From the Desk of Don Slinger Issue 33

Fall 1999 CSANews Issue 33  |  Posted date : Mar 03, 2007.Back to list

Hi Folks

It's that time of year again, to put the final touches to your travelling plans. Having enjoyed the snowbird lifestyle for a number of years now, I realize the importance of making lists. Packing up and moving twice per year can be incredibly stressful if you're not organized ' but then again, even organized people can get stressed by it! Preparing a checklist makes the upheaval just slightly less painful.

Below are some points that you may want to keep handy when you're ready to start preparing for your winter away:

  1. Check the validity of your personal identification and if necessary, renew your drivers license /passport/ Provincial Health Card/ auto Insurance/ memberships; even those that may expire while you're away
  2. Ensure that your auto insurance policy provides extended coverage for collision and personal liability en route as well as at your destination
  3. Carry proof of Canadian citizenship, home ownership and /or U.S. home ownership. Passports are ideal, although birth certificates supplemented by photo ID are acceptable.
  4. In some instances when entering the U.S., Canadians – in particular, snowbirds – have been asked to present proof of their intent to return back to Canada. We recommend you carry photocopies of utility bills, rental or lease agreements, deeds or mortgages.
  5. Purchase out of country medical insurance and make sure your policy is in effect before you leave. Advise your carrier in the event your medical condition changes before you leave. Carry the policy card on your person at all times. Read the fine print of your policy before you buy it and look for exclusions. Know what you need, what you're buying, and make sure the carrier/underwriter is well established and preferably endorsed by a reputable association such as the Canadian Snowbird Association.
  6. Obtain a MedicAlert bracelet. It is recognized worldwide by medical practitioners as the source for pre-existing medical conditions.
  7. Arrange for a neighbour to have leaves/snow/debris removed and flyers picked up at your home. Also arrange for them to inspect the interior and exterior of the property daily. Your home must look lived in.
  8. Contact Canada Post regarding overall mail rerouting (there is a cost)
  9. Suspend newspapers/ magazines or contact subscription departments to have them re-routed to your U.S. address
  10. Turn off all taps that provide water to the exterior of your home (i.e. garden taps) to prevent freeze ups and /or burst pipes.
  11. Have a programmable thermostat installed (approx. $80.00CDN) to reduce heating costs of an empty house
  12. Have motion sensitive exterior lighting installed at your home; use light timers on interior lamps.
  13. Make arrangements for pre-authorized billing for utilities and telephone at your Canadian residence to avoid unnecessary cut-offs.
  14. Check the status of foods in the freezer/pantry/refrigerator. Either take perishable foods with you / throw them out/ or donate them to friends or neighbours.
  15. Move valuables like jewellery/documents/heirlooms to a safety deposit box.
  16. Suspend cable/satellite service for the period you are away.
  17. Carry a copy of your power of attorney with you and ensure that it is valid in the state you're visiting. Consult with an attorney in your destination state for confirmation of validity
  18. Arrange for a checkup at the doctor and/or dentist, and/or optometrist before you leave.
  19. If you have pets, take them to your veterinarian and make sure their immunizations are current and will last for the duration of your trip. Carry proof of immunization and licensing of your pet(s). A good idea is to get your pet micro-chipped before you leave.
  20. Advise friends/neighbours/relatives of your travel itinerary before you leave. Arrange to call them at pre-determined times en route. Provide them with your health insurance information, out of country medical insurance policy number and emergency phone numbers as well as your phone number at your U.S. destination.
  21. Have your automobile serviced before you leave. It makes sense to have the oil changed, radiator and transmission flushed, air conditioning compressor checked and topped up (with freon), belts checked and /or changed, wipers replaced, and tires rotated. Steel belted radial tires are usually near the end of their safe life between 55,000-60,000km.
  22. Join an auto club with features that will help you regardless of where you may get into trouble on your trip. We recommend the CSA Auto Club as it has a low annual fee ($39.95CDN) and acts like an insurance policy, allowing you to use any emergency roadside assistance that is not governed by geographic restrictions.
  23. Obtain a cellular phone with a low monthly minimum and competitively priced roaming charge. Most fully charged cell phones are capable of completing a 911 emergency call even without a cellular provider contract. Otherwise, obtain an emergency CB radio and leave it in the car.
  24. Arrange for a competitively priced currency exchange program. The better programs can transfer monies in any denomination from your Canadian banking institution to any U.S. banking institution. Avoid high transaction fees.
  25. Make sure to stretch at every rest stop. Include neck, back, legs and arms.
  26. Share the driving with your significant other. Change the position of the driver/passenger seat with regularity.
  27. Check local traffic/weather forecasts on local radio stations regularly.
  28. Watch for changes in speed limits.
  29. Carry current maps and resource materials for your journey. Two good sources of information are Along The I-75 by Dave Hunter(Mile Oak Publishing) and Interstate 75 and the 401 by Christine Marks (Boston Mills).
  30. In anticipation of the many guests you'll be receiving this year, you may want to pack some extra sheets and pillows. Remember that guests, like fish, start to stink after three days!
Take the guesswork out of travelling. Have fun and have a safe trip!

Here are some newspaper headlines you may have missed:
  • Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  • Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  • Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
My closing thought for the day! If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Gob Bless!