Flying South for the Winter

Many people consider flying south for the harsh, freezing winters to spend them on the white sand, by the ocean, basking in the sunshine.

Sandy BeachesHow do you know if this is the right decision for you? How will you know if this is what you need to enhance your retirement? Many think about becoming a snowbird in their retirement because they feel this is the first time  in their lives with no work pressure, no caring for young children, and they feel they have finally earned a breath of relaxation. There are a few thing you need to be aware of before you give yourself permission for takeoff.

You must consider your current income.  Your income is now likely fixed, unlike before.  Be sure to shop around, looking at different accommodations and prices, what may be included in some packages, and ensure this is something you are able to spend your finances on.  The last thing you want is to have overspent when on a fixed income.

If you are traveling with a spouse or companion, discuss finances ahead of time. Plan what will be spent and be sure to give yourselves time to consider the options of where you will stay, what you will be spending on food and drink, if you will have transportation while there. If you have family, you will be away from them for months at a time. Think about how that will affect them and how it will impact you.  Discuss with those family members how often you will be in touch with them, and if they are able to visit you.

If you do end up flying south for the winter, you may choose to rent or own a home. Depending on what works best for you, you may choose either- some recommend turning off heat and hydro in your original home to cut down on the bills. Some choose to have a live-in house sitter, in which case you will need to keep those things on. Depending on your financial situation, you may choose to have the house sitter live there only paying bills.

Some people may also use a sitter for their pets, however most people will bring their pets  with them.  If you do, ( and you probably will) you may bring them on the flight with you. Almost all airlines charge a fee for bringing a pet on the airplane. If you end up driving down south, ensure your pet has an abundance of food and water. Be sure your pet has seen the veterinarian  and has all vaccines up to date. Some airlines will require  certification for a pet before flying.

If you choose to snowbird, you will want to choose insurance that cover them from state to state ( if American). If flying to the US from Canada, be sure to have Traveler’s insurance that will cover you in case of an emergency. Canadians are able to travel to the USA for six months provided they possess a passport. Bringing a birth certificate along with your passport is best.

Snowbirds may want to anticipate that they could need to get home very quickly in case of an emergency such as family illness or death. It is recommended to set money aside for flights home should this be the case.

Some novice snowbirds are nervous about making friends. An important thing to remember is that all snowbirds were once in the same position.  Within the community, and on the beach, there is ample time to make new lifelong friends you can see yearly.