Winter vacation planning for snowbirds
White stuff on the ground already? In the blink of an eye, fall is gone and winter sets in. And with the changing of the seasons, we also see another type of migration — Canadian “snowbirds” flocking to the south. Here are some quick tips to help with your winter vacation planning.
Snowbirds are among over half a million Canadians (usually retirees) who travel and stay in warmer destinations for the winter. Whether you’re considering becoming part of this growing demographic or just want a quick winter escape, here are some resources to help you plan for your trip.
1. Do your research
Make sure you research all the rules and regulations for both countries you’re travelling between. While snowbirds usually get to enjoy the best of both worlds in their home and host countries, it’s important to be mindful of things such as taxes.
We all know that if you spend too much time in the sun, you can get burned. Snowbirds spending time in the U.S. Sunbelt face an additional threat that no amount of sunscreen can protect them from – the IRS.
That’s because Canadian snowbirds who spend winters in the United States may find that they are subject to tax by the Internal Revenue Service on their worldwide income. It is important to understand the U.S. tax rules – and the actions snowbirds need to take to avoid being taxed south of the border.
The common understanding is that a snowbird can spend up to 182 days in the United States each calendar year without any tax consequences. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. The U.S. income-tax code says an individual is subject to U.S. tax on their worldwide income if they meet what is known as the Substantial Presence Test (SPT).
2. Stay informed on the latest updates about travelling abroad
The guidelines for travelling to different countries change from time to time. Make sure you regularly check on those details, especially closer to your travels.
It is important to be prepared and to expect the unexpected wherever in the world you may be. Here is helpful information on health and safety, travel documents, Canada-U.S border wait times, travelling with children and more.
- Travel Advice and Advisories: Country-specific information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues
- Travel health and safety: Essential information on travel health and safety risks and how to prevent them
- Travel documents: Passports, visas, international driving permits and other documents you will need when you travel abroad
3. Ask the experts
Still looking for more advice? Ask some current snowbirds about their experience. To find these experts, start at the Canadian Snowbird Association, which offers a news section of their site and a discussion forum, appropriately named Bird Chat, to learn from others’ experiences. They also provide other useful resources, including a newsletter with helpful information.
Still looking for more info? Explore these quick and helpful resources from ACU.
Some of us, want to get out and travel the world while others, may just need some time away, now and then. We can all agree, though, that It’s nice to take a break and enjoy a change of pace and a change of scenery. And a little planning will help ensure you that you get the rest and relaxation you need, stress-free.
When travelling for an extended period of time, it pays to have a backup plan.
You can’t plan for the unexpected, but you can have an emergency fund to help you out when the unexpected happens. Whatever you decide to put away, knowing that you have it on hand can give you peace of mind. You won’t have to scramble to come up with money you need and you don’t have to turn to credit cards. Even if your emergency fund isn’t big enough to handle everything, it can still help reduce the amount of money you must look for from other sources.
When you’re travelling to another province or country, you may not be fully covered by your provincial healthcare plan. Extensive coverage can include Emergency Hospital, Medical, Baggage and Trip Cancellation insurance.
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