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Tips For Traveling Snowbirds

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Every year I talk to so many people who have traveled here from somewhere up North. Most arrive frazzled and have a mental list of things they should have done prior to leaving. I’ve jotted down a couple of helpful ideas:

Organize Your Finances

Before you head south be sure to get your finances in order. This can include setting up online banking and pre-authorized payments for bills; checking the expiry dates on your credit cards, debit cards, driver’s license, passport and house and vehicle insurance; and letting your credit card company and bank know where you’re going and how long you’ll be out of the area. Also, don’t forget to update your will and power of attorney. Take important papers with you. If you’ll be gone for tax season, take tax documents with you as well.

 Have mail forwarded

Arrange for mail forwarding. The U.S. Postal Service offers a premium mail forwarding service. Perhaps the service is costly but potentially worth the convenience; the fee is $17 a week, plus a $15 enrollment fee. You’ll receive all your mail once a week (including magazines, catalogs, etc.) in a neat priority mail box. Your permanent address is not changed.  If possible, pay all current bills before you leave, to avoid getting hit with late fees during the time lag before you receive your first mail package.

Click on this link for more information regarding mail forwarding: https://www.usps.com/manage/forward-mail.htm

 Get a Checkup

Be sure to go for a checkup at the doctor’s to ensure you’re in good health or aware of any precautions you should take in the following months. Renew prescriptions for a longer term if possible. Research medical care facilities in the area.

Home Security and Maintenance

Before you leave, be sure to prepare your home. This may include arranging someone to pick up your mail, check-in on the house every week or so, shovel snow, ensure that all your alarm systems are active, setting your answering machine, adding extra security like timers for lights, putting away all valuables, and etc. In an effort to be green, make sure you unplug all electrical appliances, clear the kitchen and fridge of any perishable foods, and keep your heating to a minimum temperature so that pipes don’t freeze. Here are some more tips for winterizing your home: http://www.wikihow.com/Winterize-a-Vacant-Home

 Emergency contact information

Keep all emergency contact information handy for your use on the road, including a family member back at home, family doctor, lawyer, financial planner, travel agent, etc. Make sure your home-based family member also has the information, along with your itinerary and on-the-road contact information.


Roll, don’t fold.  Many travel experts agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they’re less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.

  • Know your airline’s baggage-fee policy. Figuring out the airlines’ tricky baggage-fee policies is important to any packing strategy. This is something you might even want to do prior to buying your plane ticket, especially if you’re set on bringing a checked bag or two. Consider flying on Southwest or JetBlue, both of which permit at least one free checked bag on domestic flights.
  • Follow the 3-1-1 rule. Attempt to bring a large bottle of shampoo or a full-size gel deodorant through the security line and the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff, holding you up in line in the process. So get familiar with the agency’s rules: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag. It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. Read more about this on the TSA blog. http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/08/traveling-with-medication.html
  • Use your personal item wisely. It’s standard for airlines to permit each traveler to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard planes. This personal item is subject to specific size requirements (these vary by airline), but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. Bring the largest tote bag you have to maximize your on-board items, stash your smaller, every day purse inside!

Reminder: Don’t forget your swimsuit- The Colony’s private island is accessible by water taxi 7 days a week!