6 Tips for First-Time Snowbirds


Julie Chickery

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Julie and her husband Sean started traveling in their RV full-time 4 years ago after they each served 20 years in the US Air Force. Having lived in more than 10 states and 4 countries, the Chickerys decided it was time to enjoy the rest of the United States. They manage Chickery’s Travels, an educational and inspirational blog and YouTube channel aimed at helping people realize their full-time travel dreams.

Are you planning to head south this winter and enjoy a few months on the beach or in a warmer climate? Taking the time to ensure you’re well prepared before you hit the road will help make your seasonal winter travel that much more enjoyable.

Follow the 6 tips we’ve gathered below to help you prepare for a stress-free snowbird season and kick off your winter in the best way possible.

Sign Up For Mail Forwarding

Head south for the winter! Make the most of your snowbird season with these simple tips!

Most campgrounds allow seasonal travelers to receive mail while staying there. If you’re going to be at one specific location all winter, your mail solution may be as simple as signing up for mail forwarding at your local post office–It’s a convenient option worth taking advantage of. You can also pay a small monthly fee to have your email filtered and forwarded to you, so you can weed out the junk. The Good Sam mail forwarding service is as little as $9 a month.

If you will be traveling to more than one location, you may want to use a service that will hold your mail instead. With this type of service, the mail is held until you pick it up or it can be forwarded upon request once you’re settled in a campground for a longer period of time.

Plan For Health Care & Medicine

Weekly Pill Box
Image Courtesy of Shutterfly

Check with your physician in advance for any prescriptions that you will need to be refilled while you are away. In most cases, you will be able to get enough refills ordered that you can just have them filled as needed at chain pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS. However, some controlled medications will require you to physically see a doctor at your seasonal location.

Make a list of your doctor’s and dentist’s contact information as well as health insurance details in case you need to contact them while you are away. Keep this handy in your RV while you’re on the road.

Check your health insurance plan to verify portability. You will want to know in advance what the rules are for any required medical care at your seasonal location.

Manage Your Money

Make sure your finances are in order before embarking on seasonal travel.

Consider using automatic bill payment for recurring expenses while you’re out and about. That way you don’t have to remember to pay it on time every pay period. Also, let your bank and credit card companies know you’ll be traveling so they won’t flag any purchases you make on the road that appears to be outside of your normal spending habits.

Another good thing to do is to sign up for paper-free statements so you can access them online and have one less piece of monthly mail to worry about. You want to be able to easily see where your money is going while on the road or off the grid.

Prepare Your Primary Residence

Prepare your house for vacancy during the snow bird season.

You want your home to be just the way you left it once you return. Following the easy tips below, you can ensure you’ll come home to a beautiful home once the weather warms up.

  • Install motion-sensitive exterior lights and interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to create the appearance of someone being home and to discourage prowlers. This is one of the best ways to deter would-be thieves.
  • Stop newspaper delivery. You’re not going to be around to read the paper anyway. Consider subscribing to an online version you can read anywhere.
  • Arrange for snow removal to avoid drifting and pile-ups.
  • Perform routine maintenance like having your heating system inspected and serviced.
  • Clean your home thoroughly to help discourage pests from moving in while you’re away. Also, be sure to inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter and address them accordingly.
  • Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor or family member to keep an eye out for your home. If they’re heading south too, consider hiring a property management service.

Give the RV a Thorough Inspection

RV Surge Protector Power Watchdog
An inspection of the RV should be completed before hitting the road.

If you haven’t taken your RV out in a while, you’ll want to take a little time to get it ready for the long trip. Here are some things that you should definitely take a look at before heading out.

  • Make sure your batteries are fully charged your batteries and have the correct water level. If they were removed for storage make sure they are reconnected correctly.
  • Check the tires. Inspect them for any signs of damage and ensure they are inflated to the recommended PSI.
  • Sanitize your water system and check for leaks.
  • Connect your RV to power and test all your appliances.
  • If your RV is motorized, follow the vehicle preparation steps below.

Don’t Forget Tow Vehicle & Driving Considerations

Follow these tips for a safe RV trip south for the winter.

If your RV is motorized, or you have a tow vehicle that you don’t regularly drive and maintain, then you need to take the time to ensure that the vehicle is in tip-top condition before hitting the road. The last thing you want is to set off for a relaxing time in your RV only to end up stranded on the side of the road on the way to your warmer destination.

  • Get a tune-up to be prepared for the lengthy drive.
  • Check all fluid levels (transmission, engine coolant, oil, windshield washer, and brake fluid).
  • Have tires, brakes, and axle bearings inspected on your RV and fixed, if necessary.
  • Make sure your registration and insurance are up to date and won’t expire while you’re away. Keep them in a place where they’re easily accessible inside the RV in the event you need to reference them.
  • Consider joining a roadside assistance program, like Good Sam, for any unexpected problems that pop up.
  • Make sure you know where you’re going. Even if you have a GPS to help you with directions, having maps as a backup doesn’t hurt. Speaking of a GPS, be sure it is the RV type so you can avoid low clearance bridges.
  • Don’t overdo it when driving. Take frequent breaks, and take your time. A well-rested and alert driver is a safe driver.

Is there anything we left out that you think should be placed on the snowbird preparation checklist? Share your best tips and tricks to help others in the comments below.

  • Comment (7)
  • GGreatGrandmom says:

    If heading for Florida make reservations well in advance. First year full timing, 9 months to a year and still missed some of the better spots. Plan ahead!

  • Sandra D says:

    Know the driving laws in the states that you are traveling!

  • Ron Chapman says:

    Before you leave home, shut off the water ! And the water heater. A leak could destroy your home while you are gone.

  • Ron Tatum says:

    Love Camping World and Good Sam. Have the App on my Phone!!

  • Becky G. says:

    (1) Watch the weather carefully along your route especially if you are traveling to the southwest. Determine which alternate routes you can use if storms develop.
    (2) Have an app such as Good Sam on your phone. You can call ahead for a reservation as soon as you’re certain of your daily destination.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t hurt to winterize the house, that way if heat would go out during winter, wouldn’t be coming home to frozen broken plumbing.

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