It’s that time of year once again when the cooler weather starts to set in and the truly cold months are looming ever closer on the horizon. Northern snowbirds everywhere are already preparing for the journey south for the annual escape to the sub-tropical climates in states like Florida, Arizona, Texas and California. As you’re preparing for your journey to gorgeous coastal regions, inland escapes, or breathtaking desert areas, there are some important tips to keep in mind.
RV and Tow Vehicle Inspections
It’s extremely important to ensure that your RV and tow vehicle are in the very best condition before you set off for your winter destination. Here are some practical tips on making sure you’re getting everything properly inspected:
- Have a local auto shop inspect your tow vehicle before departing; you never know if you may have missed something and it’s always a good precaution to take.
- Have a local RV service center inspect tires, brakes, axle bearings, etc.
- Check the air conditioning to ensure it is working properly. A broken air conditioner in a hotter climate makes for an uncomfortable RV experience.
- Add tank cleaner to your rigs waste tanks.
Winterizing Your Home
If you’re planning on being away from your home for several months, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to winterize your home or leave all your systems running and hope for the best. If you decide to winterize your home while you’re away, you can follow these simple steps:
- Turn off your heating system.
- Drain your plumbing.
Other items to keep in mind with regard to your home are:
- Having your mail forwarded to your winter destinations or having a family member or friend collect it for you.
- Arranging to have someone check your home regularly to prevent break-ins and vandalism. You will want to notify your local police department to make them aware that an unknown person will be in the neighborhood checking on your home from time to time.
- Install variable light timers in your home to increase the appearance that your home is regularly occupied.
Packing for Your Trip
The best way to begin planning to pack for your trip is to create a checklist of items to take with you such as:
- Clothing (warm and cold)
- First aid kit
- Housewares (dishware, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, fire extinguisher, batteries, flashlight, etc.)
- Entertainment (tablets, laptops, books and magazines, board games, etc.)
- Creating a menu with non-perishable food items for your journey.
- Other items (fishing poles, hiking gear, art and craft supplies, diving equipment, etc.)
You will also want to purge old items that you haven’t used in over a year with the exception of safety items to help manage the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio (GVWR) of your RV. You can find this information in the owner’s manual. Overloading your rig can affect the handling and performance of your vehicle, which can lead to potentially unsafe situations depending on road and weather conditions.
In addition to all of the usual preparations, international travelers, such as those heading to the southern states from Canada, must deal with extra traveling duties like:
- Visa fees and length of stay deadlines.
- Extended health insurance that provides coverage in the United States.
- International cell phone and internet service.
- Budgeting for extensive fuel costs for the journey there and back again.