And the Survey Says...

Fall 2008 CSANews Issue 68  |  Posted date : Sep 19, 2008.Back to list


...that our readers represent the best people that you can find in Canada. The number of responses to our survey increased by 30% and our readers took the time to not only answer the questions, but also to give their written comments in dozens of different areas. More than 25% of our respondents completed the "Any Other Comments" section, which will prove very valuable to us over the coming months and years. Our thanks for your unwavering support, your comments, and even your occasional criticism. We will never stop learning.

This survey was obviously completed by true snowbirds. More than 75% of you have been wintering in the South for more than 10 years; 76% are between the ages of 65 and 80; 80% are married, 3.5 % are living common law and, just so you know, 0.65% are living an alternate lifestyle. The average trip length has not changed very much as snowbirds are generally staying for just over 4.2 months, which compares to our last survey. If anything, there is a slight increase in the time spent away and this may be partially due to this year's harsh Canadian winter. We also know that the number of people calling to extend their Medipac trip insurance was higher in both March and April.

Next year`s winter will be anyone's guess. The global warming advocates say that the winters will be milder; yet the 2009 Canadian Farmer`s Almanac calls for a "numbing cold winter in store." The Canadian Edition of the 2009 OLD Farmer`s Almanac, a different publication, makes a compelling case for global cooling. Actually, their website at is lots of fun but you will have to buy the Almanac itself to read the article. The hole in the corner of the Almanac is so that you can hang it on a nail in your outhouse.

Speaking of the Internet and computers, an amazing 44% of you plan to purchase a new computer in the next 24 months and 60% of you will get a laptop or notebook computer. This is an incredible jump and it is pretty obvious that the smaller, lightweight laptops are much easier to travel with and have computing power comparable to the old desktop clunkers. Laptops are a fun way to spend your time waiting in those pesky airports and, if properly set up, they can be used outdoors on the patio or lanai, or even at the pool. When buying a laptop, try and find one with a screen that can be easily seen in the sunlight. To avoid eye strain, I use magnifying glasses that have a yellow tint indoors and magnifying sunglasses outdoors. Sam's Club sells them in packages of three for about $10.

And Internet usage is now up to 82%, a huge increase from the 72% of only two years ago. People are still wary of making purchases online, however, as only 45% have ever purchased anything. If you have a proper security system on your computer (Norton, McAfee, etc.) and only go to reputable sites, you can be assured that it is very, very unlikely that anything bad will happen. I have been online for years and have purchased more than 500 things (mostly stamps, but three cars and a dog bath, too) without any problem. I routinely trade stocks online and do all of my banking and bill-paying online as well. To those who are unaware of the fun and convenience, I would recommend eBay to buy just about anything and TDWaterhouse for banking and investing. And, believe me, I am no techie; if I can do it, you can too.

There is an 80% penetration for the Air Miles program, but frequent flyer credit cards are still underutilized at only about 20%. This is a shame, as there are a lot of free travel and merchandise points going to waste. Many stores do not give Air Miles but, if you use a frequent flyer credit card, you get points anyway. If a store does give Air Miles, then you can get double the points by using the frequent flyer credit card to pay for your purchases. Perhaps this is our fault in trying to explain the different credit cards. You do not have to ever fly on a plane to get rewards on these cards – you just have to buy stuff. I put absolutely everything on a credit card and then totally pay it off at the end of every month. I have accumulated hundreds of thousands of points over the years, and I also take advantage of some of the specials to increase points. For instance, I have a Diner's Club card (surveys indicate it to be the best card) and I just transferred 350,000 Aeroplan points to 525,000 British Airways points. That will be the only way I will ever travel first class to Europe, because I will not pay the exorbitant air fares, all by simply buying groceries, gas and clothes on the right credit card. My other favourite cards are CIBC`s Aeroplan card and Royal Bank`s Avion card.

The travel patterns and travel statistics all remain close to those of the past several surveys; 99.34% carry a passport and, thanks to the CSA, it is a lot easier to renew that passport. Almost 70% say that crossing the border is as easy as it ever was and 97% say that all of the border changes will not deter their travel habits. There were about 13% who were very happy to see the dollar's strength (I think that 100% would be a closer percentage), as this would allow them to stay away longer since their dollars will go farther. The cost of gasoline, however, will reduce the number of side trips that 24% of you would normally take. But 42% of you will know exactly where you are going, because you have a GPS system. Love those Garmins!

We are a pretty healthy bunch of snowbirds!: 21% say that their health is Excellent; 34% say Very Good; 31% say Good; with another 10.35% saying that their health is Average. It is pretty obvious that the snowbird lifestyle agrees with us and I would encourage those readers who do not participate, to "get with the program." Snowbirds are not rich fat cats as the dumb media makes out, we are just smart people living a wonderful lifestyle. The costs of living for six months in the southern United States are actually lower than living in Canada, and Mexico is even less. If you must stay home in the winter, or for any part of it, please take vitamin D to replace that loss of sunshine.

There was one number that astounded us and that was the very low participation in Canada Club events – only 15%. When you travel this winter, find a Canada Club luncheon, or a golf tournament or a dinner/dance. The information available from the snowbird members can be invaluable. And, as always, I would like to personally invite you and your friends to one and all of our Snowbird Extravaganzas and Winter Information Meetings. After all, 99% of last year's attendees say that they will be returning, and that's the statistic which we like the most.