7 Confessions of a Snowbird Living the RV Lifestyle

Confessions that stem from 23+ years of living the Snowbird Lifestyle

I have a confession to make. Actually seven of them. Seven confessions about our lifestyle as a snowbird. Seven confessions about how I view my snowbird lifestyle and the things I enjoy doing.

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is not a how-to article, nor does it contain wisdom pertaining to snowbirding and the RV lifestyle. You won’t find bits of advice on sharing a condo-on-wheels with your spouse, successfully dumping your black tank without gagging, or backing into a campsite that is clearly too small for your RV.

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What you will find are my heartfelt confessions that stem from 23+ years of snowbird living and traveling in a variety of RVs including a smallish fifth wheel trailer to our present 38-foot diesel pusher. 

1. This is Not Camping

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Eagle’s Landing RV Park, Holt, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our version of snowbirding is not camping—it’s living. In other words, we don’t consider our snowbird lifestyle to be one big camping trip. We don’t eat s’mores every night, nor do we sit around the campfire or the picnic table playing board games by lantern. (Although now that I think about it, s’mores every night does sound good).

Yes, we live in a campground, but not the same one for six months, and for the most part we are not camping.

2. We Find Weekends, Especially Holiday Weekends, a Drag

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As anyone who has ever visited a campground on a weekend and especially on a holiday weekend knows, this is prime camping time. Which makes it a complete drag for those of us who rely on campgrounds as a place to live for a month or more.

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimer, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While I’m pleased to see so many families enjoying nature and each other’s company, an overflowing campground jam-packed with kids on bikes and billows of campfire smoke floating in my windows is not my idea of a fun time.

3. We Always Prefer Our Condo-On-Wheels Over Your Guest Bedroom

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Terre Haute KOA, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we park in your driveway (which is really appreciated), we will say thanks but no thanks when you offer up your guest room. You see, the thing is that our motorhome with our cozy bed has everything we need within reach.

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We travel in an RV because we enjoy the convenience of always having our motorhome with us. So it’s not that we don’t appreciate the offer, but we really would prefer to sleep in our own bed.

4. This is Not a Permanent Vacation

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Las Vegas RV Park, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is a hard one for non-snowbirds to grasp. So you live in an RV and you get to travel to any warm place you want, yet you don’t consider yourself to be on vacation? No, not even a little bit.

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Columbia Sun RV Park, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We don’t consider this a vacation because we are retired and maintain a regular routine. For us, snowbirding in an RV is a lifestyle choice, not a vacation.

5. I Sometimes Forget That I’m Not “Normal”

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I sometimes forget that our chosen lifestyle is considered out of the ordinary. Especially when spending months at a time in the Sunbelt with other snowbirds who view living in a tiny house on wheels as commonplace. It usually takes an encounter with the “normal” folks to remind me that how we live is fascinating and envy-worthy.

6. We Have No Idea When We’ll “Be Done” Snowbirding

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at Irwins RV Park, Valemont, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why would we willingly choose an end a lifestyle that brings us joy and happiness and takes us away from a frigid and snowy northern winter? Why would I want to be done with all that?

7. We Will Never See Everything

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at La Quintas RV Resort, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We could travel round and round the country for a lifetime and still not see everything. There is always more to see.

And we love that! We love discovering more things to do, to see, and to explore than we could possibly hope to accomplish in any amount of time. We love that America is incredibly diverse and filled with such an array of landscapes, communities, and people that even if we traveled for many more decades could never see, do, or explore it all.

Seven Confessions…

Enjoying the RV snowbird lifestyle at The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So there you have it. Seven confessions of a snowbird living and enjoying the RV lifestyle! Agree or disagree, these are the realities of our life. A life that we love and couldn’t imagine changing in any way!

Worth Pondering…

What a life. Today, it’s New Mexico, yesterday it was Utah, and shortly before that we were in South Carolina. Soon it will be Georgia.

Best Places for RV Travel this January

RV travel allows you to take the comforts of home on the road

The period after the holidays can be a bit of a letdown. The presents have all been opened, the Champagne corked, and the weather probably makes you want to just crawl back in bed and pull the covers over your head. After all you’ve spent—your wallet is probably quite a bit lighter too.

Native palm grove in Coachella Valley Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But the good news is that January is a great time to travel and if you’re looking for someplace warm with ample sun there are some great destinations to consider especially for the RVing snowbird escaping the ravages of a Northern winter.

Fulton Mansion in Rockport-Fulton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But first, we say the names of months all of the time, but frankly, some of them are a little weird. There are a lot of month names that have similar endings, like -ary and -ber, and then there are the wild card month names that don’t have anything in common.

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Let’s not even get into how strange it is that some months have 30 days, some have 31, and then there’s February standing out from the crowd on the calendar with 28 or 29 days. Believe it or not, there is a rhyme and a reason to why the months are named what they are, and like many words that we use today, it all goes back to the Greeks and the Romans.

Green Jay in the Rio Grande Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

January is Roman in origin, and it begins the calendar year because the Roman god Janus is the god of beginnings and endings. This makes perfect sense for a month that people see as an ending of the previous year and the troubles it may have brought, plus the beginning as people look forward to a fresh start to a whole new year. Visually, Janus is a perfect representation of the past and the future, because he has two faces. One looks backwards into the past and what was while the other looks forward into the future and what it has to bring.

Also check out our recommendations from January 2019.

Palm Springs

Coachella Valley near Desert Hot Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Palm Springs is a Southern California city set in the Sonoran Desert. The city is best known for its hot spring, posh hotels, spa resorts, and golf courses. Those interested in architecture will also find many interesting examples of mid-century modern homes here.

El Paseo shopping area in Palm Desert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The shopping district has plenty of shops to keep you browsing for hours with vintage items and interior design shops being especially noteworthy here. The valley surrounding Palm Springs offers a wealth of outdoors activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. January is a great time to visit the desert with perfect temperatures for enjoying outdoor activities.

Rockport-Fulton

Rockport-Fulton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The quaint fishing village of Rockport has been a favorite coastal hideaway and snowbird roost for years. Rockport’s recovery since Hurricane Harvey two years ago counts among the great feel-good stories in Texas history. Rebounding in stunning ways, this little art colony beloved by visitors since the 1950s for its fishing, bucolic bay setting, and frequent festivals feels fresh again.

Rockport=Fulton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Envision the life of an affluent Victorian family while exploring Fulton Mansion, built in 1877 with comforts not easily found: gas lights, central heat, and running water. At Goose Island State Park you’ll find the wintering grounds for whooping cranes and other migratory birds. It’s also home to the 2,000-year-old Big Tree, one of Texas’ largest live oak.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even though they’re the literal emblem of the American desert, saguaro cacti are only found in small parts of the country, and this 71,000-acre stretch of desert serves as their sanctuary. Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections: The Tucson Mountain District and Rincon Mountain District. Between the two districts, there are more than 165 miles of hiking trails, a large petroglyph site, a cactus garden, and epic desert sunsets.

Naples

Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Naples is a city located along the southwestern Florida coast on the Gulf of Mexico. The city is known best for its high-end shops and world-class golfing. Naples Pier has become an icon of the city and is a popular spot for fishing and dolphin watching. On both sides of the pier you’ll find beautiful beaches with white sand and calm waves. At nearby Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary outdoor enthusiasts will find a gentle, pristine wilderness that dates back more than 500 years.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Gilbert Riparian Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This 110-acre oasis in Gilbert is a great place to watch wildlife (especially birds), catch and release fish, learn a few things and just kick back. The lake and seven ponds are for groundwater recharge and recreation. Horses are allowed on some trails, bikes are allowed on trails and sidewalks and leashed dogs can accompany walkers in all pedestrian areas.

Rio Grande Valley

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Rio Grande Valley, on the southernmost tip of Texas, is a semi-tropical paradise that borders Mexico and includes the Gulf Coast shores. Palm trees and orchards of citrus trees line the roads. Luscious, locally grown citrus fruit and vegetables are readily available.

Green Heron at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The area’s year-round pleasant weather brings flocks of Winter Texans escaping the Northern cold. It also brings flocks of birds. The Valley is a flyway between North and South America creating some of the best birding and butterflying opportunities in the country. To keep these populations healthy and coming, National Wildlife Refuges and state parks have been established throughout the region.

Worth Pondering…

We will open the book. Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

—Edith Lovejoy Pierce

The Snowbirds Have Landed

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…snowbird! And just like that, the snowbirds are back.

Every year, millions of Americans and Canadians fly south to enjoy the warm winter temperatures of the Sun Belt.

Before you join the Snowbird flock, consider what you’re looking for in a snowbird roost.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the first things new snowbirds need to learn is that there is no place in the continental United States where you are going to be assured of 70 degree weather all winter long. Many first-time snowbirds from the upper Midwest and the Canadian Prairies are surprised that it can get down into the 30s in Florida, Southern Arizona, and the Palm Springs area during the winter. They thought the Sun Belt states were always consistently warm.

Lake Okeechobee, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No, not always T-shirt and shorts weather. We have spent several winters in Florida and parts of it can be darned cold! We’ve had to unhook our water hoses as far south as Orlando and Lake Okeechobee to prevent them from freezing.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A few years ago one couple asked me how far south they had to get to be assured of 70-degree weather. I think Costa Rica might do it, I’m just not sure how to get my Dutch Star down there. So where do snowbirds roost when the white stuff flies up north?

Rockport, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Generally, if you’re south of Interstate 10, from California to Florida, you will be out of the worst of the winter weather. But there is no guarantee. We’ve experienced snow at Rockport, Texas on Christmas Day, a dusting of snow in southern Arizona in March, and even snow in Verde Valley near Sedona during the Easter weekend.

Estero Llano Grande State Park, Rio Grande Valley, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas we’ve sweltered in the heat and humidity, and we have had frost on our windows during the same time other winters. Sometimes even in the same winter.

Port O’Connor, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Rio Grande Valley in Texas draws thousands of snowbirds with reasonably priced RV parks, lots of activities, and generally good weather. It can get windy at times, but it’s one of your best bets if being warm is a priority. People tend to either love the Valley or hate it, and we are fans of the area primarily due to the diverse wildlife, the availability of outstanding citrus, and a welcoming attitude.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another of our favorite places in Texas is the Rockport/Aransas Pass area, on the Gulf Coast. This is a laid back place where they appreciate snowbirds and make them feel welcome. The combination of affordable RV parks, lots to see and do, and close proximity to Corpus Christi if you need services only a big city can provide, make it popular with many Winter Texans.

Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We also enjoy the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana where we found the weather pleasant during our stays there in the winter. It’s a nice, laid-back area with a lot to see and do, and you can’t beat all the fresh seafood. Seafood markets offer shrimp, oysters, crab, and snapper. When you’re on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the good times roll and roll and roll with 12 casinos, some excellent restaurants, historical homes, and a slow pace that we enjoy.

Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following Interstate 10 west into New Mexico, you don’t have a lot of choices. Some RVers spend their winter in Las Cruces and Deming. It’s inexpensive, but chilly due to the higher elevation. Expect to unhook your water hoses overnight to keep them from freezing.

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many snowbirds flock to Arizona. Favorite roosts include the Yuma area, Mesa and Apache Junction, Tucson, Lake Havasu, Casa Grande, and of course, Quartzsite.

Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you venture into California, there are a number of popular snowbird enclaves in the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs to Indio. You’ll find this to be one of the more expensive options for RVers, but you will almost always enjoy warm and dry weather. Expect the Santa Ana winds to blow in on occasions.

Coachella Valley, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that the things we look for in a snowbird roost may not appeal to you. We favor a slower pace, enjoy sightseeing and photography, and being close to nature. We’re not into playing golf, organized activities, or potluck dinners.

Shields Date Garden, Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But whatever you like to do, and whatever your budget, there are numerous places to park your rig and hang your hat during the winter.

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 at our home in Alberta, 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.

How Can You Travel In Your RV Without Worrying About Your Home?

With a little preparation you can travel to your snowbird roost without concern about your home

In 1969, the comedy troupe Firesign Theater asked, “How can you be in two places at once without being anywhere at all?” In the counter-culture haze of the late ’60s, this question was both strangely funny and unanswerable.

Taking inspiration from Firesign Theaters’ absurd musing, we offer a new, obviously not as funny question; “How can you travel in your RV without worrying about your home?”

Leaving Kansas for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the days leading up to your departure, scour your house for anything you might have borrowed from the library, a family member, or friend, and ensure those they are returned prior to leaving.

Leaving Pennsylvania for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even the most experienced RVers worry about their homes while they’re away. From the threat of a break-in to a failed heating system causing the pipes to freeze, the range of things that can go wrong at home are enough to keep folks awake at night. Did you remember to lock the sliding doors?

Leaving Alberta for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With a little preparation, and a dose of prevention, none of these fears should keep you from embarking on your much-anticipated snowbird travels. No worries.

Leaving northern California for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lock All External Doors, Windows, and the Garage

Lock your front door. Lock your back door. Lock the door between your garage and your house.  Lock all sliding doors with security locks. Lock pet doors and any other external entry ways into your house. Whenever possible, use deadbolt locks. And don’t forget to make sure that all of your windows are also locked.

Leaving Idaho for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Garage doors with electric garage door openers are vulnerable to thieves with garage door opener scanners. To defeat these scanners, unplug your garage door opener when you’re away from home. Additionally, remove garage door openers and valuables from cars stored in the garage. Inform anyone with access to your home that you have disabled the garage door system and/or manually locked the garage.

Leaving Indiana for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do Not Hide House Keys

Hiding a house key under the mat, in a fake rock, or inside a magnetic house key box stuck to the underside of an outdoor pipe is never a good idea. The thieves know about these products and tricks and look for these easy access vulnerabilities.

Leaving Massachusetts for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask Neighbors To Watch

Let your neighbors know how long you will be away. In addition, provide a responsible neighbor with keys to your home and garage. Have them walk through your house on a regular basis. Check with your insurance provider to determine the frequency they require.

Leaving Montana for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the power went out, did your alarm turn back on? Is the furnace still up and running? A trusted neighbor can check and answer these questions instantly. Developing and maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is key to preparing for an extended trip.

Leaving New Hampshire for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Security Alarm System

Some folks wouldn’t consider leaving their house to go grocery shopping without setting the alarm system while some rural folks have never locked their front door.

Leaving South Dakota for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to keep your contacts current with the names and contact information of neighbors and house sitters who may be at the premises.

Leaving New York for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check All Smoke Detectors

Even though you will not be home, it’s still important that your smoke detectors are functioning properly. Change the smoke detector batteries on an annual basis, and test.

Leaving Ohio for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Motion Activated Outdoor Lights

Having exterior lights turn on is an excellent theft deterrent. Outdoor lights with built in motion sensors are available at Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon (among others) and do an excellent job at detecting and deterring would-be thieves. They can also automatically light the way when you get home.

Leaving Rhode Island for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be a Good Neighbor

As you can see, you are relying on your trusted neighbors or home-watching friends to help keep your home safe and intervening in any disaster. Consider thanking them with a thank you card and gift certificate at appropriate occasions. Also, when they are away, perform the same type of duties. 

Leaving North Dakota for a snowbird roost © 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…

You’ve heard the old Willie Nelson country music song with the lyrics, “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…” We’ll be singing this song for sure.