Getaway’s tiny houses coax city-dwelling millennials into the great outdoors
There’s a growing tiny house company that’s successfully luring city folk out of their comfort zone and into nature.
It started as an idea of two college buds, Pete Davis and John Staff. They built a fully furnished, tiny cabin two hours outside of Boston. They advertised the space to city folk looking to wade into the great outdoors without having to worry about all the gear—or even breaking a sweat.
Guests didn’t even need to formally check in. They could book the cabin online and, just a few days before their stay, they received directions to the cabin in their inbox and a personalized entry code to punch into the cabin keypad. And bonus, the cabin included a lock box where guests could keep their smart phones safe, yet out of reach.
That spark of an idea caught fire, and Getaway was born.
“We created Getaway to give people time, space, and permission to be off,” the company’s founder say on the Getaway website. “Our tiny cabins in nature provide a break from the city, technology, and work, so that you can recharge and reconnect to who and what matters most.”
Test-drive tiny house living
Davis wrote on his blog a few months after the company’s launch in 2015 that he sees the Getaway model as a chance for people to test-drive tiny house living.
“We are hoping it can help expand the tiny house movement and encourage simple living,” he wrote.
He notes that tiny houses leave a smaller carbon footprint and they’re affordable. “Tiny houses are an opportunity personally for people to find out what’s really important and what makes them happy. I think that has a lot more to do with how you spend your time and a lot less to do with the stuff you own.”
Whether visitors of Getaway’s tiny cabins are inspired by the tiny home movement or simply a chance to live in nature for a few days, the company’s model is working.
What started with just one, specially designed tiny cabin has expanded to a few hundred cabins throughout the nation.
Getaway now includes nine outposts, all of which are a fairly easy drive from major cities. The current hubs are: Atlanta, Austin/San Antonio, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh/Cleveland, Portland and Washington, DC.
How Getaway’s tiny houses work
Getaway employs builders who construct tiny cabins from hand. The cabins are built on trailers, so they’re easily mobile. Each is powered by solar electricity and comes complete with propane heat and a composting toilet.
“So our tiny cabins are completely off the grid,” Davis said.
The cabins are also equipped with air conditioning, a kitchen with a mini-refrigerator and stove. Outside each cabin sits a fire pit, grilling grate, picnic table and chairs.
Guests can bring their own ingredients to cook or they can purchase provisions on site, with both vegan and gluten-free options. Cabins are dog friendly, and Getaway provides dog bowls, treats, a waste bag and an outdoor lead.
And, just to illustrate the company has heart, each cabin is named after a grandparent of a Getaway staff member or guest.
A photographer’s playground
Nesrin Danan said a recent two-night stay at Getaway’s outpost near Portland was just what she and her friends needed to recharge. She loved that it felt like she was a world away from the city and the demands of daily life.
“You’re definitely in the middle of the wilderness. You’re really out there,” she says. “As a photographer, I’m always looking for new opportunities to take photos and this was perfect.”
Danan and her friends played board games, listened to the AM/FM radio—which is included in each cabin—went on a couple of hikes, and, of course, took photos. Her group didn’t take advantage of the cabin’s phone lock box because they wanted their phones handy for photos. But there was no cell service. Hence they had plenty of opportunity to just be together without any digital distractions.
“It was honestly nice to just sit around and have a chance to talk and bond,” Danan said. “I don’t have a ton of free time. So to plan a tiny house trip, reserve a spot and pitch a tent, I just probably wouldn’t ever do it. But I love the idea of just showing up and enjoying nature.”
The cabins’ rural locations—and the unique design of the structures themselves—deliver views begging to be shared on Instagram, and a tiny house sensibility that’s becoming increasingly popular. See for yourself at #GetawayOften.
The tiny house extras
Getaway seems to think of what guests want before they know they want it. The company offers several tiny house extras that shows its team goes above and beyond for their guests.
For one, they’re especially supportive of artists. Getaway invites creatives to apply for one of their artist fellowships. These programs provide a free weekday stay—one night and two days—in one of their tiny cabins. The fellowships are open to any creatives, from authors and painters to chefs and designers.
Some artists see it as a chance to get away from their work and recharge, while others see it as the perfect location to create without distraction.
As illustrator Christina Chun said after her tiny house stay, “At Getaway, I took my time cooking over white-hot embers, slept without an alarm, woke up to the best view of fall foliage, and read to my heart’s content.”
The company’s website also offers tips for exploring the area around each of its outposts and keeps up a blog, with regular posts from CEO John Staff.
Staff’s most recent post captures the company’s mission to nudge people to disconnect and refocus their lives on what matters most. He notes that this year, a leap year, each of us have been gifted 3.6% extra time.
So he asks, “What are you doing with this extra time? If you’re spending it grinding through the usual stuff, do you owe it to yourself to make up for that sometime soon? As for me, I’m squeezing in a quick weekend road trip. Hope to see you out there?”
Tiny house rentals start at $99 a night for two people; visit Getaway for more.
Journalist and author Danielle Nadler grew up in South Dakota, where a patient writing teacher fostered in her a love for stories told well. She's worked for newspapers in the Midwest, on the West Coast and the East Coast, and recently launched a storytelling company called Tales and Ales.