If you’ve reached a point in your life where an extended sojourn to sunnier climes for the winter has become a reality, well, yay you! But you also likely know how complicated the drill can get. The list of details to attend to before you leave home is often long and laborious.
Here are a few tips for those new to the skipping-winter game, so you can tick all the right boxes and reach escape velocity in no time at all:
1. Create and keep a checklist of things to turn off or turn down: furnace or air conditioning, central vacuuming, washer-dryer, TV-phone-WiFi. Unplug everything that doesn’t need to be on, because appliances use power even when they’re not turned on.
2. Clean out the fridge of all items that will spoil while you are gone, which, if you’re a Snowbird, is very likely most of them. Stash whatever you need to in the freezer, including dry items that may expire.
3. Invest in a home security system and consider one that also monitors the detection of heat and water or carbon monoxide. If you don’t want to go with a service with a monthly fee, you can keep it simple with a few security cameras linked to your WiFi and phone.
4. Set up a security light system that will go on at dusk. Make sure this includes an outside light, particularly if you have anything valuable in a back shed or workshop. Alert a neighbour to this system, so they can warn you if the hydro goes out, which may in turn mean the furnace has also gone out.
5. Go to the post office and have your mail redirected to your southern retreat or stopped all together. Put a No Flyers note on your mailbox to side-step all that. Have the neighbours or a relative watch your mailbox in case it gets overloaded with anything extraneous.
6. Set up all your bills so that you can pay them online or that they are paid automatically via credit card every month.
7. Make sure your passport is valid, but also that it won’t expire while you are away.
8. Make sure valuables and super important paperwork like your wills are in a fire-proof safe that is bolted to the basement floor.
9. Take out enough travel insurance to cover you fully while you are away for this extended period of time. Make sure it includes all health essentials, trip cancellation or interruption, lost luggage, etc. Read the fine print and make sure you understand what exactly the coverage includes. Phone the insurer if you are unclear about anything or have questions.
10. Get your doctor and pharmacist to help you amass enough of your regular medications to last the entire trip, plus another couple of weeks just in case plans change.
11. Make arrangements to have your snow cleared from the sidewalk and salt or sand put down as needed, recruiting a groundskeeping service, a relative or a neighbourhood teenager who might welcome the extra money.
It’s important to enlist a trusted friend or family member who can check on your home periodically, to give you the peace of mind to fully enjoy your time away. And, don’t forget the sunscreen!