Snowbirds and Grey Nomads

There have always been migratory birds and animals but with the increase in wealth and age, the migratory instinct has extended to include the baby boomers. The “me generation” have asked “do we have to put up with long cold winters now the kids have left home and we have retired” and answer is a resounding “we don’t”!
The temporary migrants go by different names in different countries: the “Snow Birds” in north America as those Canadians and Americans from the northern states who migrate south to escape their tough winters, heading towards the so-called sunbelt states or Mexico. In Australia natives of Victoria and other southern states, brush off their RV or caravan, becoming “Grey Nomads” and head north to the tropical areas of Queensland, Northern Territory and Northern Western Australia.

In order to keep costs down a lot of these temporary migrants will often travel in their own motor home or caravan. This is particularly popular in Australia and the US where nomads can camp for free or very little in many places including beautiful National Parks.
The other sub-group of nomads will hop on a flight to a warmer and typically cheaper nearby countries. Favorites for north Americans include Mexico and Costa Rica, while Australians wanted to leave the country have a lot of choice in South East Asia including Bali and Thailand.

The scary thing is that a lot of the younger generation are looking at these fit seniors heading off to the sun and thinking – why not me… but that’s the next post!

For more information check out these links:
The Secret Life of a Snowbird: An Inside Look at Retirement in America’s Sunbelt

RV Education 101

Live or Retire in Mexico a Practical Detailed Guide

Interstate (US) Rest Area Guide and Walmart Directory

Hobbies and Travel

One of the things I find different when I travel long term is that long with slowing down the actual rate of travel I need to do something creative. Although I take photos and write a journal I miss doing a craft with my hands. When I first started travelling my crafts of choice were knitting and crochet. I found the wool too bulky to carry around, and you have to buy all the wool at the same time so I couldn’t buy as I went. I then discovered cross stitch embroidery and was hooked.
Compact, easy to carry, and the silks are numbered on an international system which means you can buy them in any Western country – handy, although they don’t take much space to carry. My one and only purchase at Harrods, London’s famous department store, was another skein of colour for my current cross stitch!

In fact your hobby can be incorporated in your travels in other ways: lots of people take a class to learn a new skill or enhance a new one: cooking classes in Asia or Italy, language classes, dance classes, the list is endless. We met a group of English women on a small Greek island siting at an outdoor cafe making lace. They were on an organised tour and found it great because all the locals were fascinated and came up and talked to them.

I remember extending my stay at cheap hotel in Sumatra because although the hotel was new and under-furnished it turned out to have perfect acoustics for a a fellow traveller who was a talented classical guitarist – free concerts every night – I don’t think that guy had to pay for his room all week, the owner figured out he was attracting other people to eat and drink in-house at night!

The ultimate travelling hobby though which can also make you money is being a hairdresser -everywhere in the world travelers will pay $5 for a cheap, convenient hair cut at the hotel – pack your scissors hairdressers -just not in your carry on!

The perfect home for travellers

Not every trip is a long one, but even going away for a few weeks over Christmas can cause issues as to how to secure your home.

I have come up with the ideal list of “lock and forget” housing for the frequent traveler.

  1. Decent neighbourhood – it helps not to be concerned about gang warfare breaking out while you are away, help to keep your insurance premiums down.
  1. Right insurance company – make sure you know how long you can leave your house unoccupied for before you notify them to avoid them voiding your policy.
  2. Non-existent or low-maintenance gardening. I must admit gardening isn’t my thing, but unkempt grass is a not only a fire-hazard in some climates but an advertisement that the house is unlived in
  3. Secure large letter box. Even if you hold or divert your mail you are likely still to get local newspapers and junk mail appearing regularly.
  4. Neighbours who don’t travel, or not as much as you, are handy too, they can keep and eye on your place, clear the mail, park their car in your drive etc.
  5. A house in a live on a cul-de-sac or deaden road. The neighbours will know who belongs and who doesn’t and it seems to enhance security greatly.
  6. Don’t have lots of pots and planters. These dry out very quickly. Move them out into the rain, or group them and get them covered by your irrigation system. Or get a neighbour to water them.
  7. Indoor plants survive a few weeks if placed in a bath with an inch or two of water in it. They need to be getting natural light at the same time too.
  8. Ideally an apartment or flat in a block will solve a lot of issues for you. The supervisor or management company can probably manage your mail, the grounds are maintained and the flat is secure.
  9. Alternatively a townhouse in a small group will give you similar security and you are more likely to know your neighbours.
  10. Friendly climate – a climate with long periods of sub-freezing temperatures present a whole lot of different issues to prevent both your car and your home freezing solid. A super hot climate is not quite as bad but your plants very well not survive.
  11. Secure garage for you car. If you don’t have one it might be worth it, and even cheaper on the taxi fares, if you park it at the long-term parking at the airport.