Every winter approximately 500,000 Canadians travel to warmer temperatures to avoid the worst of what winter here in Canada has to offer. Following the path of many migrating birds, these travellers have come to be known as our snowbirds, and they are normally gone from three to six months of the year.
Although quite a few snowbirds have already flown the coop, there are still many lingering here in the north ready to head out after the upcoming festive Christmas dinner. Whether you are a seasoned winter traveller, or if you are venturing south for the first time, there are a few things to add to your checklist before you go.
- Heath Care
For very good reasons, this is the number one item on the checklist. Be sure you are very familiar with your coverage and in particular, how long you can remain south without losing your health care benefits. If you are unsure of your health care benefits or are in need of a travel insurance plan talk to one of our experts by clicking here.
For more information about Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/ohip/ohipfaq_mn.aspx
- It is also a good idea to have a quick check up with your doctor, dentist and eye doctor too before you go.
- Carry a copy of eye glass prescriptions if you have one – in case you break or lose your glasses while you are away.
- If you take any regular prescriptions, ensure you have ordered enough to cover you for the entire length of your trip.
- Always pack your prescriptions in their original bottles – never combine them into one bottle.
- Your home.
For your own peace of mind, it is wise to have your biggest investment taken care of while you are away.
- Have someone stop by to look in your home frequently, keeping it looking lived-in and occupied. Not only will this help prevent theft or vandalism, it will also help in the event there is damage to your home to have someone notified as soon as possible.
- Have your mail forwarded.
- Advise your home insurance provider of your travel plans. They may have some good advice to pass on to you. In the winter months if you are gone for an extended period of time it may be a good idea to maintain your water lines.
- Turn your heat down – but not off! You certainly do not need to come home to damaged pipes due to freezing.
- Travel Documents.
Forgot to pack your bathing suit? No worries, you can always buy a new one. But, do not leave home without current and up-to-date travel documents.
- Check your identification to ensure it does not expire while you are away. This includes your drivers licence, passport and health card too. The last thing you want is to be stranded at some airport or border crossing because your identification has expired – and it happens all too often!
- Get the travel insurance coverage you need before you go. In case off illness or accident, you want to ensure you are covered while you are away. It is important to have this coverage and even more so to understand the terms of your specific policy.
- Do you need a travel visa? Depending on where you are headed, a visa may be necessary.
- Stay in touch.
It takes just a few minutes a week – or every other week to give your loved ones peace of mind. Stay connected.
- Let your family and close friends know of your travels plans, including departure and return dates.
- Ensure they can reach you in case of an emergency.
- You can easily check in with them frequently using text, email, Skype, or FaceTime but make sure you have a phone plan or are using WiFi before doing so! The bills can be pretty hefty otherwise.
With everything at home safe and secure, and with your travel documents and insurance in hand, you are sure to relax and enjoy your well deserved extended vacation in the sun! Have fun!