40 Snowbird Hacks, Tips
40 Snowbird Hacks, Tips
No one wants to haul a bunch of limited use household items to/from their snowbird home, nor is it practical to purchase everything while away only to leave it behind. Maybe you or it will be there again, maybe not. Snowbirds are smart, savvy and rely on their own basic, hard-working hacks to maximize space, dual purpose, repurpose, reduce duplication and make their life easier while on the road and away for an extended time.
-Take photos and/or video of key areas of your home prior to departure. Don't forget to take a photo of the odometer for all vehicles left behind.
-Create cargo zones for your pet and personal items. For example, allocate the front 1/3 of cargo space in your SUV for the dog and dog bed, 1/3 of the back for the dog's ramp/walkway and the remaining 2/3 of the back for boxes and belongings. It's easier to budget SUV cargo space with large boxes that can contain smaller boxes or plastic storage bins and other items so you can better plan in advance how much can realistically fit into each zone. The larger boxes will keep the smaller boxes from sliding around as much. Save all boxes and packing materials for the return trip. If traveling by sedan, the entire back seat may need to be allocated to the dog with personal belongings in the trunk and the legroom space of the back seat.
-Freeze a few water bottles ahead of your trip and use them as ice packs if you have room for a small cooler
-Assign color coded travel bags for each person and pet: such as green for the dog, orange for travel snacks and brown for her hotel duffel and black for his. Duffel bags and tote bags are ideal for the road trip.
-Pack your snowbird clothes and any linens/beach towels in space bags, not suitcases
-Portion each dry kibble meal for your pet in baggies or small plastic containers to bring only the needed food into the hotel. If packing canned food, make sure it has a pop tab and bring a plastic spoon to scoop it out.
-Give your pet plain yogurt from the hotel's breakfast bar, if available, to help with stress and digestion while in transit
-Bring a couple of apples or bananas from your hotel's breakfast bar, if it's available. Having the first day's worth of fresh fruit in your snowbird home is helpful until you can get to the store to stock your fridge
-Bring smaller amounts of your most-used spices and dried herbs from home in Tic Tac® containers or small baggies to avoid purchasing full sized containers
-Premix your spices and grilling rubs at home and bring only the amount you expect to use while away. Small airtight tins and plastic storage containers work well.
-Bring appropriate portions of pantry essentials from home in zip-top baggies or airtight plastic containers, such as flour, sugar, brown sugar, kosher salt, stone ground grits and oats
-Refer to digital or cloud-based files of your recipes. If you don't have them typed in a digital document, take photos of your go-to recipes and upload them
-Bring your own sharp knives, wooden spoons and spatulas from home, your snowbird rental likely will not have any, enough or the quality you expect. Transport them in a plastic shoebox-sized bin that is easily stored on a countertop for your entire visit to avoid mixing your items with the supplies in your rental kitchen.
-Pack small canning jar/s with a tight lid to use for homemade salad dressings or other liquids
-If you can buy a smaller amount of inexpensive items such as Canola oil or a box of baking soda while in your snowbird home, do it and throw those items away if there isn't enough space to bring them home. It's better to trash $5 worth of pantry products than squeeze them into an already overcrowded vehicle.
--Skip plastic: tent your cooked fish/poultry/meats and store food in the fridge by covering them with similar-sized bowls or plates instead of plastic
-Baking soda and vinegar works well as a non-abrasive cleanser for pots/pans
-Use a fork if no whisk is available
-Use foil if no or limited amounts of baking sheets
-Improvise measuring cups --if your rental has just one measuring cup, use it as a baseline to determine your measurements as they convert to a glass in your cupboard. Figure out the equivalents for one cup, half a cup, etc.
-Pack your favorite store brands from home if you know your snowbird community doesn't have the same stores. IE, tea, coffee, taco seasoning or other specialty items you can't find in your snowbird stores
-Bring your own extra virgin olive oil in a leak-proof canning jar from home if you typically buy it in large sizes
-Sign up for local loyalty cards to save extra money on your grocery bills
-Purchase instant rice vs. bringing a rice cooker
-Pre-made salads in a bag are a great option to reduce stocking full-sized quantities of ingredients
-Save a few packets if you are dining at a restaurant that offers sugar, taco and soy sauce, mayo, ketchup and mustard, if you prefer not to stock full sizes of any of those items
Glassware makes an ideal holder for makeup, accessories, toothbrush or pen and scissors holder for your desk
-Make a sturdy flower vase by removing the label and cutting the top off a clean two liter soda bottle
-Coffee cups and drinking glasses also make good flower vases
-Use the bathtub as a laundry hamper, especially if your dog can't stay out of your laundry that's in a pile on the floor
-Store shoes in dresser drawers or on a closet shelf
-Tape a decent sized strip of paper (3" X 11.5") on your sliding glass doors at eye level so it's easier for your pet to determine when the doors are shut and avoid slamming into them. This tip was inspired by our Golden, who hit the closed slider so hard he knocked it off the track.
-A space-saving laser pointer is fun for your dog to chase instead of bouncing balls, which get lost and likely annoy your downstairs neighbors
-Bring digital files of your important general documents, such as addresses and contact information
-Pack a print out of your confidential passwords, copies of the front and back of all of your credit cards, plus financial, health and important documents -- anything that should not be kept in a cloud or digitally
-If your rental doesn't have a desk, carve some work space at the end of the dining table or from a small table
-Purchase small plastic shoe box-sized storage bins and assign one to each of the following: kitchen, office, bathroom and personal toiletries. You will know in advance how much space you can allocate to each and they stack nicely. They never need to be unpacked -- just keep one in each room and put items back as you use them.
-Repurpose plastic food containers such as deli containers once empty, to become storage containers, then dispose of them before travelling home
-Save every plastic grocery bag to use as wastepaper basket liners and pick up pet waste.
-Pack your jewelry in small baggies within your bathroom tote. Segment by bracelet, necklace or earrings.
-Repurpose plastic carryout restaurant bags, they are sturdy and can hold a lot of items
Mindset Hack: Replace 'I have to' with 'I get to'