COVID-19 has upended lives around the world. One of the biggest areas affected by the pandemic has been travel. For snowbirds, those individuals who travel South in the winter and back North in the spring. The coronavirus outbreak has left them with some difficult decisions to make: Stay in their winter accommodation, or go home?
There is no one answer for these seasonal travelers. Some choose to stay where they are for the duration of the pandemic. Some decide or are forced to go home. Many factors influence their decisions. Here is a look at some of the things that affect snowbirds’ travel decisions in 2020.
Snowbirds who wish to remain in Florida during the pandemic have to make sure they have extended accommodations. Those whose snowbird rentals in Florida end or are closed because of the pandemic are often forced to return home.
For example, a NYTimes article on the subject entitled ‘Snowbirds Ask: Should We Stay Or Should We Go?‘ noted. When Florida state parks closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Snowbirds who were staying in those state parks had to leave.
For those who wished to stay despite their accommodations coming to an end. Networks of family and friends have often come to the rescue. Through these connections, some snowbirds have found new places to ride out the pandemic. Without needing to chance possible virus exposure on the trip home.
Another example, in a Tampa Bay Times article entitled “Coronavirus Florida: Traveling back home, snowbirds? Doctors recommend you stay put“. One snowbird named Lynn Byrne chose to move into an empty house owned by a friend when she needed to stay in the state.
The best solution is for snowbirds to find accommodations that allow them to remain in Florida indefinitely. For example, owning mobile homes in 55 mobile home communities in Florida makes it easy to shelter in place for as long as necessary.
These homes are often very inexpensive, and may even save snowbirds money over renting every winter or for longer periods of time. Long-term RV parks can also provide a place for snowbirds to weather the pandemic in the area they love. Especially if they brought an RV to Florida anticipating a short stay and are unable to remain in their current RV location.
No one wants to be exposed to COVID-19. The desire to minimize the risk of exposure drives some snowbirds to return home, and convinces others to stay longer in Florida.
Many experts recommend that snowbirds stay where they are for the duration of the pandemic. Remaining in their current location, according to them, presents a smaller chance of virus exposure than does trying to make the trip home.
In some places, the tendency of seasonal travelers to heed these recommendations has been reflected in occupancy rates for popular snowbird vacation spots. For example, while not located in Florida, the executive director of the 400-member Texas Association of Campground Owners reported a decrease in reservations of only 5 percent since the pandemic hit.
Of course, it isn’t just the experts who play a role in convincing snowbirds to stay in Florida throughout the pandemic. The advice of family members, and their own personal preferences, also play a role in their decision to stay where they are.
Some snowbirds report sheltering in their Florida accommodations because they simply feel as if staying where they are reduces their risk of exposure. Even if that means they have to change their annual travel habits.
Others, however, are concerned about the risk of exposure in outbreak hotspots like many areas in Florida. Concerned about images of packed beaches and reports of outbreaks, they choose to go back home. Where they feel that their exposure risk is lower.
The best decision for snowbirds in Florida is the one that makes them feel most comfortable. The evaluation of expert recommendations, current outbreak hotspots, and one’s own situation is a personal one. It yields different decisions for the individuals making them.
It isn’t being at home that makes some snowbirds nervous about returning home at the end of the Florida snowbird season. It is the trip itself. Many seasonal residents drive for several days to get to and from Florida. Driving that far requires multiple stops, possible layovers in hotels, purchasing gas and food, and other activities that require close contact with other people.
Some snowbirds in Florida choose to make the trip because the appeal of home outweighs any risk that traveling presents. Other snowbirds choose to fly rather than drive. Still others opt to remain in Florida, because they believe that the risks of travel outweigh any difficulties that staying in Florida present.
Those who choose to travel home should limit their interactions with others when possible, as well as minimize stops, according to Dr. Marc Yacht, who led the health department in Pasco County, FL, until his 2007 retirement.
The decision about whether to stay or go for seasonal travelers in Florida is an emotional decision as much as it is a practical one. Snowbirds want to be near friends and family, and that often drives them, quite literally, back north.
For others, however, family and friends are in Florida. One individual even reported to the NY Times that one of her children moved into the Florida community where she lives in order to be near her during the pandemic.
With the opportunity to be near loved ones, snowbird rentals in Florida become more appealing. When given the choice to shelter in peaceful Florida neighborhoods and pursue fulfilling activities near loved ones, staying past the end of the snowbird season makes the most sense for many.
The decision about whether to go or stay is a personal one. Snowbird campgrounds in Florida are likely to remain more full than usual through the summer and fall months as seasonal travelers opt to wait out the pandemic in the state. Many others will continue to choose to make the trip home.
If you find that snowbird rentals in Lakeland FL, Ruskin, MT Dora, or elsewhere, are ending and you need a place to stay, or if you are looking to extend your stay in the Sunshine State for any reason, Bedrock Communities might be the right place for you. Our 55+ communities in some of the most desirable locations in the state make Florida living attainable and affordable, for as long as you want to stay.