Snowbirds 
pack your bags, load up the RV

Who Are RV Snowbirds?

RV snowbirds comprise three different species of winter travelers:

  1. Northern residents who pack up their main residence, hop into their RV and temporarily relocate to a second home, vacation rental or rented RV spot in a Sun Belt state.
  2. Full-time RVers who follow the sun to warmer states during winter to avoid dealing with winter’s wrath on RV house systems like plumbing and heating.
  3. Seasonal “workampers” who relocate their RV to areas where work is more plentiful and tolerable, such as gate guarding jobs in Texas and Amazon warehouse fulfillment jobs throughout the West.

Should You Head to the Coast or the Desert?

Many people don’t realize that to escape cold temperatures during winter, you have to head pretty far south –  even New Mexico is exceptionally chilly.

As an RV snowbird, your winter migration route will mostly be limited to two geographies:

Coastal areas found in popular Southeast destinations like:

Desert landscapes in the West including:

Make A Break For Mexico?

If you’re up for an adventure that’s beyond what most North American RVers are willing to experience, fly south with the thousands of international RVers who head to Mexico, which offers the warmest winter weather and extremely cheap camping accommodations.

Most travelers will arrive in Mexico with an RV caravan tour, while a few brave souls will find a good destination on their own.

Deciding to travel outside the U.S. brings up many other considerations like fuel costs, personal security, vehicle and health insurance, tourist visas and more.

A Mexico snowbird adventure requires lots of advance planning that won’t be covered in this article, but if you head on over to Mexico Mike you can learn about RVing in Mexico from the web’s biggest authority on the subject.

Decide If You’re a People Person Or A Hermit

Ask yourself: how many or how few people you want to be around? Do you enjoy the constant camaraderie of other RVers or is solitude and quiet more your speed?

Each experience comes with its own benefits and drawbacks that affect everything from the proximity of your neighbors, to itinerary planning, to how much it costs for your RV campsite

In the Southeast, the sheer density of the snowbird population means that favorite destinations like Florida are packed by long-term visitors.

Before You Go: How To Prepare For RV Snowbirding

Escaping to a warmer winter climate doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always be in t-shirts and flip flops. Depending on your departure date from the Northern latitudes, you can be subjected to everything from snow to freezing fog on your way south for winter or on your springtime return trip.

Once you arrive at your winter destination, it’s not uncommon to experience occasional wild temperature shifts – sometimes a region can plunge from daytime temps in the 80s down into the 50s almost overnight.

No matter where you go, random deep freezes are always a possibility so keep this in mind when packing your clothes and outfitting your RV to survive freezing temperatures.

If you’re the type of RVer who enjoys tempting fate by putting off a departure date until late Fall, consider leaving your rig winterized until you hit the road to avoid sudden damage by unexpected cold snaps.

RV snowbirds who own property need to tie up loose ends long before their departure date:

  • What will you do about your mail? Will you use a mail forwarding service for RVers or have a relative or friend take care of it for you?
  • Your house will also need someone to look after it. Can you hire someone to stop by and check for things like fallen trees and security?
  • Will you winterize your home or leave all systems running and hope for the best?

Also, Canadian RV snowbirds will need to deal with extra international travel duties like Visa fees and length of stay deadlines, extended health insurance that provides coverage in the United States, international cell and Internet service, and budgeting for extensive fuel costs while heading south and when returning to Canada.

All RVers who fly south for winter will need to take care of details like:

Snowbirds, Escape The Cold In These Florida Destinations

Florida Snowbirds

Wintering | Paradise Coast | First Coast | Naples Snowbirds | paradise-beaches |

The Villages. ...Punta Gorda. ...Venice. ...St. Petersburg. ...Jensen Beach. ...Fort Myers. ...Fort Pierce. ...Hollywood Beach.

Choosing to winter in the Southeast 

Choosing to winter in the Southeast requires you to make lodging plans at least a few months ahead of your arrival date. 

Public lands are nearly non-existent, which rules out cheap boondocking, while even the most no-frills RV parks will fill up far in advance of the winter season, forcing you to abandon any thoughts of a carefree itinerary.

Before committing to an arrival date, do your homework about the park and its surroundings. If you end up hating it, the odds of being able to relocate to another park are slim to none.

In the West, you’ll have the freedom to roam

In the West, you’ll have the freedom to roam and you’ll enjoy more wide open spaces, fewer people and lower camping prices than parks in the Southeast.

In most locations like Arizona and Southern California, you’ll have the ability to change scenery as often as you like – from setting up a free campsite in isolated desert lands one week, to relocating to popular resort areas like Tucson and Palm Springs the next.

And although some busy snowbird areas like the Texas Hill Country can get overwhelmed with “Winter Texans,” you’ll usually have a good chance of landing a nice RV site even if you arrive without reservations.

In the Southwest, you can also settle into a routine if you don’t particularly enjoy roaming. Adventure is always there for the taking and it’s cheap too. You can move to another park or head out into Bureau of Land Management (BLM) dispersed camping areas that offer free or low cost camping.

In exchange for this freedom, you must be more self-reliant, adventurous, tolerant of changing environmental conditions and comfortable with off-grid living. Some things you can expect to experience while waiting out winter in the west include:

  • Dump station and water fill-up fees
  • Vast distances between fuel, shopping and services (for example in Quartzsite, where thousands of RVers descend each winter, there’s only one bank and one post office and waits can be extremely long)
  • Limited amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Illicit activity on the Mexican border
  • Border patrol and agricultural inspection stops
  • Wind and dust
  • Cold nighttime temperatures
  • Desert animals, insects and thorny plants (a hazard to pets)
  • A cash-only economy
  • Limited cell and Internet connectivity

If you head West for winter your cost of living will be lower but your RV should be well-built enough to withstand harsh desert weather

What Trade-Offs Can You Endure?
In the Southeast, RV snowbirding is easy once you find a good place that you can afford

You simply pull into the park and plug in, there’s nothing more to think about other than happy hour and pickleball.

Social activities are plentiful and you’ll need lots of sunscreen since that warm weather will encourage you to stay outdoors.

In addition, you’ll find lots of winter farmers’ markets in Florida. Once you’ve settled in for the duration, finding your groove is easy, but life isn’t ever that simple – is it?

In exchange for that exceptionally comfortable Southeast snowbird lifestyle you may encounter these trade-offs during your stay

  • Lack of privacy
  • Many dog breed restrictions
  • Few dog-friendly areas
  • Smaller RV spaces
  • Challenging RV parking conditions
  • Congested campgrounds
  • Higher prices for everything from rent to food to RV repairs.

In the Southwest, you can also settle into a routine if you don’t particularly enjoy roaming

Adventure is always there for the taking and it’s cheap too

You can move to another park or head out into Bureau of Land Management (BLM) dispersed camping areas that offer free or low cost camping.

In exchange for this freedom, you must be more self-reliant, adventurous, tolerant of changing environmental conditions and comfortable with off-grid living.

Some things you can expect to experience while waiting out winter in the west include

  • Dump station and water fill-up fees
  • Vast distances between fuel, shopping and services (for example in Quartzsite, where thousands of RVers descend each winter, there’s only one bank and one post office and waits can be extremely long)
  • Limited amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Illicit activity on the Mexican border
  • Border patrol and agricultural inspection stops
  • Wind and dust
  • Cold nighttime temperatures
  • Desert animals, insects and thorny plants (a hazard to pets)
  • A cash-only economy
  • Limited cell and Internet connectivity
  • If you head West for winter your cost of living will be lower but your RV should be well-built enough to withstand harsh desert weather.

RV Snowbirding With Solar Power

If you plan on extended boondocking out West, a good RV solar power system is a wise investment. It pays to learn about investing in a good RV solar power system long before you hit the road.

RV solar power needs vary from camper to camper so you’ll need to study your power consumption habits to size up your system.

In general it can be beneficial to buy a slightly larger one than you think you’ll need in order to prepare for unexpected power needs, like extended furnace use during cold snaps.

Solar panels on an RV

Rooftop solar panels and satellite Internet – a boondocker’s dream

A reliable, quiet generator is also a must since there will be occasions when the sun doesn’t shine long enough to keep you powered up.

Your neighbors will thank you for buying a super quiet generator like a Honda EU. And installing an exhaust extender if you drive a Class A motorhome.

Before You Go: How To Prepare For RV Snowbirding

  • Escaping to a warmer winter climate doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always be in t-shirts and flip flops.
  • Depending on your departure date from the Northern latitudes, you can be subjected to everything from snow to freezing fog on your way south for winter or on your springtime return trip.
  • Once you arrive at your winter destination, it’s not uncommon to experience occasional wild temperature shifts – sometimes a region can plunge from daytime temps in the 80s down into the 50s almost overnight.
  • No matter where you go, random deep freezes are always a possibility so keep this in mind when packing your clothes and outfitting your RV to survive freezing temperatures.
  • What will you do about your mail? Will you use a mail forwarding service for RVers or have a relative or friend take care of it for you?
  • Packing just enough clothing and gear to be comfortable in cold temperatures
  • Verifying that health insurance coverage is available along your route and geographic target
  • Internet and cell connectivity availability
  • Ensuring that you’ve budgeted enough money for the trip south and back
  • Performing comprehensive maintenance on your RV and associated vehicles, including inspecting your tires and checking the voltage on your house batteries.
  • Jumping into your RV to head south for winter is easy – but as you’ve learned, a successful snowbird experience requires some advance planning and research.

RV Snowbirding With Solar Power

If you plan on extended boondocking out West, a good RV solar power system is a wise investment. It pays to learn about investing in a good RV solar power system long before you hit the road.

RV solar power needs vary from camper to camper so you’ll need to study your power consumption habits to size up your system. In general it can be beneficial to buy a slightly larger one than you think you’ll need in order to prepare for unexpected power needs, like extended furnace use during cold snaps

Rooftop solar panels and satellite Internet – a boondocker’s dream
LiveWorkDream

A reliable, quiet generator is also a must since there will be occasions when the sun doesn’t shine long enough to keep you powered up. Your neighbors will thank you for buying a super quiet generator like a Honda EU. And installing an exhaust extender if you drive a Class A motorhome.

If a DIY RV solar power system isn’t something you’re comfortable installing, you can always head out West without a system and talk to the many popular RV solar experts who are ready to help figure out what kind of power you need. Some recommended vendors include:

Tips And Resources For RV Snowbirds

Jumping into your RV to head south for winter is easy – but as you’ve learned, a successful snowbird experience requires some advance planning and research.

The web is full of great tips to live in your RV during winter, so here are some noteworthy websites and articles to get you started:

General RV Snowbird Tips:

The Fun Time Guide:

RV Snowbirds: Tips For First-Timers In Search Of Warmer Weather

Snowbird RV Trails: Routes, Planning, Campgrounds and Workamping

Vogel Talks RVing: A Look at Snowbirds:

15 Tip

Love Your RV: Preparing Your RV For Snowbird Season

55 Places: Helpful RV Packing Tips for Snowbirds Heading South

RoadTrekking: Here Come the RV Snowbirds Podcast

Destinations:

Top Snowbird Parks Selected by the Good Sam Travel Guide

The Good Sam Club: Snowbird Destinations

Snowbird Destinations: Warm Havens for the Winter Weary

I-10 Exit Guide: Top 5 Snowbird Destinations

The Roaming Times: Snowbirds Articles

Resources for Snowbird RVing in Mexico

Work and Money:

DIY RV: Cheap RV Living Tips for Everyone

The Fun Times Guide: Tips for Making Money While You’re Full-Time RVing

RV Lifestyle Experts: Ten Tips for Saving Money on Camping

LiveWorkDream: Tips for Workamping RVers

Going RV Boondocking: Work Kamping Comes in Many Variations for Full-time RVing




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