Monday, April 28, 2014

Counting: 10 How to be a Snowbird - Nuts and Bolts Ideas

My husband and I have been traveling in the winter for so many years it is old hat for us now. I forget that there are always beginners that need to learn the ropes. I suppose I should share a few ideas with you that are buzzing around in my brain.

I would like to say that we "normally" leave at a specific time but there is no such thing as normal. We are just like the hummingbird that is still hanging around using my feeder. We do what we want when we are free to do what we want.
Mt. Shasta, California in the Winter
Park Model Interior
Snowbird Lessons: (more here):
  1. Travel plan: We always travel so we will avoid bad weather. The snowbirds I know that come in January are generally flying in.  The have bought an inexpensive car to use while they are in the resort. If they come early in the fall and leave in April they can generally drive without bad weather worries
  2. Two of everything: Since we own a park model in an RV resort, we usually leave all our spices and staples in two places. But after the trip to Mexico where we had a small kitchen, I think I am going to come up with a portable spice stash that I can carry with me. Spices are very very expensive but it is not easy to cook without them.
  3. Clothes: When I came home last Spring I did not bring my winter things with me thinking I would be back in Arizona in October. It was not a smart move. I have sorted, classified and give away a lot of things. By condensing my wardrobe down to a "movable closet size" I have saved money and time.
  4. Storage:  You have to know that living in a very small space requires us to be creative with our storage. It is a bit like living on a boat. Every nook and cranny is used. For example, we need new suit cases. When I buy new, I am going to get the duffel bag type, maybe at REI. They will have rollers and a ridged back. I think that this type of suitcase will solve storage problems because they lay flat and can go under our bed. 
  5. Gas: Gas is a real consideration when we are traveling right now...the cost is outrageous. If we were to travel across country, we would take that into consideration when we planned our route. California, for example, has added so much tax and environmental requirement to their gas it has become very expensive. I admire their efforts but we will try to avoid buying as much as we can in that state. We fill the tank as close to the border as possible before entering the state.
  6. Save on Utilities: This one way we can afford to travel. The expenses are reduced dramatically. We always put everything on vacation at home. Gas company, water/sewer, garbage, tv service, internet service and electricity. If we don't turn off the electricity but decide to turn off the water (floods inside the house are a very bad thing) we always turn off the water heater. It will burn up without water.
  7. Security system: We have allowed a friend to store their car in our garage in the winter in the past. They paid us a little rent but better yet they came to give the house a check. That is very good. Our rain gutters clogged last winter and I think there would have been damage if they hadn't been checking on things. But when we have no one to check we turn on our security system. All the signs are in the windows and the system is visible from the front and back windows. We also make sure the rain gutters are cleaned thoroughly.
  8. Yard Work: A friend asked us about our yard. In the northwest, our yards go to sleep in November and wake back up in May. It sleeps while we are gone. If we leave before November, we clean the yard up, pull flowers and vegetable so no mess is created when it frosts. No worries there.
  9. Arrival Schedule: We always time our arrival in our RV resort for morning. We can open it up our park model, shop for groceries and heat it or cool it before bedtime. Most snowbirds in our resort do this. It does not even seem possible to arrive late in the day. We will have been gone for 6-8 months. Things will need to be done inside the park model. If we were still in our RV we did very much the same thing. Hooking up in the dark is not any fun and you can actually do some damage to your RV.
  10. How long to stay:  I need for you to know that snow birds do go home in the spring. It gets very hot. By the middle of April the park will be empty as will resorts all around. My advice is don't pay to stay beyond that time. You will not like it. We had friends that paid rent in advance and were committed for May. They regretted spending the money for something it turned out they didn't want. It was very hot and empty for the last month. I'm just saying!
So there you have it.



  1. I really appreciate this post, and picked up some good tips for our long term away-from-home RV travels in 2013!

  2. Great advice. Can't wait to get warm. We have my nephew check our townhouse every 3 days for insurance purposes.

  3. Tamara,

    I hope you also went to the link provided. I am still learning about this experience.


  4. Shelley,

    Does your insurance require that it be checked. I have never heard of this before.


  5. We are snowbirding for the first time this year. We leave Washington State January 1 and plan to arrive at our RV resort by January 5 or 6. Watching the passes, as are you.

    Good point to arrive in the morning. I hadn't even considered it!


  6. Linda,

    It is the little things like timing and planning that keep that first day doable. I am not getting any younger. However, I do not dread that first day like I used to. That is a good thing.


  7. The question was asked "How do you find an RV park if you do not have an RV?" Camper Life is the best source for parks. It should have information on the park, rentals and ratings. I would go to my local library and ask about it. They will be able to help you.


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