If you think the pandemic has made life rough for snowbird RVers in the U.S., just think about what it has done to full-time RVers north of the border who want to again travel south to the sunshine.
The U.S. has extended the closing of its side of the border with Canada until at least October 21. Currently, no non-essential travel by Canadians is allowed into the United States, regardless of vaccination status. In August, Canadians began allowing in Americans for non-essential travel who can prove they are vaccinated.
Canadians who live full time in their rigs and who regularly travel to the southern U.S. for the winter now face a dilemma. Many have expensive standing extended reservations at RV parks in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, or Arizona. Most of those reservations start in October or early November. But they currently have no way to legally cross the border driving their own rigs.
Last fall, many full-time Canadian snowbirds were forced to scramble to the coast of British Columbia to garner a spot in one of the few campgrounds that stayed open all year. Most want to return to their down-south winters, regardless of the cost.
A way around the rules
Some Canadian snowbirds and at least one transport company are getting creative. Laura Fordham and her husband, who are currently based in their RV at a park in Puslinch, Ontario, told CBC News they are prepared to pay a commercial driver to transport their RV across the land border in Michigan.
A new service being provided by Transport KMC, a Quebec-based company, has a deal that flies snowbirds from an airport just outside of Montreal to nearby Plattsburgh, New York, just 64 miles south. A certified Transport KMC driver then drives their RV to the Plattsburg airport for “delivery,” and the Canadian snowbirds are free to continue their journey to warmer climates.
The snowbird loophole so far seems to be working. Since Canadians are still allowed to fly into the U.S., Transport KMC devised the plan to charter the plane, fly the snowbirds just across the border, then deliver their RV as a commercial delivery to the American airstrip.
Snowbird RVers are paying $500 a seat for the flights, and it costs about $1,000 to transport the RV across the border. “Every commercial transaction at the border is considered essential,” Transport KMC owner Michael Couturier told CBC News. “We’ve got to have all of the paperwork, and then we are allowed to do it.” He said KMC flies two flights to Plattsburgh each weekend, and the flights are always full.
If you’d like Transport KMC to bring your rig all the way to your final southern destination, it can be done for about $4,300. Catering to the current needs of Canadian snowbirds has allowed Transport KMC to keep all of its 35 workers employed.
According to the Canadian Snowbird Association, more than a million Canadians make the trek south in a typical year, and most cross the border in a vehicle.
Canadian snowbird RVers Bernard Loiselle and Sylvie Charbonneau were happy to use the service to be able to continue their trip to Florida.
“It was great to see – from the plane – our RV down there waiting to us,” Loiselle said.