Getting the car to your snowbird destination

By James Dolan | January 2, 2015 | Last updated on January 2, 2015
3 min read

Driving down to your snowbird destination can be an interesting way to see more of the world. But after you’ve done it once or twice, it becomes less of a journey and more of a chore. To say nothing of the added wear and tear on your vehicle.

Fortunately, there are options. If you like the idea of having your car at your beck and call, but have no interest in driving it down yourself, consider the following:

Hiring a driver

The most obvious way of getting a car to your destination is to hire somebody to drive it for you. This can be an excellent option if you don’t have a lot of lead time before you want to ship your car, or if your destination is a little out of the way from a major transportation hub.

Many companies specialize in this service; generally offering to pick up your vehicle from your home, and deliver it to your door at your winter destination — or the airport if you’re flying in. You’ll want to choose one that has a long track record and specific experience in servicing snowbirds. Make sure to ask about their rules for transporting things in your vehicle while driving. Some companies say you can only put stuff in your trunk, while others let you stuff your vehicle like a moving van.

Costs depend on exactly where you’re going. Most companies offer quick and easy online quoting, so shop around. As a general rule, expect to pay a little under $1,000 for a trip from the GTA to Florida, including fuel costs. A three-day delivery time is fairly typical.

Shipping your car

Another option is to ship your car by transporter truck. All you have to do is fill out some paperwork, drop the car off (some companies will pick it up for you), and that’s about it.

Your vehicle will be loaded onto a transport carrier (the same kind used to transport new cars), or in a closed container trailer (which typically costs a little more) and then transport it to the company’s terminal at your destination. The big benefit: you’ll avoid the wear and tear that comes from actually driving your vehicle.

Timing is a little longer than hiring a driver — expect delivery to take about a week, although some companies require more lead-time. You’ll also want to make arrangements well in advance of your desired transport time, as things tend to book up around the same times each year. Again, pricing is based on the exact distance. Larger vehicles (trucks and SUVs) will cost more.

The Auto Train

If you’re travelling to Florida, the Amtrak Auto Train may be a viable option. Departing from Lorton, Virginia (about a half-hour south of Washington DC), the trip takes about 18 hours (allow an extra hour on either side for loading/unloading), and drops you off in Sanford, Florida (near Orlando). Meals are included, and you can even get a sleeping compartment if you want to.

The big benefit of the auto train is you can pack your car to the gills. Costs are also a little cheaper than hiring a driver or a truck — between $400 and $850 dollars, depending on time of the year, and whether or not you purchase a sleeper.

James Dolan