Every year in Canada when the cold weather rolls around, many people dream they could be anywhere else. Somewhere warm and tropical that they can rest and relax on a beach. The reality is, this isn’t just a dream for many! Many Canadians flock to warmer areas when the snow and frigid temperatures roll around. But, how exactly do they do it? Luckily, we’ve got the top travel tips for new snowbirds, and how you can become one.

What is a snowbird?

“Snowbirds” are a term for people who leave behind the frigid cold winters of Canada and stay the length of the season in a warmer climate, such as Florida or Mexico. According to a report done by Statistics Canada, nearly 300,000 to 375,000 Canadians travel to the US or Mexico during the winter months. If you’re looking to join many Canadians who do so, there are various things you must first consider. Unfortunately, becoming a snowbird is much more complex than simply packing your bags and heading on a plane. This is why it is crucial to be prepared!

Tips on becoming a new snowbird

1. Decide if you need a travel visa

Wondering if you need a visa is one of the most commonly asked questions when people are looking to become snowbirds. Generally speaking, many people who flock to a warmer climate choose American destinations, such as Florida, California, or Arizona. Technically, you do not need a travel visa to become a snowbird. However, this comes with limitations. Even if you or a family member owns property in America, you are only eligible to stay in the country for six months without a visa. If you do intend on staying longer, it is important to look into the rules and regulations of the country you are visiting. This is because many differentiate when it comes to obtaining and using a travel visa.

2. Do not cancel your car insurance

If you plan on leaving your car at home while you’re away for a few months, canceling your car insurance is not recommended. This is because car insurance companies will flag you and your vehicle for months that go uninsured. These will leave you with increased rates when the time comes when you decide to resume your policy. This is definitely one of our top tips for new snowbirds to make note of.

Instead, you can save money by downgrading your insurance policy to stored or parked car insurance. Tell them you are looking to become a snowbird! Alternatively, a simple basic comprehensive coverage plan. This way, if your car is damaged due to flooding or involved in a break-in while you are gone, you will still be covered. At the same time, you won’t be paying the usual price of a full coverage package while you are away.

3. What to do if you’re sick

In most provinces, you must reside in your home province for at least six months in order to qualify for your health care insurance. In Ontario, you must only be gone for a total of 212 days out of 365, or you risk losing your coverage. A hospital stay in America can cost thousands of dollars, so purchasing the proper travel insurance before leaving is crucial to save yourself the money. This is recommended because most provincial health care plans will only cover the bare minimum when it comes to health care in America and utilities, such as ambulances and hospital stays, are far from covered.

On top of travel insurance, a good precaution is to visit your family doctor and dentist to make sure everything is okay before you leave. On top of this, it is a good idea to make sure you are stocked up on your prescriptions, including eyewear. This will save you a lot of hassle if something happens while you are away enjoying the sun.

4. Contact your bank

Contrary to popular belief, contacting your bank is still a good idea before leaving on a long trip or getaway. Though financial situations are more sophisticated when it comes to detecting fraud, staying on the safe side is still of the utmost importance. Before you leave, contact your bank and credit card company and inform them you will be out of the country for an extended period of time. There is nothing worse than being on vacation only to realize your bank has locked one of your cards. Save yourself the shorter trip or the long phone call and make sure you inform the right people beforehand!

5. Keep your home safe

All snowbirds should make sure their home is safe when left unoccupied. The last thing you want is to come home to a house that has been broken into. Luckily, isure already has you covered with our tips to protect your home while you’re away. It is important to remember that burglars look particularly for homes that look like they are unoccupied. This means having lights that will turn on and off remotely to deter thieves at night, as well as sensor lights on your porch.

Another good idea is to have someone stop by your home now and then to check in. By having someone pick up mail and shovel your driveway, it will seem less likely that someone is away. Additionally, many home insurance companies will require someone to check in on your home now and then while you are away. Make sure to check with your insurance provider to see what is expected of you when you leave your home for a while.

We hope these travel tips for new snowbirds are helpful if you’re looking to flee the cold this winter. As always, having proper insurance coverage in your absence will make your trip to a warmer climate much more relaxing. Contact us or request a quote with us today.

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