RV Snowbirding: 10 Tips For Heading South This Winter
The definition of an RV snowbird is someone who moves from the northern area of the country to a southern state in the winter. Snowbirds can be retired people, work campers, or anyone who moves back and forth seasonally.
RV snowbirding used to be made up of primarily retired people, but these days, it can be just about anyone. We move our “home” from one place to another about every six months, avoiding any winter weather if we can. There are, however, a few things that I don’t have to be concerned about since my home is always with me.
Check out these RV snowbirding tips to make your trip safer and less stressful, whether you are full time in your RV or spend part of the year in your home.
1. Choose your RV snowbirding destination wisely
You probably need to answer this question first. If you are planning on staying in a warmer climate for a number of months, you will need to get your RV resort reservations in early – probably at least a year in advance. You might be able to find a place with a cancellation, but it is also likely a popular RV park in a southern destination will have a waiting list. You can also break up your trip by staying maybe a few weeks to a month in different places.
Heading south can mean a lot of things, depending on where you originate from. Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi are all great places to go, but you might get some hurricane action if you’re there in the fall. Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California are also popular states to spend the winter. These states can get some hot weather in the early fall.
If you like hiking, biking, or kayaking, or you are into birdwatching, or RV parks with lots of activities, these will certainly dictate where you decide to go.
Do your research, plan ahead, and check out reviews on campgroundreviews.com to get the full scoop on places you would like to stay.
2. Get your RV ready for your trip
This is an important step to get ready for your winter trip. Get your RV thoroughly checked out before you head south. Here are a few important things to do.
- Check your tires
- Check your batteries
- Inspect the inside for damage from pests, weather, or age
- Flush your water system
- Sanitize your water system
- Check for leaky pipes
- Replace propane tanks
- Check appliances
- Extend slides and awnings and inspect for damage
- Check brake lights and blinkers
- Restock supplies
3. Have your mail forwarded
Once you have your RV checked over, you need to make sure a few things are taken care of at your home base before you leave. Make sure you hold or forward your mail. Also be sure newspaper subscriptions are stopped or suspended. These are all things that will make your home less vulnerable to thieves. Have a family member or trusted friend come by regularly to check the house, mow the lawn, etc.
4. Winterize your home
These are a few of the must-do chores to perform before you leave your house for the winter.
- Lower your heat but don’t turn it off completely. You don’t want your pipes to freeze. Around 55 degrees is a good temperature to set the thermostat.
- Turn down the water heater. Check to see if your water heater has a “vacation mode.” Some of the newer models do.
- Turn off the water.
- Activate alarm systems.
- Leave lights on or invest in motion-sensing exterior lights or timers.
- Unplug electronics.
- Clean out your refrigerator and remove trash.
5. Pack the correct clothes and gear
Once you arrive at your destination, you never know if there might be a shift in the weather. We were in Port Aransas, Texas in 2021 when the “big freeze” hit Texas. As I said earlier, all our gear is with us, so we have clothing for warm and cold weather.
If you are packing to go to Miami, you probably won’t need a coat, but it can’t hurt to throw in a jacket and jeans just in case. Many places in the southwest are warm during the day and can get pretty chilly in the evening and at night. Be sure to take along cold weather gear for your RV such as a heated hose, double check your propane levels, and make sure your furnace is working well.
6. Plan health appointments before you go
Depending on whether your health insurance is state-specific, you will likely need to have any health appointments done before you leave and make sure all prescriptions are filled.
Most of the big name pharmacies can simply go on its own online system and get your prescription filled in another state. Walmart is great for this and there are stores everywhere. Just make sure you have enough refills from your physician and you shouldn’t have an issue.
7. Follow these travel safety tips
Be sure to plan your route ahead of time. Know about road closures in advance, if possible, and be sure to note any states with COVID travel restrictions, although these are less than they were last year.
If you plan to boondock, make a few calls to Walmart stores or Cracker Barrel restaurants along the way. Check for their requirements, if any, to boondock in their parking lots. We planned to stay at a Cracker Barrel on a recent trip, called ahead to make sure we were allowed, and when we arrived, the parking lot was full to the brim with RVs. We managed to find a spot, but you might want to have an alternate plan in mind.
For added safety, keep your trips short, 5-6 hours or less, and avoid driving after dark. Avoidable accidents usually happen when you are tired and pushing your driving limits.
8. Know how to travel internationally
Those who are coming from Canada will need to check things such as visa fees and length of stay deadlines. Keep in mind what you will need for international cell and internet service, and be sure to budget for extra fuel costs.
If you plan to extend your trip to Mexico, you will also need to be aware of regulations when crossing the border, particularly if you travel with pets.
9. Plan to have fun when you arrive
So, you have picked a place that will meet your needs for the winter and you’ve done your due diligence. Your RV is ready for the road and you have your trip planned.
Once you arrive, don’t forget to have fun exploring the area, the amenities and activities available, introduce yourself to your neighbors, and have the best and warmest winter ever.
10. Check out these helpful resources
For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than Campground Reviews and RV Trip Wizard. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.