Securing Your Home For Snowbird Travel

If you’re planning for snowbird travel or other long-term RV adventure, you need to prepare your home to be unoccupied for months at a time. A key aspect of this preparation is making sure your home appears occupied.

Stop the Mail and Newspaper Deliveries

The mail is often a never-ending cascade of advertising and other solicitations—with bills and an occasional letter or card in-between. Left unchecked, mail will likely accumulate beyond your mail box capacity and potentially announce your absence. Thank you, junk mail.

Pictured above Sundance 1 RV Resort in Casa Grande, a popular snowbird roost in Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pictured above Sundance 1 RV Resort in Casa Grande, a popular snowbird roost in Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thankfully, stopping the mail is as easy as going onto USPS.com and requesting your mail to be held or forwarded. For $1 you can have your mail forwarded for as short as fifteen days or as long as one year. After the first six months, you can extend for another six months. Even better, you can adjust the amount of time your mail is forwarded online. You can shortened or extended mail forwarding based on changing road plans.

Canadians have a similar mail forwarding system but pay a minimum of $52.95 for four months of mail forwarding within their province, $65.95 within Canada, and $152.95 to the U.S. For more information about mail forwarding in Canada visit CanadaPost.ca.

For many, there’s nothing better than reading a physical newspaper or magazine. Be sure to pause those newspaper drops while you’re away, or they may give your absence away.

Even if you have your newspapers stopped, circulars and phone books may be dropped at your house. Again, ask your neighbor to check for these. There is nothing that says, “no one at home” like an accumulation of newspapers on your front step or at the end of your driveway.

Pictured above Buckhorn Lake RV Resort in Kerrville, a popular Winter Texan (snowbird) roost in the Texas Hill Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pictured above Buckhorn Lake RV Resort in Kerrville, a popular Winter Texan (snowbird) roost in the Texas Hill Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snow Removal

Arrange with a neighbor, relative, or commercial service for snow removal. Depending on the season of your absence, and your home climate, it may also be necessary to have someone help with lawn maintenance, weed control, leaf raking and removal, and lawn and shrub watering.

Those with house plants should also make arrangements to have their plants watered and cared for.

Consider a Web Camera System

With high-speed internet and a high quality camera, it’s possible to see a live video feed of your house and property from almost anywhere. That’s right, you can watch your house yourself when you’re away.

Many of the internet and security system companies now sell and install web camera systems for a monthly fee. On the other hand, there are companies that sell do-it-yourself kits including the web cameras, digital hubs, and software that allows you to install, set-up, and use such a system. Be aware that these web camera kits are not for the technologically challenged, and likely require running wire and cables throughout your attic and crawl spaces.

Never Post Travel Plans or Events on Social Media

Pictured above Sunny Acres RV Park in sunny Las Cruces, a popular snowbird roost in New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pictured above Sunny Acres RV Park in sunny Las Cruces, a popular snowbird roost in New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s common sense that you don’t run around telling everyone that you’ll be away and your house will be unoccupied, but that’s exactly what you do by posting your trip plans and adventure to social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. It’s also not a good idea to change your answering machine message to anything implying your absence.

Take Pictures

Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do once you’re on the road and exploring new places. While this is certainly true, you also should take pictures of your home and possessions prior to leaving. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in.

You may also consider photocopying your passport, credit cards, drivers license, and other important documents. Hopefully you will not need these images but having evidence of this information can make or break travel plans in case of an emergency.

Pictured above SeaWind RV Resort in Riviera Beach, a popular Winter Texan (snowbird) roost in southern Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pictured above SeaWind RV Resort in Riviera Beach, a popular Winter Texan (snowbird) roost in southern Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home.

Worth Pondering…

We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead, something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass pointer and head for the Sun Belt.

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