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Old 09-19-2011, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,290 posts, read 1,069,916 times
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Default New Snowbird packing advice

Okay, so in a couple of months we're going to be heading south for our first full winter in Dunedin, Florida. We have a modestly-sized Subaru Impreza (a little wagon.)

Anyone got packing advice?

On the clothing front, I suspect our summer wardrobe will take a beating, since we will now be wearing it for about half the year instead of a quarter. Plus our spring and fall wardrobes will get extra use down south, since we know it won't be all that warm in December/January.

We're going to try to minimize carrying household goods back and forth, but a few items will creep in. And most of our electronics will come along, of course. We both have ipods so will be transporting as much music as possible that way (and have a portable ipod dock for the FL condo.)

Any tips about what to take, or how to pack would be welcome.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Yellow Brick Road
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First of all . . . are you renting? - will they have a fully stocked kitchen as far as small appliances, for example? And linens - what is the situation w/ towels, bed linens, etc? Do you have any hobbies that require materials you will need while in Florida, i.e. sewing machine, art supplies/easel, photography equipment? Think about those things - as well as whether you will have a washer/dryer or will be using a laundromat.

As far as books, I read them on my iPhone, but am gonna get an iPad - so no more carting books around these days! Sounds like you are doing the same thing. :-) Something you may appreciate would be small speakers for your computer and/or iPhone. I picked up a pair of case logic small speakers that use a USB port - and they have been wonderful. They fit in my attache case along w/ my other periperals.

Wardrobe . . . well . . . my experience in Florida has been to keep it simple and no winter clothing (meaning - heavy wools, heavy knit sweaters, etc). However, tropical weight wool pants, khakis, navy blazer, linen or silk jacket for hubby, "hawaiian" style shirts, several white/blue long sleeve button down shirts, swimming trucks, navy/black/khaki bermuda shorts . . . and for me, black slacks, jeans, capris and lots of tops, along w/ several dress jackets, a few boho skirts/dresses, bathing suit, all weather coat for hubby and me . . . some scarves to dress things up as needed and fun costume jewelry to liven up simple tops/slacks. We pack as though we are going on a cruise, basically.

Make arrangements re: any prescriptions you will need! Also, there's the mail . . .and alerting any credit card companies that you wil use - so they know you will have authorized use in another location . . .

One thing we always have found is needed wherever we stay (rental): a flower vase or two! You are gonna want those fresh flowers to brighten up the place. I take a few baskets, too, as I use them to serve bread, appetizers, or to put fruit in, and my favorite casserole dish. (You can buy this stuff after getting there if you own your winter home).

If you are renting, you may want to bring some small appliances that you use regularly, such as a crockpot, roaster, blender. If this is a place you own, you may want to just buy those items. Definitely not worth hauling them back and forth every year. We learned this the hard way. We found a crockpot for under $15, electric frying pan, roaster, etc all at markdown. Now we no longer haul those items around and it is a blessed relief. But if we were doing a rental, I would have to break down and take at least my crockpot and roaster as we do not eat out that much. You may not care about cooking often, so those items would not be a big deal to you.

Consider what you may need for the bathroom. Some items you can pick up after you arrive; some things you may want to bring with you. Regardless, pack some paper towels, toilet paper, Clorox wet wipes (for quick clean ups on surfaces when you arrive) . . .

Pack a bag filled w/ things you will immediately need upon arriving, such as the Clorox wet wipes, evaported milk or long shelf life milk for coffee and cereal, box of cereal, french press (if you won't have a coffeemaker for the next morning) sugar, plastic spoons, paper plates, a day's meds, any day/night cream and facial cleanser you use (travel sizes are nice for this!) 2 wash cloths, 2 towels, hand towel, and PJs, a fresh set of clothing . . . this way, if you arrive late in the evening, you can always unpack the next morning and just bring in that one bag. So be sure to pack that bag in an easily accessible spot. Sure has made it easier for us to manage arriving after a long trip in the car.

ETA: Don't forget a can opener, bottle opener and wine opener! Somehow, we never have these items when we need them, lol.

Last edited by anifani821; 09-19-2011 at 09:23 AM..
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
2,403 posts, read 2,937,042 times
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We have been doing the partial year migration for 6 seasons...we take 2 cars, (for various reasons), but even with both, it is a packing job. We ship a few large boxes of clothes & light stuff, via UPS or Fedex ground, a few days before move. For a Buck Fifty to $200 max, one can send a lot of 'stuff', and it arrives like clockwork. And, take some cool/cold weather clothes you like: that part of FL can be seriously cold, by comparo, in Jan-Feb. 45 degs high & windy in FL, seems considerably cooler than 45 in most 'northern' areas, imo.

For 2 home families, it quickly becomes obvious that one needs many '2 of each' items, in both homes, and the carting of those kinds of things back and forth, gets old very soon, as is the space problem...

We try to take the 'winter season'/summer-like clothes we like, and if you find you are missing something, there are stores and stores full of summer stuff for sale.

List(s) help, and when you get into your FL digs, make some notes to yourself via a note prog or email to self, as the season progresses, as to what you need/don't need, should have brought, etc., for the next season.

A couple seasons under your belt, and you will find it much easier, though everyone leaves/forgets something(s) which are needed, but back at the 'other' house.

It is tempting to go 'Spartan', but I feel I'm 'there' for 5 months and 'here' for 7 months, and I am not going to rough it, just to save a few hundred or few thou bucks, while at either place.
GL, mD

edit: Ah, I see you are in YYZ area; the shipping of stuff, or even clothes, may be problematic as I'm not sure of the customs declaration issues. Be sure to monitor your CDA health ins situ, on 'time out of country'.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:04 AM
 
Location: NY & Fl
10,860 posts, read 7,317,034 times
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Clothes take up so much room.
I don't know how you feel about 2nd hand clothing but if that's not a problem, there are zillions of thrift stores in Florida.

If you're renting, or even if you're not,whatever kitchen/bath little things can be picked up in a Dollar Store. $20 goes loooong way for potato peelers,wine opener, spatulas, etc.
Bring your phone/address book. Not everybody can be found online and cell numbers aren't available.

Best thing to bring? Your credit card
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
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Thanks all,

First thank you for all the suggestions. Any specific suggestions or tips for packing the car? I keep picturing boxes of shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, drugs, coats, papers...at least we're leaving the cat at home with my son.

My comments below pertain to the very helpful postings above:

No we're not renting. The place came fully (and nicely) furnished, with bed linens, kitchenware, etc. We are gradually replacing the kitchen stuff with better quality, and will be buying lots of stuff like that. It's lots cheaper to acquire those things in Florida than Canada, so no problem there. I have a couple of favorite kitchen items that I will be taking--my favourite, expensive Paderno skillet, and perhaps my immersion blender, that sort of thing. The bathrooms are fully equipped.

Great advice for renters, however.

Hobbies: not really. I am learning to draw, but that's a pad of paper and a box of pencils. Camera is a small digital. Computer electronics is another matter--both our laptops will be coming, we'll leave the desktop at home. Probably buy a printer down there. Bird-watching, i.e., bring my binoculars!

We won't be carting books, except for perhaps one box of my husband's serious stuff (he's a physicist.) We both are into ebooks.

I definitely don't want to get into the situation where we own two of everything. I remember my mother, when she sold her trailer in Florida, coming home with 2 toasters and 2 TV sets, and umpteen sets of sheets, etc.

Yes, prescription drugs--I have to get onto our insurer, and our government, to find out how much we can get filled before we leave. I believe there is accommodation for snowbirds. And yes, I'll bring the original prescriptions with us.

Wardrobe. Yes, I love thrift shops. And yes, we'll bring along some cold weather duds for sure. And yes, will be bringing our "cruisewear" duds. And lots of bathing suits!

I just envision a box of shoes, a box of cosmetics and toiletries, and great huge suitcases full of shirts and pants, and blouses and dresses, and...shorts and capris and bathing suits.

Wardrobe . . . well . . . my experience in Florida has been to keep it simple and no winter clothing (meaning - heavy wools, heavy knit sweaters, etc). However, tropical weight wool pants, khakis, navy blazer, linen or silk jacket for hubby, "hawaiian" style shirts, several white/blue long sleeve button down shirts, swimming trucks, navy/black/khaki bermuda shorts . . . and for me, black slacks, jeans, capris and lots of tops, along w/ several dress jackets, a few boho skirts/dresses, bathing suit, all weather coat for hubby and me . . . some scarves to dress things up as needed and fun costume jewelry to liven up simple tops/slacks. We pack as though we are going on a cruise, basically.

I am definitely a list-maker, so I will be keeping a list for next year (just like I'm keeping one for this fall.) This includes, for our first winter, bringing down a few decor items from home, to make it feel like our place. I intend to make it our own this winter, slowly, but want to mix a few things back and forth so we can be reminded of the other place.

I won't try to ship, because of the customs issue. For me, it will be "time in US", not "time out of country", since the former can only be 181 days (six months minus one day), and latter can be around 7 months. I will be leaving Canada later than I'd like simply because of the 181 day rule--we're doing an Alaska cruise in the spring, and won't be back to
Canada until mid-May.

And I have a whole list of paperwork to bring: wills, bank information, lots of stuff.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
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If you play golf or, like to do outside activities, I still rec'd bringing or buying some windbreaker type gear, eg coat, windpants, light gloves, etc. I do 'winter' in Naples, FL (Zone 10a), and you will find your area is potentially damn 'cold' during several days/weeks of Jan-Feb. Besides your fave clothes from your list, the stores have anything clothes-wise you want.

As for avoiding that '2 of everything', you won't need everything, but realistically 2 of many things, unless you are 'going without stuff', or hauling a trailer.

For packing the car, I rec'd doing it a few days before departure, to get a feel for how things are fitting and, capacity; then stuff the nooks and crannies the day before you go.

I would investigate the shipping boxes of stuff I rec'd: it might be doable even across the border, as you are shipping from yourself to yourself.
GL, mD
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:41 PM
 
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We travel to the Keys in an RV and have found we make do with a lot less. Amazing how we got used to less "stuff" and actually enjoyed it. AFA clothes, there are washers and dryers, so don't need that many. Found we don't need to "get dressed" that often, so we stopped taking dress clothes and shoes. Two years ago we stayed in the Panhandle and had brought limited warm clothes. Unfortunately it was a bit cold so had to wash quite often.
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Yellow Brick Road
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We have found a lot of things are better not packed but rather purchased on arrival, then left behind for the next season. As others have mentioned, that is especially true for small appliances, and some clothing articles. I have a lightweight jacket (rain proof) I keep at our mountain house so I don't have to pack one when we come up here. I also keep a robe, a pair of black slip on shoes, a pair of rubber flip flops and toiletries. We just don't pack many toiletries any longer - too easy to purchase and since it is only a matter of months til we will be coming back - anything left here will still be fine when we return.

Trust me - the less you haul with you the happier you will be. Packing can be a real pain. There are very few things you won't be able to pick up for a very reasonable price once you are in Florida and leaving them behind (when you return to Canada) will make it that much easier the next year when you return.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,290 posts, read 1,069,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
If you play golf or, like to do outside activities, I still rec'd bringing or buying some windbreaker type gear, eg coat, windpants, light gloves, etc. I do 'winter' in Naples, FL (Zone 10a), and you will find your area is potentially damn 'cold' during several days/weeks of Jan-Feb. Besides your fave clothes from your list, the stores have anything clothes-wise you want.
We're snowbirds, Canadian ones, those people who prance around the beach in shorts when it's below 60, right? But don't worry, we'll have some warm clothes--last December we were there when it was below 50, and I've been in Florida during frosts. I love the outdoors, but believe me, I won't need windpants! Gloves, yes. And a scarf, I promise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
For packing the car, I rec'd doing it a few days before departure, to get a feel for how things are fitting and, capacity; then stuff the nooks and crannies the day before you go.
Good idea, I'll try that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
We have found a lot of things are better not packed but rather purchased on arrival, then left behind for the next season. ...
Trust me - the less you haul with you the happier you will be. Packing can be a real pain. There are very few things you won't be able to pick up for a very reasonable price once you are in Florida and leaving them behind (when you return to Canada) will make it that much easier the next year when you return.
Yep, I know we will build up a wardrobe down there, and equip our kitchen. I have a small wardrobe at our summer cottage, which is our 3rd residence, but still truck things back and forth. I guess you're right about toiletries, for sure.

I'm also going to bring my entire jewellery box. I'll pack the few valuable items in my overnight case so it will be with me, but most of the stuff is just costume jewellery, so will leave it in the car I think, under something.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:50 AM
 
Location: NY & Fl
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This is something I'm doing right now since we're leaving soon

Measure the space in the back of the car,lay it out in a room and start packing it.
Measure up,too, so you aren't blocking your back window unless you really love driving with just your side view mirrors.
Youll find out real soon how much you can fit in there.
If you can't live without lots, get a car top carrier and put all the clothes and soft stuff in it.
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