It's that time of year when Snowbirds are getting their affairs in order to head off to warmer southern locales. According to Canada Post, over half a million Canadians head south for the winter each year. 

Snowbirds should ensure they're properly organized and ready for the trip ahead. To make sure no important tasks are missed, we've put together some considerations for a worry-free winter away:

Home security 
A home with the lights always off, or piles of snow in the driveway, can be a target for break-ins. Here are some tips to help protect your home while you're away:

  • Have a friend or family member stop by regularly and check your home. They should be looking for signs of frozen pipes and other weather-related issues. As Snowbird Advisor notes, some home insurance policies require that someone visits the home daily or every other day. 
  • Use automatic timers for lamps and other light fixtures to give the appearance that people are inside the house. 
  • Ensure all doors, windows and other entry points into your home are locked or blocked. 
  • Contact your utilities, and other service providers, to put a temporary hold on water, internet and related services. According to the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA), some services may be able to be put into "vacation mode," so you won't have to pay regular monthly service charges while you're away. However, the organization advises that if you have a home security monitoring service, you should check that putting your phone into "vacation mode" will not interfere with your home monitoring system. 
  • Make sure all light switches are turned off and unplug electrical devices. 
travelIt's that time of year when Canadians head south for the winter! 

Protect your health and well-being while enjoying your winter home. Before living out of the country for the season, make sure you:

  • Pack any medications you'll need to take while you're away. Check that you have enough doses to last the duration of your trip and order refills of prescriptions early to ensure you're covered. All medications should be clearly labelled. 
  • Receive any necessary immunizations or vaccines required for travel to your winter destination. 
  • Book an appointment with your doctor for your regular check-up at least 90 days before travelling, as recommended by the CSA. 
  • Bring copies and receipts of your prescriptions, for both medications and eye wear. 

Travel Insurance 
Buying travel insurance is the best way to safeguard your health when something unexpected happens during your travels. GMS TravelStar® Travel Insurance provides the protection you need for the travel season ahead. 

Before you leave, choose the coverage that will best suit your travel needs:

  • Emergency Medical coverage: Emergency medical costs can add up when travelling outside of your home province. Ensure you're protected with our Emergency Medical coverage. We even offer a Multi-trip option, perfect for Snowbirds with more than one trip planned. 
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption: Protect the financial investment in your winter lifestyle from unexpected interruptions with our Trip Cancellation & Interruption coverage. 
  • Baggage, Loss Damage & Delay: Safeguard your journey with our Baggage, Loss Damage & Delay coverage. 
travelTravel insurance can help you enjoy your winter getaway, worry-free. 

Travel documents 
In addition to setting up your insurance, you'll want to make sure you have the proper documents ready before embarking on your winter migration. Here's what you need to do:

  • Returning to Canada with a soon-to-expire passport and other identifying documents can cause problems. Give yourself plenty of leeway by ensuring passports and other identifying documents do not expire until at least six months after your return. 
  • If you have one, check that your NEXUS card is up to date. If you don't know about the program, learn more about the card here - it can help streamline crossing the Canada-U.S. border. 
  • Have your credit and identification cards ready. You should also make copies of these items, as well as your passport, NEXUS card, medical history, income information/bank statements and house/deed/ease agreement, according to the CSA. 

With the checklist above, you can help make sure your winter getaway is worry-free!