Seniors & Aging: Matt Del Vecchio: Calling all snowbirds. What to do this winter?

Many snowbirds are choosing to stay in Canada this winter as COVID has derailed plans for the traditional annual trip down south. Health risks, insurance coverage and differing attitudes in the U.S. concerning the pandemic are just some of the major reasons snowbirds have decided to hunker down on Canadian soil this year.

It is not ideal and certainly frustrating for many. However, it will be reality for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Some snowbirds are taking it in stride. Others have their concerns, including those that jokingly (kind of) complained that their spouse is going to drive them crazy. Ah, the joy of being cooped up all winter. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your sanity and maybe, just maybe, you might enjoy your winter at home.

Stay active

Consider regular walks as part of your daily routine. Your best investment this winter will be a set of crampons, those traction devices you pull over your boots. Besides the physical benefits, there are proven mental health benefits as well. No, it won’t be the feeling of sand between your toes. However, the sound of crisp snow with each footstep may be a sound you can enjoy — for at least this winter.

Virtual workouts such as yoga classes and light aerobic activity are also becoming popular. Treadmills and stationary bikes are another good option however inventory levels at stores across North America are extremely low.

Embrace technology

Many of us are enjoying the benefits of video conferencing. Others are perhaps still technically challenged. Get your children or your grandchildren to set you up. Video conferencing is here to stay. Some have even commented that they are seeing their grandchildren more than ever. Far beyond video conferencing, there are plenty of useful apps ranging from brain games, e-books, music, sports, medical, museum tours around the world and many more.


Volunteers are still in high demand. In fact, many organizations scramble for volunteers during the winter months because of the exodus of snowbirds.

Take up a hobby

Try something new such as baking, cooking or canning. Consider joining a book club. How about creative writing, poetry, computer classes, arts and crafts, learning an instrument, puzzles, photography, or genealogy? Another trendy hobby is creating a memoir / legacy book or video to pass on to future generations.

Mini vacations

I talked to a few snowbirds that simply cannot fathom the idea of staying in their home the entire winter. Some are making plans for a Quebec holiday. Others are booking a trip to a Caribbean island for a week or two. It might be a nice way to break up the winter. However, it may be difficult to find a chalet in the Laurentians or Eastern Townships as many have already been booked.

As far as travel down south goes, be sure to do your homework as some islands are doing much better than others with regards to the pandemic. You will also want to look into insurance coverage, COVID negative tests prior to a flight, cancellation policies, quarantine guidelines, etc. It is recommended to book your trip through a travel agent these days so they can provide you with proper guidance during these tumultuous times.

Let’s try to embrace this winter and make the best of it.

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging and founder of Lianas Senior Transition Support helping families with their life transitions. He is also the co-host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800. For more, email him at

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