Update May 21, 2020 – Your editor just returned to CT from FL after agonizing about when and if to return. Part of the journey was by car (to Tallahassee) and the second part by air, which included a stopover in Charlotte). Car traffic in much of Florida is lighter than usual but with far more cars on the road than in April. In parts of FL along the Gulf Coast very few people wear masks, even in the supermarkets. In Miami the drivers are just as crazy and aggressive as ever, there are just fewer of them. The Tallahassee Airport was empty at 5:30 AM, and the Charlotte Airport jammed at 9:00 AM (see photos below). The planes were both full except for middle seats. We are glad to be up north again, our opinion is the situation is Florida is going to get crazy with everyone thinking the pandemic is over.
March 30, 2020 — The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc in just about every corner of our lives. Now it is presenting snowbirds with another dilemma – when and how to return from their warm winter escapes. Those with a lease ending on March 31 or April 30 have an even more difficult situation.
But the problem of when to return is just one decision to make. There is also the issue of how – drive, fly, or train. They might have existing reservations for both themselves and their vehicles – if those haven’t been cancelled yet. Let’s explore the issues via a few examples.
Barbara and Bill’s Florida lease expires tomorrow, March 31. As renters, their options are fewer. Their landlord informed them they must vacate. Short term rentals in the area are prohibited now, so there is no option for staying longer. They had planned on driving back to Maine, but worry that there won’t be any place to stop for gas, rest rooms, and overnight stays. Then there is the issue of roadblocks being set up in certain states (Rhode Island, Florida) to prohibit out of state visitors – will they be able to pass through and get home? Or will they just have to endure long lines of traffic? Flying is an option that seems better than it did before, since reports are that most planes are flying almost empty (as are the airports). But that leaves the problem of where to leave their car – finding a friend to store it or paying for long term parking. Decision: they will be driving back starting March 31 with relatives and friends hosting them on the way back.
Harry and Karen were also renters who came up against the end of their lease. They had been renting a car, so getting back to Texas from Florida meant flying, which worked out OK late last week.
Tony and Barbara flew back to Chicago from Florida last week. Although they own their own place, they felt they needed to go back north since she has a medical condition and needs to be near better medical facilities. They also wanted to be near family. There were only 3 people on the plane back, but had to worry about how they would get home from the airport.
Jack and Bobbie, owners in Florida, were planning on flying back in early May with their car driven separately. The weather is nicer where they are now than it is in Connecticut, but eventually it will get too hot and get into the hurricane season. Just about everything is closed in both places, so there is no advantage there. Assuming the May plane reservations are not cancelled, the driver of their car might still cancel. So driving seems like the solution, although that comes with the worry about gas stations being open, or that New Jersey, New York, and other states might try to block their return. They are hoping that relatives along the way will put them up so they can avoid motels (which if open are reporting high vacancy rates). Wait and see, hard as that is, seems to be the answer.
Out west and in other parts of the country there are other groups of retirees who stay in private or state campgrounds. Many state facilities have closed, so the folks in those places are on their way back north. Private campgrounds and RV parks mostly remain open, although many of them have closed their pools and clubhouses to maintain social distancing. Those people have the option to stay put longer, since there are probably vacancies, but the longer they stay the more dicey the conditions are for their return home.
So what are your plans for returning home?
If you are a snowbird down south, what are you planning to do (or what did you do)? Are you going to stick it out, or head north as soon as you can? Did you change how you plan on returning home? If you drove or fly, what kind of conditions did you encounter? What are you worried about? Please share your experiences, plans, and concerns in the Comments section below.
For further reading:
Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings