This tiny house retreat helped me unplug and reconnect with what matters most

Getaway's tiny cabins are located outside of major metropolitan areas and offer a minimalist escape from city life—with a strict no-WiFi policy

Our Getaway tiny house in the woods. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram and come across a photo of someone doing a complicated acroyoga pose in front of a huge glass window in a tiny wooden box in the woods, chances are it was taken at Getaway. The modern cabin rental company, founded in 2015 and featured in season eight of Shark Tank in 2017, now has more than a dozen locations around the country.

Getaway’s founder, Jon Staff, grew up in rural Minnesota and most of his childhood was spent outdoors. After working at a tech startup, he found himself burned-out and longing for nature. He quit his job and hit the road in a 26-foot Airstream trailer to take time to reflect. During this trip, Staff had an epiphany, realizing that being in nature was essential to his well-being, productivity, and happiness. Today, Getaway invites guests to cherish their free time, find balance through disconnection, and reconnect with those who matter most.

Guests drive about 2 hours from a metropolitan city (including New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles), place their phone in a dedicated in-room box, and spend a few days enjoying the solitude of nature.

A small box-like black cabin in the woods.
Tiny house accommodations at Getaway. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

Intentional minimalism

As soon as I arrive at Getaway’s North Carolina location, I realize I won’t be as alone as I had anticipated. I drive past a family sitting in Adirondack chairs around a campfire as I search for my designated wooden box. Around the corner, a couple is making lunch at their picnic table while their dog is attached to an incredibly long leash.

The cabins are spread throughout 31 acres of land, but I can still hear the faint chatter of my neighbors. Each guest has their own personal plot of land equipped with the same items: a picnic bench, a few chairs, a dog leash, a fire pit, a cooking grate, and beautiful views.

A woman and a dog sitting on a bed in a tiny house looking out at a forest
Looking out at the scenery. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

I try to pull up an email that lists my cabin number and discover that I have lost cellular service somewhere between the entrance and the drive through the outpost. It’s ok—Getaway preps guests with what to expect, guidelines, and additional details before arrival, and I come prepared with screenshots (the campground map is especially helpful).

My accommodations are definitely tiny, but the ceiling inconspicuously heightens toward the window, so it feels more spacious than it is. Although there is electricity, the gigantic window and light pine interior keep the space bright. Good lighting is important for those Instagram shots, but you’ll have to wait to post your photos—Getaway stays true to its minimalist word, with a strict no-WiFi or TV policy (the cabins do have air conditioning, heat, electricity, and running water, but cell service is spotty or nonexistent).

The small space also comes with a dining table and a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom. In the two-person cabins, one queen bed has up-close views of the forest. In the four-person cabins (the maximum number of people allowed), two queen beds are stacked, bunk-bed style, for fun summer camp vibes. 

Kitchen inside a tiny house in the woods.
Our tiny house kitchen. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza
A s'mores kit and retreat guide.
Getaway’s guide and welcome materials. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

Recharging

I’m excited to have unscheduled, unstructured, and uninterrupted free time with my dad and dog, Theodore. I cherish the break from routine and technology. I not only need to reconnect with those I was traveling with, but also with myself, my soul, and my mind. I need to be inspired and motivated again.

I set out to explore our tiny habitat (it doesn’t take long). I organize our belongings to maximize the space and we set out on a nature walk. Getaway provides all guests with suggestions for several nearby activities, including walking or hiking trails and wineries. We pass the other cabins and see a group of teenagers playing games, an older couple sipping tea by a fire, and a young family of four with two dogs.

Tiny houses at near the shore of a lake.
Scenic water views at Getaway. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

The evenings at Getaway are even more magical. Once the sun sets, my dad starts a fire. The three of us gather around the flames, two of us reading under the stars while Theodore makes use of his long leash. I look up from my book and see hundreds of shining stars. For dinner, we cook food wrapped in foil on a grate over wood that we foraged from the forest bed. We eat at the picnic table and devour dessert thanks to Getaway’s complimentary s’mores kit. We go to sleep early, full, and happy.

What really matters

In the morning, we boil tea and whip up eggs over the electric stove. I take Theodore out for a walk along the nearby stream while my dad plays Sudoku. A rainstorm on the second day of our stay gives us even more reason to slow down and marvel at the natural world around us. We take shelter in our cabin, play card games, and peruse the mini collection of books provided for us. The mesmerizing window—an entire wall of the wooden box—gives us front row seats to our own private nature show.

Man and tiny dog sitting near a campfire outside of the Getaway house.
Making a fire outside our tiny house. | Photo: Latifah Al-Hazza

To fully enjoy Getaway, guests are encouraged to embrace the disconnection. After just two days off the grid—surrounded by nature, cooking meals over a fire pit with two of the most important figures in my life—it’s not hard for me to realize what matters, or doesn’t matter, most in life. And I know I won’t find it on my Instagram feed.

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