Arizona is a snowbird hotspot. Hundreds of thousands of snowbirds from Canada and the northern United States make the trip south each year. Some fly, some drive their cars and others opt for a more comfortable and leisurely option: an RV.
Preparing for RV snowbirding
Planning to head south in an RV is very different from flying. There are additional things you need to factor into your trip planning, and it takes extra effort to prepare. You need to factor in things such as repairs, packing, crossing borders, mapping routes, planning accommodations on the road and deciding where to stay once you arrive.
Make sure your RV is mechanically sound
The last thing you want is to run into preventable mechanical issues with your RV. You only have a certain amount of time to spend in the south, and you probably don’t to spend a large portion of your time worrying about RV repairs. Before you leave, make sure you:
- Get your RV inspected by a mechanic
- Check the tires and make sure they are in good condition
- Get a tune-up and an oil change
- Check all safety alarms
- Check all lights
- Make sure you have tools and an emergency kit with you
As part of this process, it is also a good idea to thoroughly clean the interior and remove any items you don’t need for your trip.
Figuring out what to bring with you (and what to leave at home) can be a challenge. The space you have in your RV makes it tempting to bring as much as possible. However, it’s still a good idea to pack light. Here are some packing tips:
- Make a checklist of the items you currently have on your RV and a list of items that you need to replenish
- Make a list of the things you need to buy before the trip
- Pack clothing for all types of weather
- Pack snacks and non-perishable food items so you stop less frequently to eat
- Make sure you don’t have any items that you are not allowed to bring across the border
- Have your travel documents and plans easily accessible (including medical travel insurance)
- Make sure not to exceed the weight limit of your vehicle. This will place additional strain on the engine and burn more fuel.
Mapping your route
You have countless options for your route to Arizona and where you can stop along the way. Regardless of which route you choose, take some time to research it. Don’t leave your travel plans solely in the hands of your GPS. It’s best to research some rest stops along the way. You can also use your trip as an opportunity to see some sights as you make your way across the country. Take a few extra days, and check out the attractions and cities along the way.
Where to stay
It’s best to establish where you will stay before you depart for your trip. Remember, you don’t always get what you pay for, so don’t shop based on price alone. The good news is that Arizona is a great destination for RV snowbirds, and there are many regions to choose from.
According to a study by Arizona State University, in 2003, 300,000 snowbirds became semi-permanent residents in the state during the winter months. While most stay in their RVs, many drive down and stay in rental condos or travel to a number of locations throughout the winter.
Exit Guide provides some insights into areas for consideration:
“Quartzsite, near the California border is probably the most affordable place to establish a winter home. Each year Quartzsite’s population swells from a few hundred full-time residents to several hundred thousand Snowbirds. Mesa has mile after mile of RV parks that cater to Snowbirds, with a full schedule of organized activities. Winters are typically mild with an occasional short-lived cold snap. Yuma is a popular destination as long as you don’t mind the sound of aircraft from the nearby air base. If you’re an RVer make tracks for Oatman, in the northwestern part of the state.” Casa Grande, Phoenix and Tucson have also become popular destinations with snowbirds.
Whether you are travelling by RV, car or air, Blue Cross offers snowbird travel insurance, allowing you to enjoy your days in your winter home worry-free.