Travel Talk: Finding balance as a snowbird
Ah . . . snowbirding: driving down south to a warmer, sunnier climate for a couple of months in the winter to escape just the kind of weather New Hampshire is dishing up this year. Bud and I dipped our figurative toes in the concept a couple of years ago and decided to try it again this year with more focus on the long-term potential of such a lifestyle. What have we learned so far?
Rhythms: At home in New Hampshire, our lives have a certain rhythm. We shop for groceries, go out with friends, visit with kids and grandkids, do chores around the house, go about our work and volunteer activities, and fit in exercise and amusements depending on the season; tennis in the summer, hiking with the dogs in the fall, watching our favorite shows on TV most any time.
Life has a rhythm that fits us like a comfy pair of sweatpants. On vacation, the rhythm is different. Watching calories goes by the board. Chores and responsibilities . . . who cares? Routines . . . not for us! This works great and feels fine for a few weeks – even a month. But for two or three months? For us, anyway, it’s not so comfortable. If we are to become snowbirds, we’ll have to find a rhythm more, well, normal. More like our usual lifestyle, just in a warmer place for a few months. We’re discovering this takes some planning.
Essentials: If you own a second home in Florida, great! You can stock it with your own “stuff” and not worry that you’ll be missing a critical item. If you’re like us and you’ll be renting for a few months – or just one month – put some thought into daily essentials, especially if you’re driving down and have packing room. We took great care in organizing all our dog-related items (food, bedding, leashes, toys, first aid stuff and more). But I didn’t think through a critical element of our own day: coffee!
We converted to a Keurig and individually brewed K-cups several years ago (I like industrial-strength coffee, Bud not so much). But we didn’t bring our Keurig machine. Big mistake! Any rental will usually have basic kitchen equipment – the operative word being “basic.” Expect knives, but no knife sharpener; I so wish I had packed ours. A call or email to your landlord/broker can help fill in the info that’s most important to you.
Balance: Bud and I are working at balancing our lifestyle down here. We’re using the Premium Forwarding service of the U.S. Postal Service (usps.com) and our online subscription to the Monitor (concordmonitor.com) to stay in touch with the world back home. We have a temporary subscription to the daily newspaper in Fort Myers/Cape Coral to get us in tune with the locals. We’ve found a local grocery store, dog park, movie theater and a superb Italian restaurant. We’ve met the neighbors and gotten referrals for veterinarians and groomers, but we still need to find places for our own haircuts.
Sound dull? This is where balance comes in. We’re trying to think outside the box by doing things, like attending a county-sponsored rodeo. It was fabulous fun! We’re taking U.S. Power Squadron courses in navigation and boatsmanship to give us more confidence with a little used boat we picked up. The folks are fun and really knowledgeable. I even found a nifty website for the off-beat . . . floridafringe tourism.com.