $5 Amazon gift card. You’ll even get 500 miles just for completing your profile. You also earn 10 miles if someone gives your story a like.
The best part: You only need 100 words per post and you probably have more ready-made content than you realize. How many reviews have you posted on TripAdvisor and Yelp? What about your Facebook and Instagram streams? You’d be amazed how easy it is to get to the 100-word mark. I make sure the words are my own, but I’ve pulled ideas from all sorts of places. You can also get 10 points for “pins”: 10-word snippets about a specific restaurant, hotel or location. Note: I recommend editing what you’ve written elsewhere so it’s not exactly cut and paste. Then use your reviews as inspiration and to jog your memory.
The biggest limit I’ve hit is that you can only post five stories per city, ever. Other than that, you can post up to 100 stories a month, every single month. Now that I have practice, I can write up to 20 posts and 100 pins per hour: 3,000 miles earned while binge-watching “The Office” or catching up on TPG Podcasts.
Bottom Line
Simplicity can be your best friend when you’re trying to plan your family’s travel, especially as award charts are all over the place (or more accurately, disappearing). With flexible points like Barclay Arrival miles, you can stop worrying quite as much about every movement and category change from hotel chains and airline alliances and focus on what matters: making memories with your kids (while still keeping some money in your wallet).

Mountain Majesty: Dunton Town House in Telluride, Colorado

To celebrate the big 1-0 anniversary this year, we flirted with the idea of going somewhere far away but ultimately decided on two smaller getaways. The first without the kids was courtesy of Hyatt award nights at the Miraval Resort and Spa outside of Tucson, Arizona. But for the second half of the celebration, we wanted somewhere that was much cooler in early September than Texas. We were also craving a touch more adventure than could be found at a spa retreat.
That’s where Dunton Town House in Telluride, Colorado, came in.
Exploring near Telluride
Booking
Telluride is a small mountain town of fewer than 2,500 residents with few traditional hotels and virtually no large properties. Since it is a ski town, there certainly are places to stay, but it’s a town that can sell out of lodging options during big events. We happened to decide to visit Telluride during the annual film festival, which almost landed us an anniversary weekend spent in a rental car. 

Thankfully, our preferred bed and breakfast, Dunton Town House, had a last-minute cancellation. Dunton Town House opened in late 2016, making it the newest lodging in Telluride, though it is far more bed and breakfast than hotel.

Rates vary by room type and season, from $350 to $700. Our room, Reh, was one of the larger rooms, and we paid the highest festival rate of $550 per night.
While I am fairly certain I have seen Dunton Town House on sites like Hotels.com in the past, I couldn’t find it listed there when we booked. If you can find the property on Hotels.com, you could earn 10x miles by booking via Hotels.com/Venture and paying with your Capital One Venture Rewards credit card. Alternatively, you could use miles from your Capital One Venture Rewards credit card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard by charging the travel purchase to those cards.
We booked our stay directly with the hotel and earned 3 points per dollar on the travel charge by paying with my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Location
Dunton Town House was in an absolutely ideal location for exploring Telluride, roughly a block away from the free Telluride Gondola and about two blocks away from Telluride’s main thoroughfare, Colorado Avenue. We were easily able to walk to all of our meals, some hiking trails, shops and more. Despite its central location, we heard virtually no street noise at night, even with the windows partially open.
When we arrived on a Friday afternoon, a farmers market was set up right in front of the property.

Check-in
Dunton Town House was not a big hotel but rather a high-end bed and breakfast that houses a maximum of around 10 guests at any one time. Our host for the stay met us out in the street to help park the car when we arrived and continued to meet all of our needs for the duration of the weekend visit. There was not a traditional formal check-in process, but rather a tour of the home and a rundown of ways we could relax and enjoy ourselves there during our stay.
The main area of Dunton Town House, where breakfast is served.
The keys to the room were real keys, we had a direct line to our on-site host, and we felt right at home from the moment we walked in the front door.

The Room
Each of the five rooms at Dunton Town House was unique. Our room was a king room on the ground level, accessed by walking through the entry room of the house and then back out onto an exterior hallway.

“Reh” means “roe deer” in German, and the deer theme was carried throughout the room, with accents on items such as pillows and curtains.

There was a large couch, dresser and TV.

The TV remained in the off position at Dunton Town House.
The bed felt large even for a king and was comfortable enough, though the pillows were quite floppy and it took two or three of them combined to get decent head support.

My favorite thing about the room was simply cracking open the windows and feeling the cool early-September mountain air chill the room. Add a cup of hot tea brought to us by the host and you have my version of vacation perfection.

Our room had a relatively large, bright and white en suite bathroom with two pedestal sinks and lots of cozy towels.

There was a shower/tub combo, but the tub was deeper than most. If you have any mobility issues, getting in and out may be a challenge, but I found it perfect for soaking after a long hike. The shower pressure and temperature were good and easy to control.

There were a variety of high-end Aesop bath amenities available in the bathroom in addition to two thick robes with the Dunton logo.

Food and Beverage
An included continental European breakfast was served each morning from 7:30am to 10am. Breakfast quickly became one of my favorite times of the day, as it was a true joy to chat with the other guests and the host. We often stick to ourselves on vacation, but the warmth here made us want to sit down and chat with other travelers over coffee.
Breakfast consisted of pastries brought in from a Telluride bakery, fresh berries, yogurt, granola, sliced meats, cheese, bagels, jam, orange juice and coffee.

The food was laid out on the main table, and you could make and refill your plate as often as you wished. I found the selections to be plenty varied for a weekend stay.

As a coffee lover, I was particularly impressed that the coffee was made using a Chemex, which we first learned of last year while staying at the Andaz Costa Rica and have periodically used for our own morning coffee routine ever since.

Though breakfast is the only meal served at the Dunton Town House, you could help yourself to the well-stocked fridge and pantry, which held wine, beer, soda, candy and fruit, for no additional charge.

There were also bowls of beef jerky, granola bars, chips and fruit set out on the main table each afternoon.

Factoring in the breakfast, snacks and drinks we enjoyed at Dunton, the $350-plus rates weren’t quite as painful as they were at first glance.
Amenities
There weren’t a lot of amenities to speak of at this small bed and breakfast, but there were a couple of things worth a mention. First, we were told they’re actively looking into putting in a small heated pool. They don’t like the word “hot tub” and want something a bit more sophisticated, so fingers crossed.
There was a common room above the breakfast area where you were free to watch TV, play games, read a book or just kick back and relax, which is exactly what we did. There was also a room for your skis, boots and winter equipment.

The host himself was an amenity of sorts, as he was great at making local recommendations, reservations and could even coordinate activities at their sister property, Dunton River Camp, about 90 minutes away. If we had stayed another day, I would have almost certainly booked the $100 full-day fishing trip, which included fishing on the Dolores River, lunch at the farmhouse deck and access to their hiking trails.
Overall Impression
Though no children were present on our stay, large families can book out the entire five-room property at a discount, and children 2 years and up can stay in the in the rooms for an additional $100 per night. Though the website states no rollaways, we were told in person that rollaways could be an option for families, so I’d inquire directly with the property.
I would not hesitate to book a stay at Dunton Town House with just my two girls on a future ski trip to Telluride, as the property is steps from the gondola that takes you up the mountain, but it may work best for a couples getaway. 
Enjoying a 10th-anniversary hike in Telluride.
We enjoyed our stay immensely, and the only thing that made leaving OK was looking forward to a return trip. This historic home with its warm and personalized service would be special anywhere, but in the middle of a magical place like Telluride, it was just about perfect. A summer visit was idyllic, but I hope my next visit is during the ski season so we can take full advantage of the gondola.

Many of our stays are at chain properties in order to leverage miles and points to stretch our vacation budget. However, there is a time and place for everything, and a 10th anniversary was the perfect time to slow down the pace, let in some fresh mountain air and enjoy our time at Dunton Town House in Telluride.
All images courtesy of the author.