For those who’re not aware of it yet, the term ‘snowbirds’ is used quite fondly these days to refer to people who travel or ‘migrate’ to warmer, southern destinations during the cold winter months.
Even dictionary.com has an informal definition of the term listed on its website.
So, if you’re a snowbird yourself, it’s time to start your engines. Well, it’s almost time.
As we say goodbye to summer and begin our descent into fall (and then finally winter, ugh!), it’s time to start planning your customary southern migration during the colder months.
Due to its proximity, the United States of America has always been one of the most common, preferred, and easily accessible destinations for Saskatchewanians and Canadians.
However, for the past two years, due to COVID-19 rules and regulations, snowbirds have been largely shut out from visiting the United States by car. This year though things have eased up.
Now that the border-crossing rules have relaxed, snowbirds are anxious to start flocking south again. But before you start planning your trip, here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your safety.
1. Stay updated with vaccinations and regulations
At the time of writing this blog in September 2022, all visitors to the United States of America still need to be fully vaccinated to enter the country by either land or by air.
Just in case you’re wondering what constitutes a fully vaccinated traveller, you can find detailed information about the same on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
In addition to vaccinations, all travellers returning to Canada must still use the Canadian government’s ArriveCAN app and input all mandatory information at least 72 hours before arriving.
You can check all the latest Canadian rules online or use the Sherpa tool on our website.
2. Get your travel insurance
Having travel insurance is highly recommended for not just international travel, but all travel. In fact, we vote for it to be a part of your travel essentials checklist, along with sunscreen and your passport. 😉
A big reason for that is that visiting a hospital in the U.S. can prove to be a very costly affair.
Unless you’re okay with shelling out a large amount of money without any hesitation during a medical emergency, we strongly advise purchasing travel insurance when you head out.
For those wondering about the coverage under your provincial healthcare system, it becomes limited once you’re outside Saskatchewan and irrelevant once you’re outside Canada.
Therefore, to be prepared for any emergency and tackle those unexpected expenses with confidence, get travel insurance and travel with peace of mind.
CAA PRO TIP: If you’re an existing CAA member, you can talk to a CAA travel consultant and get a plan tailored to your medical history. Plus, enjoy a 10% discount as an exclusive member benefit.
3. Plan your route with travel tools
If you’re planning to drive your way south, it’s worth making a proper trip out of the journey.
Use CAA Saskatchewan planning tools such as the Digital Tour Books, Arrival Guides, and our Online Travel Guide, to plan your travel route to perfection.
Recommended Reading: 8 Travel Tips and Tools for Planning That Perfect Vacation
From stopping to smell the roses to staying over for a steak fondue dinner in Medora, North Dakota, you’ll never regret taking longer to reach those southern states because of the memories you’ll make on the way.
4. Inspect your vehicle before leaving
When taking a road trip, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
A seasonal check by your local mechanic will help minimize the risk of a breakdown while travelling. Check tires for tire tread depth, proper inflation, and signs of any damage, such as bulges or cracks.
Top up your oil, carry extra windshield washer fluid, and a set of booster cables too. You might also consider travelling with winter tires, depending on your route and destination.
Remember to do everything before you drive. Avoid distractions and be alert while driving. Target about eight hours behind the wheel per day to avoid fatigue. Visit our website for more smart driving tips.
CAA PRO TIP: Before leaving, remember to check the weather and road conditions. Most online map apps these days include traffic information with notes on construction and road closures.
5. Be prepared for roadside emergencies
Speaking of being safe, always be prepared to tackle any roadside emergency that could befall you.
From flat tires to battery issues to engine problems to running out of fuel, there are a variety of things that could go wrong during your road trip.
Which is why it’s advisable that you think about all plausible scenarios before hitting the road to overcome that surprise element in case you do run into an emergency.
Having roadside assistance is always a blessing as it allows you to travel with confidence and peace of mind. If you’re an existing CAA member, remember that you’re covered all over Canada and the U.S.A.
An added benefit of having a CAA membership is CAA Rewards® – one of Canada’s largest loyalty programs – that allows you to enjoy exclusive discounts on select hotels and restaurants on the way.