Smart Travel in a Time of Tur­moil Are snow­birds chang­ing their U.S. mi­gra­tion pat­terns

Are snow­birds chang­ing their mi­gra­tion pat­terns be­cause of U.S. tur­moil?

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Ian MacNeill

DE­SPITE THE FACT the Orange State has been pounded by a se­ries of me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal storm troop­ers in the form of cat­e­gory havoc hur­ri­canes, it is al­ready well on the way to re­cov­ery and should be up and run­ning in time to wel­come snow­birds when the an­nual mi­gra­tion be­gins this win­ter, says Visit Florida pres­i­dent Ken Law­son. Many ar­eas of the state did not see sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts, he said, adding that “ar­eas that were more im­pacted are re­build­ing and plan­ning to re­open as soon as pos­si­ble.” For con­stantly up­dated trav- el safety in­for­ma­tion, go to Visit Florida’s Florida Now web­page.

As far as prices go, ex­pect a buyer’s mar­ket for vis­i­tors as sup­pli­ers ratchet up ef­forts to lure Cana­di­ans back, and they want Cana­di­ans back badly; sta­tis­ti­cally, we stay twice as long and spend twice as much as vis­i­tors from else­where. “We’ll be fo­cus­ing our ef­forts on rein­tro­duc­ing Cana­di­ans to the Sun­shine State,” prom­ises Visit Florida PR man­ager Mea­gan Dougherty.

Fur­ther west Ros­alyn Hunter of Texas Tourism says that storm dam­age, while dra­matic, has been con­fined to Hous­ton and some of the smaller Gulf Coast des­ti­na­tions such as Port Aransas, Rock­port, and Beau­mont. “Texas is a large state with seven dif­fer­ent re­gions of­fer­ing an end­less ar­ray of ex­cit­ing and en­tic­ing va­ca­tion op­tions, none of which have been af­fected by the storm,” she says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. Even on the Gulf Coast tra­di­tional Cana­dian favourites rang­ing from Galve­ston and Cor­pus Christi to South Padre Is­land and Har­lin­gen are all do­ing fine. She adds that Texas has been and will re­main “price com­pet­i­tive” in ev­ery­thing from ac­com­mo­da­tion to green fees at the state’s more than 800 golf cour­ses. “You can get a good bar­be­cue din­ner for $10, and no­body

does bar­be­cue like Texas,” she says. The Lone Star State has al­ways been pop­u­lar with the take-your-home-on-the-road set, and the state has 1,400 RV parks to choose from, in­clud­ing as many as 14 in the town of Cana­dian on the Cana­dian River in the Texas Pan­han­dle (north). These are the kinds of places snow­birds park the fifth wheel for a few sea­sons and even­tu­ally feel like they’re home with fam­ily. “You meet won­der­ful peo­ple; it’s an in­stant com­mu­nity,” re­tired school su­per­in­ten­dent John Cyr from Gatineau, Que., told us.

Ari­zona, an­other pop­u­lar snowbird re­treat, re­mains un­touched by in­clemency of any kind. While deals aimed at Cana­di­ans tend to come and go, smaller towns es­pe­cially of­fer long-term ac­com­mo­da­tion at sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able rates, and thanks to the in­ter­net find­ing deals is eas­ier than ever. Trip­ping, a web­site, lists 10 pop­u­lar Ari­zona snowbird des­ti­na­tions and has links to a va­ri­ety of va­ca­tion rental of­fers. Va­ca­tion Rentals by Owner (VRBO) is an­other use­ful in­ter­na­tional re­source that con­ve­niently in­cludes re­views from past guests.

Bri­tish Columbian snow­birds have a spe­cial love for Cal­i­for­nia and again, thanks to Google, find­ing the right nest at the right price is just a few clicks away. Cal­i­for­ni­as­now­ is a good place to start and, of course, there’s al­ways VRBO.

When it comes to real es­tate the kinds of deals that were avail­able af­ter the hous­ing cri­sis of 2008 have more or less gone away, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t good value in the land. It’s all rel­a­tive, and you can still get a “pa­tio” home in the Phoenix area for less than US$200,000.

Storms come, but then they go, and when they do the pool re­opens and the waiter is ready to take your or­der. Don’t for­get the sun­screen be­cause Mr. Sun al­ways comes back.

Storm surge from Hur­ri­cane Irma in Jack­sonville, Fla.

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