The Finance Blogger


Snowbird Lifestyle Issues

Many people are becoming snow birds these days, ourselves included, so we thought we would write about some of our experiences and ask readers to let us know about theirs so that we can all improve our chances of enjoying our time away from the cold Canadian and Northern US winters.

Here are some of the major issues  that all snowbirds need to consider whether Snowbird Lifestyle Issuesyou are going away for a month or longer. Each situation will be different so we will keep this general so you can apply it to your personal situation. We will expand the list in more detail later in this post, however if we missed something, please leave us a comment and will be happy to add it at anytime. Here is our list for Snowbirds:

  • Home Maintenance While You are Away
  • Health Insurance ( Especially for Canadians)
  • Condo Rentals / Hotel Contracts
  • Car Contracts
  • Communications
  • Meeting other Snow Birds
  • Friends and Visitors While You are Away
  • Staying in Touch With Family
  • Emergency Situations

Home Maintenance While You are Away

Always make sure that there is someone looking after your home or apartment while you are away.  Basic things such as security, picking up the mail and making sure the home is heated. Your insurance company may have specific things that you need to do to maintain your insurance. Check with them before you embark on your snow bird trip for the winter. Whoever is looking after your home needs to be able to get in touch with you and deal with any emergencies that may come up.

Health Insurance ( Especially for Canadians)

We all need health insurance, however it is a big issue for Canadians, since our health insurance does not begin to pay the costs involved when using foreign medical treatment. Investigate the coverage you need to have for your family while you are away and never travel without it.

Condo Rentals / Hotel Contracts

It is better to have a contract than none at all, however these things really do not protect you while in a foreign country. What are you going to do, sue them. It gets way too expensive, so you are better to dot the i’s and cross the t’s before you go. Rely on word of mouth and recommendations. Remember that pictures can be doctored and they are often taken when the property was pristine and do not reflect the way it is today. Many snowbirds have been ripped off in this manner or had to deal with inferior conditions.

Snowbird Lifestyle Issues to Consider

Car Contracts

Always set up your car contract before you arrive, so that you know there is a car waiting for you and you know the price. If you have to negotiate a contract in a foreign country you are clearly at a disadvantage.

Many snow birds will travel in their own cards. Always make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage for the country you are going to. Many will not insure your car for Mexico for example without a special rider being added.

It goes without saying, have your car fully maintained, good tires and anything that needs replacement before you go. A breakdown while on the road can be expensive.

Communications

Whether it is prepaid cell phone, your computer with Skype loaded or your current phone, always make sure you have sufficient communications to cover emergencies and so that someone can get in touch with you within a 24 hour period. A cell phone  is also handy to have for making arrangements, since many hotels and condos either charge an arm and a leg for the use of a phone or they simply do not provide service.

Meeting other Snow Birds

Be outgoing and ready to meet people along the way, however always be cautious too to avoid getting into situations that are not comfortable. You can have a lot of fun with new found friends.

Friends and Visitors While You are Away

Many people will want to visit for free, especially if you let them know you have the room. Advertise this fact carefully and to those people who you want to visit, especially if you have a hard time saying no. We found that the rule of a 5 pm happy hour is a great idea. The rest of the day everyone is on their own, but meeting at 5pm to visit and compare notes is a great way to set plans for the evening without feeling that you have to entertain someone all of the time.

Staying in Touch With Family

Stay in touch with the family especially the kids and grand kids. Use Skype video or some other similar product to talk to people for free and see them over the video service provided. Remember a computer to computer call over Skype is a free call.

Emergency Situations

This is the toughest thing to deal with. Obviously you cannot anticipate all situations, however you can ease the situation somewhat. Make sure that your spouse and your family members (those that you trust) have your itinerary, know how to get in touch, have access to your medical insurance, home insurance and car insurance policies. One call should be enough for someone to get into action to help you deal with whatever emergency comes up.

We have only covered the major things that a snowbird traveler should consider. Take these and work out the details for your situation, and family to ensure that your long term vacation is a successful one.

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