In the late fall of every year, millions of people head down south seeking refuge from the freezing temperatures, record snowfalls, and hazardous driving conditions that plague their home cities every winter. Like the Dark-eyed Juncos, they're named after, these snowbirds soak up the sun and stave off the cold all year-round. Whether you're thinking about living the snowbird life, or already doing it, we have travel tips and travel insurance for snowbirds of every type.
Who are Snowbirds?
Historically, most snowbirds are younger retirees between the ages of 50 and 69. But the face of the modern snowbird is looking slightly different, thanks to a global pandemic. It's no secret; Covid has changed a lot of things, often dictating where we go, what we do, and even how frequently we wash our hands. But arguably the biggest shift we've seen is in the workforce. The pandemic accelerated the push for many companies to move to a remote environment. Now, more people than ever before work remotely. This makes it easier for some younger people to pack up their laptops and web cams and enjoy the beach while they work. This type of digital nomad may stay put in one warm locale for the summer or they might state-hop or even country-hop to destinations around the world that they've always wanted to visit without using up their vacation days.
What are Some Travel Tips for Snowbirds?
If the snowbird lifestyle is something you want to try, there are a number of things you can do right now to pave the way for an awesome winter away from, well, winter. Here's a roundup of some of the best snowbird travel tips.
Research Your Destination
If you're a seasoned snowbird, you may own a cabin or vacation home down south already. In that case, you're all set. But if you're new to snowbirding or feel like switching things up, it helps to have a clear idea of what you're looking for before you start your search. Make a list of your must-haves and can't-stands. For instance, if you must have plenty of sun, but can't stand bugs, you might want to think twice about Florida. While it can certainly deliver on the sun, it also tops all fifty states for bug infestations. When you're ready to research, keep these questions in mind:
- What is the weather like in the months I will be there?
- What are the entry requirements?
- As a digital nomad, will I need a specific digital nomad visa to travel internationally?
- Are there any safety concerns in the area where I am staying?
- How is accessibility for people with mobility limitations?
- Is there a social community of snowbirds or seniors?
- Are there healthcare facilities nearby, just in case?
Schedule a Doctor Visit & Check Prescriptions
Prior to leaving, it is a good idea to schedule a visit with your general practitioner at home to make sure you're fit to travel and don't have any new or unaddressed health concerns. You'll also want to make sure you can refill any prescriptions you'll need while you are away. If you're staying within your own country and you have domestic healthcare, you should be all set. But if you're traveling internationally, you'll want to make sure you have all the refills you'll need while you're away. Many pharmacies will let you get extra refills for your vacation. Always make sure to pack more medication than you think you will need, just in case your stay gets extended.
Create a Pre-Departure Checklist
Is there a chance your pipes will freeze while you are away? Have you notified the Postal Service of your absence and suspended your newspaper delivery? Making a comprehensive checklist of all the thingsboth big and smallthat you have to do before you leave will help to organize your thoughts and ensure you don't forget anything. And, in case you do happen to forget something, make sure you give a trusted neighbor or family member a key to your house in addition to your new address and reliable contact information to reach out if needed.
Sort Out Travel Details and Plan Your Stay
Whether you are flying or driving to your destination, if you're crossing international borders, you'll need your passport. Make sure to double-check that it is up to date and doesn't need renewing. For snowbirds traveling by RV, chart your driving route ahead of time and plan your stops in places of historical interest or natural beauty to get in some extra sightseeing.
Before you arrive, do some research on local goings-on like festivals, concerts and other nearby attractions that you may not have explored yet. Even if you're returning to a familiar destination, a new experience could be a good opportunity to meet some new friends!
Tips for Airport Issues
- Check in online.
- Pack as light as possible; avoid checking your luggage if possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes and comfortable clothing at the airport; you may be in for long lines.
- If you need assistance walking or standing, be sure to call ahead to arrange help.
- Stay hydrated.
- If you check luggage, use technology like Apple's AirTags so you can track your valuables.
- Be prepared for long waits.
Get Travel Medical Insurance or Trip Insurance
If you're planning on spending your winter outside of your home country, your domestic healthcare will not protect you financially from any medical bills you incur while you're away. That's why you should consider a comprehensive travel medical insurance plan that will help to ensure you are covered and give you peace of mind to enjoy your warm-weather winter getaway. Although you might not think it, snowbird travel insurance cost isn't all that high, when you consider your total trip investment. For American residents traveling abroad, trip insurance, in addition to providing financial assistance for trip-related expenses like flight cancellation and lost baggage, also provides some measure of financial protection against urgent medical expenses incurred abroad.
No Matter Where You Flock to This Winter, Travel Insurance Can Help
Like we said, travel insurance for snowbirds helps cut down your financial risks as you swap snow for sun. But before we get to the best travel medical insurance plans for every type of snowbird, there are a few things everyone will want to look out for.
Important Travel Medical Benefits for Snowbirds:
Even if you ditched your snow boots for flip flops, you should still be on alert when it comes to Covid and consider Covid trip insurance. Be sure to follow Covid safety procedures and quarantine if needed. Most travel medical insurance plans have Covid coverage and that often, though not always, includes quarantine.
For Americans relying on trip insurance when they travel overseas, the trip delay benefit may cover expenses related to quarantine should you have to extend your visit.
Maximize plan coverage
The higher an insurance plan's policy maximum, the more expensive the premium. But, having a policy maximum that offers at least $100,000 in coverage will ensure that you're covered for a variety of situations. Some policies offer maximums of as much as $5,000,000. You can assess your risk and select the best maximum for your individual needs and destination.
Emergency medical evacuation
This benefit helps to ensure that if you need immediate medical attention, you can be transported to the nearest medical facility. Without insurance, emergency medical evacuation can cost upwards of $100,000, so make sure the policy you select has this benefit so you stay protected from the unexpected.
Best Travel Insurance Plans for Digital Nomads
Best Travel Insurance Plans for Senior Snowbirds
- USVisit-Pro (for snowbirds visiting the US ages 74 and under)
- Safe Travels USA Comprehensive
- Patriot Platinum
Best Travel Insurance Plans for Canadian Snowbirds (And other visitors to the US)
Best Travel Insurance for International Snowbirds
Best Trip Insurance Plans for Interstate Snowbirds
If you're an American resident planning to stay within the U.S. for the summer, your domestic healthcare (including medicare) should cover you for major expenses related to medical care. But trip insurance, coverage only available to U.S. residents, can help lessen the financial blow related to all-too-common traveler headaches like flight cancellations, missed connection, and baggage loss. Here are some of the best trip insurance plans for snowbirds like you:
- iTravelInsured Travel X
- SafeCruise (if you're in Florida already, why not board a cruise?)
- Safe Travels Voyager
Whether you're a Montrealer wondering what's the best travel insurance for Canadian snowbirds or a Minnesotan headed to the Caribbean, careful planning and the right travel insurance solutions are the important first steps in creating a snowbird experience you'll never forget. If you have any questions or need help choosing a travel insurance for your snowbirding adventures, VisitorsCoverage is happy to help.