More than a million Canadian snowbirds are expected to head south this fall to renew their annual pilgrimage to warmer climates in Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
Many of those snowbirds are RVers who will be towing their homes on wheels across the U.S./Canadian border. Canada is now allowing fully-vaccinated U.S. travelers to enter the country for non-essential travel. But the U.S. has yet to return the favor. U.S. officials announced Friday that the border will be closed to non-essential travel from Canada until at least September 21.
About 70 percent of annual Canadian snowbirds drive south instead of fly to their destinations. Last year, about 70 percent of Canadian snowbirds were forced to stay put by the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures.
Traveling south for the winter could be complicated this year since many Canadians were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. It was approved for emergency use in Canada, but not in the U.S. It’s unclear if U.S. officials will recognize AstraZeneca shots as approved vaccinations. AstraZeneca has announced that it intends to ask the United States FDA for full approval of its vaccine later this year, instead of opting to ask for emergency use approval.
Acquiring travel health insurance for Canadian snowbirds could be tricky
Another factor facing snowbirds this winter will be the complexities of acquiring travel health insurance.
Will McAleer, executive director with the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, stated, “Some (insurance companies) will provide protection based on whether you are vaccinated or not. Some will have higher limits if you are vaccinated or not.” McAleer added: “Some might charge an extra premium if you’re not vaccinated, because if you’re not vaccinated it will account for the higher risk.”
U.S. sunbelt campgrounds are eagerly awaiting the return of Canadian snowbirds. Last year, parks were left to scramble with huge numbers of cancellations. Most were able to fill spots with U.S. campers looking to get away. However, many of those reservations weren’t made for the 3- to 4-month stretches common with Canadian snowbirds.