I’ve never considered myself someone who needed to escape winter down in the land of alligators and hurricanes, but a two week trip a couple years ago in February set my thinking straight. This year, we’re dipping our toes into the snowbird migration a bit further. For the next few months, I’ll keep you up to date with our progress and lessons learned.
So, to begin our journey, here’s the game plan:
- Find a place to stay. We have that one covered as a relative has a place north of Tampa and inland. It’s a simple double wide with a trailer pad and full hook-ups. For those of you without such a blessing, most long term resorts cost anywhere from $800 to $1200 per month. We plan on scoping some of these out. Be sure to plan way ahead. I understand many fill up fast. I assume the same is true of the southwest. Please let me know in our Facebook users group.
- Get the trailer ready. It’s a long drive. It’s a good idea to grease the axle bearings if you haven’t done so this year. Grease your hitch, check the torque (for Hensley owners), propane topped off, etc. Remember, you’re going from winter weather to spring/summer. You may start off with a winterized trailer. Make plans to de-winterize at your first or second stop. I’ve found that many campgrounds in Indiana and Ohio either close November 1st or shut off the water. Be sure to ask.
- Get the vehicle ready. For many of us, this is our longest trip. You know the drill: oil, tire pressure (don’t forget the spare…vehicle and trailer), etc. Check your receiver for weld cracks and bending. It happens.
- Plan your route. And it doesn’t have to be the fastest one. We’re driving through Indiana instead of Ohio, which would be shorter. But we find that avoiding I-75 (our major north/south freeway in the midwest), is less stressful (the idea is to relax…right?). Estimate what you can drive in a day (3-5 hours for most), and pick out cities on your route. Mapquest and Google Maps makes this easy. Then do campground searches in those areas. I always try to get past a major city in the afternoon before stopping so I don’t have to deal with the morning rush. Remember, not all northern campgrounds will be open in late fall, early winter. And ask about the water. We happen to be have a halway point in Nashville, where we’ll spend Thanksgiving with another relative (it’s important to space your relatives out for your traveling convenience).
- Packing. Clothing for all seasons, food, water. Remember you can shop at the end of the drive, so don’t pack your entire home kitchen into the trailer. What do you need to get through a month or more in your trailer? Books? Laptop (especially if you’re still working)? Extra monitor? Golf clubs, fishing gear, sewing machine? Even paradise can get boring. Make sure your hobbies can go with you.
- Okay, this is optional. We’re actually making two trips. We’ll drive the truck and trailer down to Florida in November, thinking that’s best to avoid snow. We’ll return in a couple weeks to Michigan. Then we’ll fly back down sometime late January or early February. Like I said, it’s practice, so it’s not a full-winter trip. From there we’ll figure out when to bring it all back home. I’ll keep you posted!