Are you sick and tired of the cold winter weather and looking to get away? Millions of retirees and older adults travel south each year during the colder months, skipping winter altogether. If you’re looking to escape the cold and snow, and become a snowbird yourself, you’ll need to prepare yourself with everything you need for your longer stay. You also want to pack wisely—no matter how you’re getting to your destination and where you’re staying, your space will likely be limited. With my perfect packing list for first-time snowbirds, you can be sure you didn’t forget anything, and focus on relaxing and having fun.
Clothes—For Both Hot and Cold
The number one thing taking up space in your suitcase will be clothing. It’s best to pack necessary items that you can easily mix and match—khakis, jeans, blue or navy shorts or capris. Bring tops and pants that are lightweight and can be layered.
Don’t forget to pack a few sweaters and a light jacket. Even in the hottest parts of the country, January and February can have temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. You won’t necessarily need your warmest winter coat, but it’ll be cold sometimes, especially at night. Also, think about what shoes you’ll need, based on the activities you’ll be doing. Bring sandals, tennis shoes, and hiking shoes, if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.
Recreation or Hobby Equipment
What will you be doing the whole time you’re away? If you have a hobby or interest that you haven’t been able to devote much time before, now is the time to pick that back up. Space permitting, bring along materials for you to work on those pastimes.
Many snowbirds will want to bring a camera along to remember their trip. Whatever camera equipment you use, be sure to pack it with care. Don’t travel with the camera completely assembled, but rather take it apart and pack each part separately with padding. Don’t forget the charger.
Your time away during winter is a great time to catch up on any books you wanted to read. Unfortunately, not too many books will fit in a suitcase. You can either opt to pack a few books and visit a library or bookstore once you get there, or invest in a tablet or e-reader if you don’t already have one.
If outdoor sports are your thing—think golf, football, biking, or tennis—it may be better to buy a set of equipment, and leave it in an affordable storage unit near your snowbird rental. This idea could save space while you travel, and reduce the risk of damaging anything.
In the old days, camping trips or vacations often involved a whole trunk full of electronic devices—portable TV’s, GPS, stereos, radios, and alarm clocks. These days, nearly all of these large devices you can replace by a single one that has multifunctional capabilities. As long as you have access to the Internet, tablets and Smartphones can stream TV and music, and serve as a GPS. They also can work as an alarm clock or e-reader, so you can leave the bulky alarm clocks and books at home. By consolidating as many functions as possible into one set of electronics, you can save much-needed space in your temporary home, and also have fewer things to keep track. Remember chargers, cases, and any accessories you need to keep your device working.
If you’re currently getting your prescriptions filled on a monthly basis, you may need to ensure adjustments to have all of the medication you’ll need while you’re away. In particular, Schedule II drugs that are known to cause dependence, or have a history of prescription drug abuse will be difficult to get away from home.
With some of these medications, it’s hard to get some prescriptions filled out-of-state, and there may not always be covered. Schedule II, IV and V drugs shouldn’t be difficult to get filled elsewhere, if your doctor can fax the prescription. What kind of insurance you have will determine whether or not you will have to pay extra when abroad. National provider networks and many plans offered through the Affordable Care Act will usually cover out-of-state expenses. Medicare, however, may be harder to work with, and usually, includes within the state you live.
You can check with your insurance about mail-in prescriptions that will allow you to get up to three months of medication mailed to you at a time. You may be able to use an alternate address for the months you’re away from home.
You’ll need to carry important documents like health and auto insurance information, rental leases, ID’s, and others when you’re traveling. To avoid the risk of these things getting lost, you can opt for electronic forms rather than paper copies of some documents. For things like your ID, you should always have the hard copy with you; but for insurance information and other materials, you can scan them and save them electronically, so that you can access them anytime. If you’re not comfortable going completely without paper copies, do both—keep the original and an electronic copy. This way, your bases are covered in case anything goes missing.
A lot of snowbirds opt to take their pets with them during their stay. While you get your prescriptions in order, make sure to also get ample refills of any medication for your pet to bring with you. It’s also a good idea to bring their medical records—wherever you may be renting may require proof that your dog’s, at least, up-to-date with a rabies vaccine.
Also, consider whether you’ll be buying other pet essentials when you get there, or taking your own from home. Dogs will need a leash, bed, collar, dishes, etc.—include these on your packing list or your list of things to pick up once you get there. Bring a favorite toy or blanket along with them, too.
Some cities have bans on certain dog breeds. If your particular pet isn’t welcome, make arrangements for them to stay elsewhere while you’re gone, or reconsider where you’ll be staying.
Appliances and Cooking Supplies
You’ll need to cook at one point during your stay down south. Some people lug things like microwaves, coffee pots, and other small appliances from home each year. If you own, you can buy a set there and leave it in your home or RV. If you’re renting and can’t bring everything you need, neither of these choices may be the best option. Appliances, pots, pans, and table settings can take up lots of space. Many snowbirds opt to purchase cheaper sets of these things near their rental and place them in self-storage during the summer months until they return.
Final Packing Tips
Regardless of what your individual needs are, a few packing tips can save you a lot of time and space. Check into mailing your things back and forth rather than packing them—especially if you’re flying, this may be cheaper than bringing all of your stuff on the plane. Don’t pack smaller items like toiletries. Instead, just wait to buy those things when you get there. Don’t forget to set up mail forwarding, and to make arrangements for someone to check in on your permanent home while you’re gone.
If your ready to get out of the snow and into the sun, allow me to help place you in your dream home. Let’s get started by filling our your information below and I will get back in touch with you very soon!
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