How to Become a Snowbird in Europe

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How to Become a Snowbird in Europe

If you live in a cooler climate, chances are that by the time yet another winter comes around, you’ve had enough. Some people decide to avoid chilly winters altogether by packing their suitcases and heading for warmer weather each time the frost begins to creep in. 

Known as snowbirds because their migration patterns mimic those of birds, these beach-lovers and shorts-wearers love nothing more than escaping the winter chill in favor of sunnier days.

If you’re considering a snowbird lifestyle, Europe offers the perfect opportunity to spread your wings and head for warmer territory. Here’s how to get your European snowbird lifestyle started:

Master the Move

The one downside of becoming a snowbird is the seasonal migration it entails. Most snowbirds ultimately decide to purchase a getaway property, but if that’s not feasible with your budget, a rental is always an option. Buying is convenient because it means you can leave some essential items behind in your second property, minimizing the challenge of moving. 

Packing and unpacking constantly throughout the year can be a downer, so proper organizational tactics are a must. Better yet, create a moving checklist organized by date, so you know exactly when to pack away each item on your list. After a couple of seasons, you’ll be packing and unpacking like a pro.

International data plans are another issue to consider. Depending on how long you’ll be staying in your European getaway each year, you may want to consider purchasing local SIM cards upon arrival. Otherwise, you can sign up for an international data plan with your carrier back home.

A Note on Stay Durations

If you don’t have citizenship to a member state of the European Union, you may be limited on how long you can stay in the area. This makes the European snowbird different from the American one. For U.S. citizens, stays in EU territory can last up to 90 days out of every 180. That means you can remain in Europe for three months at a time, after which point you’ll be obligated to return stateside for another three months.

Prioritize Health

When you’re constantly on the move, health can sometimes take a backseat. These days, with new COVID-19 health concerns on the horizon each day, it’s important not to neglect your health amidst all the fun of a snowbird lifestyle.

Before traveling, it’s wise to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and other relevant illnesses to avoid spreading viruses upon touching down in your new home. Additionally, vaccines will help allay your own health concerns. The pandemic also affects travel restrictions, meaning it’s best to stay up-to-date with all health-related news that could impact your travel plans.

Other health considerations include health and travel insurance, as well as how you’ll care for your body. Constant travel can take a toll on the body, especially if you’re sleeping in unfamiliar beds, sitting for extended periods, or lugging around heavy suitcases. Eating a balanced diet and practicing good hygiene are ways of avoiding illness and strengthening your body. Maintaining your health when traveling Europe is essential to making the most out of your adventure.

Start Exploring Destinations

The beauty of becoming a European snowbird is that you’re free to explore the whole continent while using your getaway as a home base. That means that if you do get the itch to ski, you can be at the slopes with only a few hours of travel. Likewise, the seaside is at your fingertips. European snowbirds have the flexibility to explore different climates but the privilege of a warm home base.

Some people travel for gastronomy, others for history, and still others for art and monuments. When exploring vacation destinations, consider traveling around a theme that interests you. One example of a popular themed trip revolves around wine. Topping the list of the best European destinations for wine are Bordeaux, France; Tuscany, Italy; and Douro Valley, Portugal. These selections likely come as no surprise, as they’re all areas known for their historic wine production.

If beachside relaxation is more your speed, consider Sicily, Italy; southern Spain, or the Algarve region of Portugal. During the winter months, prices plummet and tourists clear out, allowing you the private snowbird getaway of your dreams.

Wisely Select Your Home Base

Your home base is your home away from home, and it’s important to somewhere comfortable that suits your lifestyle. For example, you may want to be located near a major airport, in a city with a lot of English speakers, or perched on the seashore.

Take the first year as a trial run, with no pressure to make a long-term commitment. Before long, you’ll be sampling local cuisine to your heart’s content, napping at the seaside, and jetting around Europe to soak in all the culture and history possible. That’s not a bad trade for a blustery winter day; it’s no wonder people choose to become European snowbirds.