Are you preparing to drive south for the winter? Here are RV snowbirding tips to help you get there safely and happily!
Just like birds, RVers across northern North America are preparing to head south for the winter. These “snowbirds” leave their northern homes for a couple of weeks or the entire winter to escape the cold winter months for a warmer climate.
If you're joining the flock this year, we have some helpful snowbirding tips for the drive down. And, actually, some of these tips can help experienced snowbirds as well!
From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, we share our best tips for a snowbird road trip, plus helpful resources!
Hey, if you buy something through my links, I might get a little something-something as a thank you. No extra cost to you, promise! Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
Top 10 Road Trip Tips for RV Snowbirds
We have lots of articles on the RV snowbird lifestyle, including the most popular snowbird destinations and other great places to stay. But in this article, we're going to cover the most important things to consider for your drive down.
The following RV travel tips will help during all road trips, but especially during the snowbird season. Since you're heading out for long periods of time, you want to make sure you're prepared and comfortable!
1. Inspect Your Tires Carefully
Before setting off on your winter adventure, it's crucial to inspect your tires. Better yet, take them to a trusted tire shop, because the back of tires are difficult to properly inspect at home.
Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure, so make sure they are properly inflated. Additionally, check for any signs of wear and tear or damages.
Don't forget to pack a spare tire, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable air compressor.
We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to read the following articles, as they can save you from ending up on the side of the road or even save your life:
- When to Replace RV Tires (Advice from Real RVers)
- Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day (Here’s Why!)
- How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout
2. Get Comfy Accessories for the Road Trip
Long drives can take a toll on your comfort. Making your RV as cozy as possible for the driver and passengers is essential.
Invest in soft pillows, warm blankets, and supportive seat cushions. We recommend these 10 Accessories to Stay Comfortable on a Long Road Trip.
For nervous passengers, we recommend reading How to Calm Your Nerves While Riding Shotgun in an RV.
3. Prep Your Roadside Emergency Kit
No matter how cautious you are, emergencies can happen. Prepare a roadside emergency kit containing essential items like a first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, extra batteries, roadside flares, and a basic toolkit.
It's also a good idea to have spare fuses, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable jump starter. Stay prepared and feel confident on the road.
In addition to a roadside emergency kit, we recommend carrying RV roadside assistance coverage. Here are some helpful resources:
- 5 Emergency Roadside Kit & Products for Your RV
- Why RVers Need RV Roadside Assistance Coverage (5 Reasons)
- RV Pro Tip: The Best RV Roadside Assistance
4. Make Sure Your RV Insurance Is in Order
Before heading south, double-check your RV insurance coverage. Ensure that your policy includes comprehensive coverage for both accidents and natural disasters related to your destination.
Confirm that your policy extends to the full duration of your trip and that you have coverage for any additional drivers. Roadside assistance is also valuable, so it's worth considering including it in your policy.
Here are some helpful resources:
- 5 Professional Tips for Buying RV Insurance
- Why RVers Need RV Roadside Assistance Coverage (5 Reasons)
- RV Pro Tip: The Best RV Roadside Assistance
5. Make Sure Your Health Insurance & Prescriptions Are In Order
Your health is of utmost importance, and you don't want to wait until something goes wrong or your prescriptions run out to find a solution.
The farther you get from your doctor and pharmacy, the trickier things can become. Unless you're prepared!
We have some very helpful resources regarding managing your healthcare while traveling:
- Medical Needs While RVing – 8 Handy Tips
- 7 Super Easy Ways How RVers Handle Health Care on the Road
- LIFE-SAVING RV Emergency Preparedness: Don’t Become a Statistic!
6. Follow the 330 Rule
The “330 Rule” is you “stop when you have driven 330 miles or it’s 3:30 in the afternoon.” The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles.
I learned the value of this rule the hard way. If I hadn't adopted it, I think Jennifer would have kicked me out on the side of the road and kept driving.
You can learn more about the many benefits of the 330 Rule by clicking here or watching this video:
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7. Have Podcasts or Audiobooks Queued Up
Long stretches of road can get monotonous, and lead to drowsiness or irritability. To make the journey more enjoyable, have a collection of your favorite podcasts or audiobooks ready to keep you entertained.
You can learn something new or dive into exciting stories while cruising down the highway, making the hours fly by. That's why we factored in listening accessories in our 10 Accessories to Stay Comfortable on a Long Road Trip.
Here are some great resources and recommendations for your drive south:
- Libby (A FREE library of ebooks & audiobooks connected to your library card)
- Audible (Amazon subscription)
- RV Lifestyle Podcast
- 10 Best Books to Read While Camping
- 5 Best Road Trip Games for Adults
- 20 Travel Trivia Questions for Road Trip Fun PLUS RV Industry BONUS Questions
8. Embrace Serendipity Travel
While planning your route is important, don't be afraid to embrace the spontaneous side of RV travel. Allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the itinerary and explore unexpected attractions or beautiful camping spots along the way.
Serendipity travel can lead to unforgettable experiences and hidden gems you might have missed otherwise.
You can see some of the amazing places and experiences we've enjoyed because of serendipity.
9. Use Fuel Discounts
Whether your RV runs on diesel or gas, fuel costs are a big part of your travel budget. RV fuel discount cards and programs help you stretch those dollars farther.
The benefits range from discounted gas prices to multiple ways to save at specific locations. Plan your fuel stops accordingly to take advantage of these discounts, helping you save money while enjoying your snowbird journey.
Here's a great article on RV Fuel Discount Cards & More (for gas and diesel!).
10. Get a Reciprocal Membership
RVers can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships that give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos, and more!
A reciprocal membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that extends benefits to all members of participating institutions. So, if you have a reciprocal membership with, say, one museum, you’ll get benefits from all other museums in that network.
Benefits may include free or discounted admission, merchandise discounts, special newsletters, and other great deals. It's a great way to save while doing fun things along your drive. Learn more by clicking here…
Bonus Tip: Plan Your Camping Menu!
During the long drive south, your travel companion can design a delicious camping menu. Our sister site, CampingFoodRecipes.com, has all kinds of tasty camping recipes for your grill, campfire, and RV oven.
Here's an example of a 1-day camping menu:
- Crockpot French Toast Casserole Recipe
- Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken Kabobs (w/ Easy Marinade)
- Grilled Turkey Burger Recipe with Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Doctored Cake Mix with Pudding Recipe
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.