should never leave home without supplementary Out of
Country/Out of Province
a wide choice of companies offer extensive coverage--find one that
is beneficial to you. Competition
Many advertise in Seniors newspapers.
have listed several on the forum
Things we All should Know
each question honestly.
FULLY report ALL pre-existing conditions.
Never stretch the truth or eliminate important medical facts
on your application. NOTE: If
you do not understand the question ask
a travel-insurance professional to help.
for everything in writing--verbal
agreements are worth nothing.
companies will cover everything (but a specific pre-existing
condition) for a lower policy price.
you’re healthy with no medical problems – ask if high
deductible policies can save you money. With this type of policy
you pay all bills within your deductible. The
savings may and may not be worth it but it is nice to know it is
You gamble you will stay healthy and the Insurance knows your initial
problems will not cost them.
savings are multi-trip policies. Number of trips are
unlimited if getaways are within your 30, 60, or 90 day policy.
Proof of when you left home such as a toll bridge receipt or a gas
receipt may be needed.
may be more economical for short trips.
few companies will also allow you to extend your policy from your
should have ‘out of province’ medical.
Yes, provinces extend reciprocal agreements to non-residents,
however all procedures covered at home may not be covered by your host
cautious before ‘topping up’ a retirement insurance
package or bank ‘Gold’ card coverage. Discuss details with your
insurance agent. NOTE:
In some cases a medical problem on the 38th day of an original
retirement or bank 40 day policy may not be covered on your topped -up policy because
you now have pre-existing condition.
care may be reciprocal but Ontario (OHIP) for instance does not pay for any air ambulance to get
you home or to get your vehicle home or if things turn bad, your
remains home. Each province have different rules.
Rates for this coverage can be as low as .55 cents per day. (call 1
888 302 7873 (one of many carriers) for more info) This company even offers coverage
Most provinces offer the majority of
services on a reciprocal basis
but all procedures and medication may not be covered.
of the 40 day Federal Government insurance can now top up this
from the 500,000 to 5 million for a very low annual fee. For those up
to, and including 65 years old the cost to update is approximately
$75.00 - $100.00. This is a new service - more info is available from ETTS
at 877 832 6025 or contact your Insurance provider to ask if
they offer this service. This
40 days can be topped-up but see the info above for more detail.
call your carrier BEFORE you authorize any test or procedures.
Snowbirds accepting care without permission may have to pay the
policy should include Air Ambulance ‘repatriation’ to home–
not just to a better hospital.
If your policy does not include Air Ambulance one great option is MASA (Medical Air
Services Ass’n) 817-430-4655. FYI - However most out of country/out of
province medical coverage includes Air Ambulance coverage.
supplementary policies only assist in emergency care, they
are not exactly like the comprehensive coverage we enjoy in Canada.
Out of Country Insurance companies
contact info is advertised in Seniors newspapers and travel magazines to find
IMPORTANT IS TO BE UP-FRONT WHEN APPLYING FOR YOUR POLICY. The
company will check up on your medical history before they pay a claim.
DRUGS ACROSS BORDERS
is a good idea to keep RX drugs in their original packages. When
possible it is also a good idea to carry the written prescription or
at least a copy of it. If you take a lot of drugs getting a written
list from your Dr may be helpful but we have never been asked for one. This is especially true if you use
needles such as for Insulin etc.
same policy applies to pet medications.
- via mail
winter mail took 21-23 days to travel from Canada to Texas.
Apparently everything was being scanned at the border. International
Post costs about $16.00 but it only takes 5-7 days. Mail Boxes Etc (UPS
STORE) sends our
mail south using Express Post once per month. I buy the envelopes.
Canada Post or a friend can forward your
mail, however this could become a hassle for extended stays, but a
monthly mailing reduces the dimension of the task.
Numerous RVers subscribe to independent USA
mail forwarding services advertised in International RV magazines.
option is to send mail
to a USA mail forwarding
system. This way your plans are not held up waiting for mail to arrive
if it is delayed
coming from Canada. When your US address receives your mail AND YOU
PROVIDE AN ADDRESS, they will forward it by Priority (3 day) Post.
Even if you are on the move, a USA mail
forwarding service provides an address to receive mail, magazines
and info from US clubs; and especially form your new found American
also comes in handy to obtain US credit cards/bank cards; our
Verizon cell phones, or an address to
send rebate coupons plus product warranties for US purchases.
Mail Boxes Etc.
(now UPS Store) will provide a postal address especially for Canadians (it is not a
residence). They forward mail for $2-- $3. plus the cost of shipping.
They will also go through your mail with you while you're on the phone
to search for a special letter; plus they offer
numerous more services. This
is a great alternative for those who prefer not to ask friends and
A voice message service
is another valued asset. You can add a ‘message service’ to your
home and/or cell phone or subscribe to a separate service advertised
in International RV magazines --- some companies combine both mail and
Clubs such as FMCA (Family Motor
Coach Association), Escapees, Good Sam etc also provide message
services for their members. Since we are FMCA members before we got
our USA cell phone we’re only 24
hours (between check-ins) So we were never far away from good or bad
voice mail news. See the RV
Club section on RV WebLinks Page. Members of
FMCA must own a motorhome.
Many calling cards charge a
connect surcharge per call. A more economical alternative is using a card without
surcharges or a prepaid calling card. However two to five or
even more units may be
required to call Canada and sometimes 5 units per minute while
NOTE This story
relays the 'How-to of Calling Home' in detail *** How
do Snowbirds Call
Home From The USA ?
Bell Canada’s ‘Hello Type’ cards,
users call to home are at low residential rates.
For safety sake transfer all
phones to a
voice mail or call forward to another number.
A ringing telephone is a positive signal to burglars that no
one is home.
Carrying a cell phone
in your vehicle is a must for emergency situations. However understand your usage plans. AT&T
‘One-rate’ plans are great but they may still charge $4.00 extra per minute
in some locations. They refer to this fee as Roaming. if you are travelling to the USA (cost
250 minutes ---$75.00) It is easy to end up with an extra $1000.00 on
all cell plans expect to pay for minutes used the month the bill
arrives at your phone company office, not the
month you made the calls. If you do not keep track it is easy to add
many extra minutes that are late arriving at you
r cell office.
Many plans are now a One-Rate plan with generous amount of minutes.
All RVers should have a CB/weather
station on board
for emergencies. However a
cell phone is more secure when providing your breakdown location but a
CB may transmit a stronger signal when in no service cell areas.
Some USA pay phones
.25-.35 cents per toll free calls. Charges may show up on your
statement or be accessed by coins at the phone receiver.
If you have no toll-free access number on your calling card,
it is wise to dial 1800 CALL ATT or Bell Cda' s 1-800-555-1111 before the number your
calling - USA & Cda Independent pay phones can charge exorbitant fees.
AND BANKING INFO:
Be sure to test your
client card in Wal*Marts and grocery stores as a Debit card. B of
M cards work but I am hearing that many other cards also work at these store
cash registers. By paying for your purchase by Debit and taking
cash-back you avoid costly ATM Fees.
If one (ATM) automatic teller machine will not
accept your card try another ATM.
In the USA/Canada look for 'ATM’s'
in banks, shopping malls, grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores
etc. In Canada these are also
called ‘debit’ cash’ or ‘Interac’ and frequently are in banks..
Remember your PIN
(personal identification number)---do not write it down
If you punch in the wrong number
three times some ATM’s will either take your card or rend it inactive.
The machine assumes the card may be stolen.
Replacing a lost card
while in the USA is a frustrating experience. Most Canadian Banks prefer
cardholders physically punch in their PIN for new cards at their branch.
To be safe never count your cash at the machine---be
mindful of those nearby.
no longer go south with a winter supply of cash --- our monthly pensions are
direct- deposited; we withdraw what
RVers move from place to place, opening a bank
account is not an option.
Ways some RVers access cash flow---
A. Prepaying a credit card each month and withdrawing
your own money.
B. American Express Office will cash a no fee personal
check for cardholders.
C. Many US banks will cash a cheque from a Cdn bank
(converted of course) if non-residents have two credit cards and photo ID
Snowbirds staying in one place
should ask their home bank for a ‘Letter of Credit’. It paves
the way to access immediate benefits with minimal credit check
you open an account at your winter home
the balance is
WD amount requested, there should be no waiting.
If your cheque amount is higher
than your account balance expect a two-week waiting period for your
cheque to clear
Winter visitors should appoint
someone at home as a Banking Power of Attorney with access to your banking
and checking accounts. They
simply sign a bank form stating they will not take money out if they know you are
'next of kin' in the past acted as our ‘P of Attny’,
to deposits cheques, intercedes if is a problem
surfaces with our bank, opens official looking mail and pays any
Right now the owner of our UPS store goes
through our mail with me on the phone and he deposits our checks.
is popular but so is telephone banking. Whatever works is easier for RVers on the move,
especially if access to computers is limited. We save ‘on-line’ access for
more interesting usage.
For Tele-banking call an 800# to pay bills, transfer funds, obtain updated statements
and more. Transact with a real person or by voice action. Internet banking is also available and more convenient. Most banks do not charge seniors for
Expect to pay $300.-$500. per
month extra just to be a tourist to buy things.
This is on top of US/Cdn exchange fees.
During the last 8-10 winters my
Bank of Montreal
client card has routinely worked as a debit card in Wal*Marts and large grocery
stores in the USA. By taking 'cash-back'
spending, I eliminate ATM fees for withdrawals and charges at
our Canadian bank. Most bankcards now function as debit cards in US
stores. Technology is changing; test yours it is worth a try!
Several months ago I had a
request by email reference to a budget question. The following will
provide several ideas.
This has been an ongoing conversation about budget costs for fulltiming
years---I am relaying it here for the info of everyone.
Hi Anne and Henry: Thanks for the update. Many times the 1-2 year start-up
turns into 10 plus, but on the other hand we have friends that didn't last
a year, they were not happy unless they had a stationary place somewhere.
The RV Lifestyle offers something for everyone.
You asked about costs. The general consensus is a minimum of $30,000.00 a
year, but that amount is so vague. Your expenses on the road will be the
same or higher than they are now. Fulltiming is not a way to live cheap.
Your costs will be as a result of personal choices.
We also do not know what country you call home so I will give you figures
in US$'s and if you are Canadian you will have to convert it while you are in the USA. Our
Cdn dollar is improving but the exchange still fluctuates. It may or
may not be good for those of us who
want to travel south. The Canadian dollar continues to be lower but
close to par - a real bargain for our US neighbours who
take time to explore the friendly country to the north. To convert to Cdn
$'s to US$ divide the cost by exchange rate to find the US
There is no set amount required to live on the road fulltime. The
following are some of our static costs
1. Camping will be between $300.00 to $800.00+ plus tax depending what
state you are in, location to attractions and what camping clubs you
belong too and if you pay full price. Most discount camping clubs run
between $10.00 to $20.00 plus tax per night.
2. Groceries cost us between $500.00-$700.00 per month for everything we
buy in the grocery store.
3. We eat out about 4 times per month = $20.00 lunches ---(much more for
dinners) per time approx $80- $100.
4. A close estimate puts our total living expenditures equal
approximately $1000.00 to $1200.00 per month and we frequently travel by
discount camping clubs---$300. +tax per month.
5. If you enjoy expensive hobbies such as golf, tennis etc. or you smoke or
drink you costs will be much higher.
6. Allowance for gas/fuel costs --- average 10-14 miles per gallon for
diesel, less for gas---Costs change per gal. Price will be
determined depending on where you plan to drive and how many miles you
7. Propane can be high - some times delivery trucks charge a costly
service fee. Cheaper at the pump to fill a portable.
8. You should have access to about $5000.00 in an emergency fund. We do
not leave cash sitting around collecting dust, instead we set aside a zero
balanced credit card to take care of emergencies --- we will rearrange
funds when we return to our home location in the spring..
9. Other things that need covering include
Internet ISP fees
tax consultants/fees etc
emergency road service
Discount club dues and RV Club
house costs while you are away.
10. I may have missed some things but the above will give you the idea.
To figure what it will cost
YOU---use the above expenses as
a guide. We know RVers who fulltime on social security and we have friends
who can't exist on $5-$6 K per month. It seems no matter how much John and
I have coming into the bank every month, the last week before payday, the
money well is extremely low in available cash.
Now it is time to pull out the paper and pencil to determine how much it
will cost you to hit the road F/T. Take care---don't worry, the time will
fly by. The highway will be your home before long. Take care, RV Living -
the Freedom adventure.
With a few preliminary preparations it is easy to
travel secure. Do
not do anything in another country or city that you would not do at home.
Prepare your home so it looks lived in, have
someone check your plumbing plus your house in general every few
days---you can ask a friend or hire someone.
Do not let your security guard down in a campground
either---always lock doors when you leave your unit. Your neighbours
may be friends but others may be watching you.
Storage Pod keys are transferable from one unit to
another--Your outside storage is not secure unless you change the
Neither is the main lock in the handle of your RV door. Only the
dead bolt lock is secure.
Always lock car doors in congested traffic
situations as well as in parking areas. Open doors make it
easy access for anyone to steal a purse or to become an unwanted
STREET-SMART YOUR WALLET
1. Duplicate important papers such as driver’s licence,
Insurance certificate, passports, medical and insurance cards.
If these are lost you will at least have original numbers to assist
2. Make a list of all wallet contents; keep it in a safe place.
If you record all credit card numbers there is no need to pay for credit
card security services.
4. Carry only one credit card each at a time.
Switch periodically if you wish.
If you loose your wallet, you will only be inconvenienced, not
Ti - Some Repeats for importance
for an extended stop choose one of
the many truck stops en route rather than rest areas---especially after
dark. Most truck stops welcome
RVers plus all the activity round the clock makes for a relatively safe stopping
RV friendly places like Flying J Truck Stops
provide separate parking for RVers---they’re special RV Islands include air
pumps, sewer dumps, fresh water, diesel and gas. Flying J’s Advantage
Club benefits also include a discount for gas/diesel.
Truck stops of America also offer RV friendly overnight stopping
Knowing the signal for the
International Call for
Help may come in handy some day.
It is “beep, beep, beep in quick succession followed with a short
silence”. Turn all lights on especially flashing lights. Repeat
continuously till help arrives.
Getting away from the cold and snow is a pleasure but sometimes a
If you are a Canadian--exchange on each $200.00 US$
can translate to $300.00 Cdn
depending on the exchange.
You can stretch $$ by enjoying low-cost in-park
activities, hobbies and functions.
Living or travelling in an RV is fun. You can ‘shop
till you drop’ and leave the store empty handed because you have no
space to store stuff. Do not overload.
Enjoying meals in neat out of the way eateries
AT LUNCH adds adventure to any getaway.
in fancy restaurants can be economical adventures plus there is no need
to dress up. Shorts are acceptable
in even the fanciest of restaurants in sun country. Many
full-course ‘Early Bird’ specials (at 4 PM) offer yet another big savings.
If you can only get away for a short period consider travelling
in the fringe season months of November and April. Weather is good,
tourists have gone home and locals want you around so frequently prices
Learn to give each other
haircuts -- especially
if you are retired and you live a relaxed lifestyle.
The difference between a good and bad cut is about 3 days.
Join several ‘Discount Camping Clubs’.
For less than a $100.00 US$ annually you can camp at many resorts
for 1/2 price and at others for $10.00 US$ per night. By stretching camping dollars frees
up extra funds for other things such as meals out and tours and overall
Many parks offer one night free if you stay a
week---the more months you spend in one spot the lower the monthly rate
Welcome Centers frequently have discount coupon
books available behind the counter. However in most cases you must ask
The above hints are only a few
of the many suggestions covered in my first full-length publication Spirit
of the Open Road. And now more recently RV
Living in the 21st Century.