Canadian Snowbird Checklist
Written by Lisa McQuaid on January 17, 2018
Are you heading south for the winter? Our Snowbird Checklist helps keep your winter adventures on track so that you can enjoy the best of warmer climates and outstanding destinations.
Start with your RV and Vehicle
Your RV and tow vehicle are two tools that are essential for a successful escape from the cold, harsh winter. As such, be sure to:
- Have both vehicles serviced and inspected before you leave.
- Pay close attention to the tires on each vehicle. Check the air pressure, tread and general condition of all tires before you leave. If needed, have them replaced or repaired before you depart.
- Test the water system for leaks and make sure the reservoirs are clean and the system is flushed before you refill it for your trip.
- Check registrations and licenses to make sure they are correct, up to date, as well as your passport, and driver's license too.
Tip: Be sure to check with your insurance broker to make sure your vehicle insurance is updated and the correct coverage is in place before you hit the road.
Review Rules and Regulations
If you plan to head in the US or down into Mexico, then be sure to review border rules and regulations. These rules tend to change often, so what was allowed one year might be banned the next. Check the rules before you go, especially those that cover food, alcohol, and personal protection devices.
- US Customs and Border Protection
- US Customs from Mexico back to the US
- US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico - Bringing Items into Mexico
These links will help you understand how to transport personal medications, medications for your pets, and other times that are important for a successful vacation away from home.
Preparing for Extended Travel Outside of Canada
Preparing to leave for a season or longer requires firm forethought. Here is our list of things to consider and plan for before you hit the road.
- Travel insurance is a must, especially policies that cover medical costs and transport. Be sure to check with a broker to discover all your options before you choose travel insurance and medical insurance for abroad.
- Medications - Know how many medications you can bring to the US and other countries, and plan ahead to make sure you have more than enough. It is helpful to have copies of prescriptions to show border agents, and all the necessary documents prepared before you leave.
- Driver's Licenses - Double check your driver's license to make sure it remains valid while you are away.
- Health Insurance - Check with your medical insurance provider to see if they have coverage while you travel and understand how that process works. Health issues abroad can range from mild to catastrophic so make sure that you have adequate coverage in place. Keep in mind that an air ambulance is expensive.
- Emergency Contact Information - You want to make sure that you have all the contact information for anyone who needs to be notified during an emergency. This is good advice, both for medical emergencies that involve you while you are away, and emergencies that involve your home and property while you are gone.
- Legal Documents - Be sure to prepare all your legal documents so that someone in Canada can act on your behalf in case of damage to your home or property or for banking and monetary issues. A power of attorney for medical decisions and financial decisions is a good bet.
- Money and Credit - Be sure to request new credit cards before you leave if the ones you have might expire while you are gone. If needed, also apply for more credit for emergency use and notify your bank and credit card companies of your departure and destinations so that if a charge shows up in Mexico, they do not freeze your account.
- Travel with Pets - Be sure to check the requirements for bringing pets to the US and other countries. You do not want to have to go through a quarantine period. Be sure to get documentation from your vets about vaccines, and shots that show your pet is protected and free of disease. If you are bringing pet medication to the US or Mexico, be sure it is approved and that you have all the documentation needed to show that the medication is for the pet. Bring an extra lead and a carrier in case you have to leave your RV.
Prepare Your Home and Property
- Mail - Be sure to make arrangements for your mail while you are gone. Stop newspaper subscriptions, and ask the postal service to hold your mail or arrange for someone to pick up your mail on a regular basis.
- Review your home's insurance - While you are gone, be sure your home is adequately insured against damage, burglary, and catastrophic events, such as wildfires. Be sure to discuss with your broker the fact that you will be gone and if needed, add a contact to your policy that can help make decisions for you or sign documents for you if needed.
- Subscription Services - If needed, have monthly services turned off while you are gone so that you are not paying for them. These include internet. Your home security system might require the use of your phone service to function, so check to make sure.
- Water and Gas - If not needed, consider having both shut off to prevent winter damage to pipes. If you plan to leave the heat on in your house, arrange to have the home checked periodically to ensure all is well.
- Lights- Set up times to make it appear that you are home and alert your neighbours that you will be gone and tell them who should be checking on your house. This helps them spot suspicious activity and potential burglars.
Plan your trip so that you know the routes and opportunities before you leave. This allows you to maximize your adventures while minimizing the stress. Heading south for the winter is a very rewarding experience and a trip that is full of opportunities to see the world and make new friends.