Survey found many adults over 55 are still planning to migrate south for the winter
The seasonal travelers who migrate south to warmer climates known as winter visitors, or more commonly snowbirds, fall into the age category of those who may be more vulnerable to the coronavirus. However, despite the risk, a recent 55places.com survey, sent to people who typically consider themselves as snowbirds, found that 74% of adults age 55 and older are still planning to move forward with their migration plans this year.
The survey, which asked 1,099 participants about their winter travel plans, was conducted to see if the pandemic is affecting decisions. The short answer is yes. Of those surveyed, 58% responded that the coronavirus played a role in their decision, and even caused some people to reconsider their plans altogether.
Out of the respondents, 62% reported migrating in 2019, but 75% plan to migrate south this winter, indicating by the responses that more people intend to snowbird this year. For those who are traveling, the majority of participants (70%) plan to take extra precautions by tracking state and city guidelines of their destination and adjusting plans accordingly; while 4% are making other transportation accommodations, adjusting their route, and modifying the timeline of their trip. Although some snowbirds (26%) are planning their trip as usual, for many people, these unprecedented times call for additional planning and preparation.
"The appeal of migrating goes beyond weather; snowbirds flock to places where their quality of life improves, often in a community that offers an active lifestyle, where social networks can be enhanced," said Cameron Munro, regional sales manager for 55places.com. "That couldn't be more true this year. If anything, the disruption and challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic have increased the desire for more sunshine, more space, and more opportunities for happiness."
For the 25% of participants who are not planning to migrate this year, there's a myriad of reasons affecting the decision. More than half (51%), responded that they've reconsidered their plans due to COVID-19, while some (8%) are facing financial restrictions, want to stay closer to family and friends (8%), or are planning a different type of trip (1%). For 14%, the aforementioned options did not apply, but fell into the categories of health issues, not being able to travel due to work, or having already relocated to a warmer climate as reasons to why they're not migrating. Separately, 18% did not consider themselves annual snowbirds and are not planning to travel this year.
"Many winter visitors––especially those who rent––rely on the benefits of traveling to their secondary residence, like Florida's low cost of living, for example," added Munro. "While many have already made their decision, we may also see traveling habits shift later in the season if restrictions lift and state travel regulations change."
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