Seven helpful travel tips for Canadian snowbirds
Every year, many Canadians travel south to spend the winter months in warmer climates. And if you count yourself among these snowbirds, swapping your winter coats and boots for t-shirts and flip-flops in a sunny location is probably an easy decision to make.
In this light, we outline some tips to help you prepare for this year’s snowbird travel season.
1. Plan out your stay in advance.
A stress-free snowbird experience starts with ample planning. This includes deciding where you want to go, how long you want to stay there, how you intend to get there and the type of accommodation you will stay in.
If you need some inspiration for your destination, a 2021 survey from Snowbird Advisor found that the United States is the top destination for Canadian snowbirds, with 83% of survey respondents saying that they plan on spending their winter there. In second place was Mexico, followed by the Caribbean. As for the length of stay, the survey also found that most respondents plan on spending three months or more away at their destination.
And before you leave, make sure to verify the terms of your home insurance coverage to confirm that you can leave your home empty over a prolonged period. You should also consider asking your tax advisor if there are any rules or regulations you need to know about the country you’ll be travelling to.
2. Make sure your healthcare costs are covered.
Your provincial health insurance may not cover all your healthcare needs outside of Canada, so it pays to look into purchasing travel insurance to ensure that you are covered in your destination should the need arise. And it is also helpful to ensure that the insurance policy you choose covers costs associated with emergency medical assistance and travel if you need to come back to Canada.
3. Pack enough medication for the duration of your stay.
It is a good idea to make sure you bring a sufficient supply of prescription medication with you when travelling, as well as a letter from your doctor explaining your medical condition. It also pays to read up on the rules and requirements around travelling with your medication to your destination.
For example, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires that prescription medications “should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container” and that a “valid prescription or doctor’s note is required on all medication entering the United States.”
4. Bring copies of all your important documents.
Since you will be away for an extended period, having copies of important documents such as leases, bookings, insurance, car registration papers and bank statements on hand will ensure that you can manage issues that may arise while you’re gone. You can also use them to demonstrate your itinerary to border officials and prove that you will return to Canada after your stay.
5. Have your mail forwarded to your winter address.
Signing up for Canada Post’s temporary mail forwarding service will allow you to keep receiving important letters, documents or correspondence that may be sent to your primary residential address while you are away.
6. Winter-proof your home.
Taking the time to protect your home from the elements before you leave will give you peace of mind that your house will get through winter even while you are away. Some easy ways to winter-proof your home include servicing your furnace, cleaning out your gutters and replacing the batteries of your fire alarm.
You should also consider arranging for someone to shovel snow from your driveway and sidewalks while you’re away. Not only will this keep your home well-maintained during winter, but it can also deter potential thieves from targeting your home.
7. Apply for a good travel credit card before you leave.
A good travel-friendly credit card comes with a number of useful benefits. For example, the Home Trust Preferred Visa offers no exchange fees on foreign transactions.
With Home Trust’s Preferred Visa, you will have a flexible financial tool to make your snowbird adventure a more rewarding experience. Learn more by visiting our website.
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