Recently, I went down to Florida for a long weekend to visit my big sister in Lakeland. I am unfortunately very much allergic to her cat, Gibbs, and have to stay elsewhere when I visit her. As I searched possible options, a listing on Airbnb for a tiny house caught my eye.
It was located in an RV park only a short drive from my sister’s apartment, and the price was incredibly reasonable. It is important to know that my mom would also be joining me for this trip and the tiny house experience. When we arrived, we noted that we were in a small semi-circle of tiny houses that all appeared to be rentals. In fact, the person that owned the tiny house (and the one next door) was never on-site, and we met a property manager instead.
None of this is a problem at all, but it is worth noting. Even though she was not physically there, the owner was quick to respond to any questions we had, and as I said, there was a property manager that was in the RV park should any other needs arise. It does make for a less “homey” feeling tiny house, though, seeing as there aren’t any personal touches in the house.
My first tip for making a go of tiny house vacations? Focus on the key word: tiny. I know, you’re thinking, “No kidding!” but I mean it. In every step of your planning and executing your vacation, keep in mind the small spaces. Our tiny house was spacious and came with a pretty normal sized bathroom. The only “small” thing I noticed was the shallow sink which of course splashed up if you turned the water too high. My mistake, because I wasn’t thinking tiny 😉
Our Florida retreat had an apartment sized refrigerator/freezer, an oven, and a microwave. The space under the sink was utilized as storage for all kitchenware and cookware. There was in the floor storage, and the space under the stairway fit my carry-on suitcase perfectly. Note: I said carry-on suitcase. As we found, when you have multiple people and multiple suitcases, that’s when it can get crowded. My bag stowed away, but my mom’s were left to take up our living space.
Tip #2: Pack light! This really is an extension of my first tip, but it’s worth standing on its own. When you know your space is limited and you’re traveling with other people, it’s best to pack as light as possible. Another great idea would be to consolidate into just one bag between the two of you if possible. Things like compression storage bags would come in handy here! The key will be in minimalist wardrobes and smart storage techniques.
Several years ago, I went to Europe for just over 3 weeks, and packed everything I needed into one standard suitcase. I had no access to laundry facilities for the first half of the trip, had to bring multiple pairs of shoes, and dressier clothes. I also had to bring my choir robe, which to this day I am still proud of getting that to fit into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Long before I knew about actual packing cubes and compression style packing techniques, I rolled, shoved, and folded every piece of clothing into Ziploc bags and sat on them to squeeze the air out. 😉
Tip #3: Plan Your Meals and I don’t just mean what to eat. While the weather was nice, and our rental had a picnic table for our use, we had one night where the lack of space really made for cramped meal time. Most of our meals were out so we didn’t use the kitchen, and the one meal we ate in was later at night, so the picnic table wasn’t the most practical option. If you have a thought of hanging out inside and eating pizza, the lack of space will become an issue. We had two folding chairs, and the bench style twin bed on the main floor for seating, but no table to speak of which made eating a bit awkward. Some sort of a collapsible/fold down style table surface would be great. Or, at the very least, a TV tray. Obviously, the ideal meal location would be outside, and this is our own fault for poor planning, but it’s still a reminder that if you’re big on eating indoors in front of the TV, you might want to rethink that in a tiny house situation. If you were to cook your own meals, prep space would also be an issue. I’d be intrigued to see how one lives in a tiny house full time, how they adjust their cooking and daily routines to best utilize their (lack of) space.
Overall, I enjoyed my tiny house experience and would recommend it to others on the condition that you know what you’re getting into and this still sounds appealing. Much like camping, backpacking, and staying in hostels, not everyone will enjoy this type of vacation rental, but others will absolutely love it. It would also make a great learning experience if you have any notion of building one for yourself! I’m including some resources at the bottom of this post, first of which is a link to the tiny house we stayed in, as well as the tiny house next door which was owned by the same person and looked just as cute! In addition, I’ve added some links to websites that have tiny houses for rent (short and long term). Rounding it out is an article by one of my favorite travel resources that goes in depth on packing cubes. I’ve been a follower of Her Packing List for a few years now and they’re my number one go to for all questions related to travel, packing, backpacking, and all the gear that goes with it. Hope this helps, and if you have your own tiny house experience or advice, I’d love to hear it!