Introducing the new Snowbird travel trend

Is there anything more predictable than a septuagenarian New Yorker who decamps to Florida For winter? Imagine: they bear a striking resemblance to Helen Roper walking around in her signature kaftan and participating in activities like water aerobics, chatting about neighbors and discussing the weather. Now take all you think you know snowbirds and throw it out the window.

There is a new herd flying south; maybe we’ll call them baby snowbirds. Often in their 30s or 40s, these baby birds seek respite from winter in warm places like Miami, New Orleans and Palm Springs. The breed consists mostly of young and mid-career professionals looking for more meaning and excitement after enduring the life change wrought by a global pandemic.

I’m part of that demographic, and I get it. In fact, I became a baby snowbird before it was fashionable, marking the first time I got ahead of a trend (even if it was accidental).

While interning at a magazine in 2013, I came across the term New-New, used to describe someone who lives in both New York City and New Orleans (my two favorite cities, coincidentally). I knew then that instead of aspiring to own a sprawling home in the suburbs, I wanted to retire in two places with opposite climates. My husband and I, both in our early 40s, experimented with this lifestyle before the pandemic and recently became full-fledged baby snowbirds — or, more specifically, news. Last year, we even dipped our toes into international territory, escaping to the peaceful riverside town of Ospedaletti, Italy.

Artwork by Michael Iver Jacobsen

For us, the pandemic has presented a new way of thinking: life is short – why wait until retirement to live the most meaningful life? (Or in millennial parlance, YOLO.) This global event was also the catalyst for redefining the world of work, nearly doubling the number of people working from home. And honestly, if you can do your job without the commute and water cooler chatter why should it matter if you hook up to a Zoom call from Portland or Portugal? Hence this growth Trip trend that is no longer reserved for seniors with large bank accounts.

Put it down to generational differences — or similarities, depending on how you see it. University of Texas, Austin psychology teacher Art Markman It boils down to this: young and middle-aged adults are finding a way to live full lives while still being able to put in a full day’s work. And these days, it’s easier than ever to achieve. As he explains, “this generation is waiting to get married and delaying (or withdrawing completely) from starting a family. As a result, there is a generation of people with more disposable income and fewer major commitments. Add to that the ease of finding rentals through companies like Airbnband you have the perfect recipe for leaving town when the weather turns bad.

But for the baby birds, it is not enough to escape the cold to spend the month of December in vacation clothes. This is a demographic that prioritizes experiences over things, choosing to spend their money on Coachella instead of a car. It is this sensitivity to live in the moment and not the supposed stability of the American dream of yesteryear that makes them happy. The pursuit of these ideals is so 2000s.

So, is a permanent address a thing of the past or is this new snowbird phenomenon just a passing fad? We’re calling it now: Unless we’re somehow transplanted into a traditional work environment (which seems next to impossible at this point), baby snowbird isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That is, until it’s time to head south for the winter.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

Comments are closed.