Tiny House Giant Journey in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado
We traveled for an entire year in our customized Tumbleweed Cypress on an adventure we dubbed "Tiny House Giant Journey." We towed our tiny abode over 22,000 miles while visiting 34 US states and 5 Canadian provinces. We visited mountains, oceans, deserts and enchanted forests, and parked our tiny at campgrounds, breweries, farms, Wal-mart parking lots, rest stops and, sometimes, out in the middle of nowhere!
After a year of travel, we are currently relaxing in Colorado for the next 4-6 months. When I look back on the past year, I'm in awe of all the beautiful (and somewhat extreme) locations we visited on our Tiny House Giant Journey. I think we'll have to plan another trip next year!
TOP FIVE "TINY HOUSE GIANT JOURNEY" DESTINATIONS:
1). The Arctic Circle
We towed our tiny 200 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska, on the bumpy Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle. The midnight sun didn't set over Tiny House Giant Journey that evening, as we spent one night in the Arctic before heading back south. I couldn't help but wonder: Has a Tiny House RV ever been to this circle of latitude before? I like to think we were the first!
For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to the Arctic Circle, click here.
2). Florida Keys
While the Arctic Circle was the most northern latitude we visited on our Giant Journey, the most southern was achieved by driving the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys. While towing our Tiny House RV along this picturesque highway, which connects the key islands, we were completely surrounded by aqua-colored waters on both sides.
For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to the Florida Keys, click here.
3). Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level)
Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park actually rests 282 feet BELOW sea level! This was the deepest Tiny House Giant Journey has ever been, and currently we are parked at our highest elevation: 11,158 feet, in the Rocky Mountains. That's a big difference!
For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to Death Valley National Park, click here.
4). Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Eastern Canada blew us away with brilliant fall colors, mouth-watering lobster and delicious maple syrup. We fell in love with the lighthouses while visiting Nova Scotia, especially the iconic lighthouse located at Peggy's Cove just 40 miles south of Halifax.
For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to Nova Scotia, click here.
5). New York, NY
Navigating the streets of New York City with our Tiny House RV was the most challenging maneuvering we encountered on our year long road trip (and that's including the time we squeezed out of a narrow Los Angeles driveway and carefully maneuvered the twisty and steep backroads of the Smoky Mountains). Surprisingly, NYC locals weren't phased by our tiny rolling cabin, and we're used to a lot of rubbernecking. I guess they've seen it all!
For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to New York City, click here.
Are you concerned about maintaining your culinary passions in a Tiny House RV? Well, don't worry! Cooking in a tiny kitchen is the same as cooking in a large kitchen - you just need the right tools!
Tumbleweed offers full range and four burner stove tops (propane or electric) in all of their Tiny House RV designs. For more information on Tumbleweed kitchen options, click here. We've also written an informative article listing the Top Refrigerators of Tiny House RVs.
5 Tips When Designing a Tiny Kitchen for BIG Meals:
1). Go BIG on Your Counter Space. When designing a tiny kitchen that will be used for cooking BIG meals, make sure to allocate plenty of counter space for food prep. Folding countertops can provide additional space that can disappear when not in use. Remember that counter space is multi-functional, and can be used as a dinning space, work space or for organizing groceries.
2). Purchase Space-Saving Kitchen Tools. Purchase space-saving kitchen tools, such as multi-tools, that are storable. For example, this set of nesting bowls comes with up to nine pieces, but takes up the same amount of space as one large mixing bowl. Research other space-saving and multi-functional kitchen gadgets that will allow you to declutter your tiny kitchen without sacrificing essential tools for cooking big meals.
3). Go Compact with Appliances. If you're unable to combine appliances, try finding compact alternatives. Purchase a compact microwave instead of the regular or industrial size. After all, this appliance is not called a micro-wave to consume you're entire kitchen! Choose a compact rice maker, compact blender, compact coffee maker, etc. Check out this website for a full list of compact appliances.
4). Go Big on Your Kitchen Sink. Many tiny kitchen owners choose to install a small sink to save counter space, but if you're an avid chef, a small sink is not practical. Instead choose a large, deep sink (or double sink) and purchase a cutting board sink cover to expand your counter space. Install a retractable faucet so that you can clean dishes with more flexibility and fill pots with ease.
5). Choose Your BIG Meals with Your Tiny Kitchen in Mind. Challenge yourself and your culinary abilities by cooking BIG meals in a simple way. Create your own recipe book specifically geared towards your tiny kitchen. Check out Martha Stewart's "One Pot Cookbook" for ideas. Oh, and purchase the kindle version cookbook (space saver)!
Art Cormier has followed a winding path from police officer to rock wall gym owner to Tumbleweed workshop presenter and Tiny House RV educator. We first discovered Art after he posted a series of YouTube videos explaining his Tiny House RV construction using SIPs (structurally insulated panels).
Art completed his Tiny House RV in 2012 and is now parked in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is an avid climber, taking a month off every year to climb Yosemite. He's even been featured on David Letterman for his "stupid human trick" of traversing a chair.
You can watch the full tour of Art’s tiny here (and be sure to watch until the end for a surprise)
Art's Great Room with a Convertible Couch
A few facts about Art’s Tiny House RV:
117 square feet
Built on an 18 foot trailer
SIP (structurally insulated panel) construction which is extremely efficient and offers a high R-value
How can a tiny kitchen be so minimal yet so innovative? Art’s kitchen features a chest refrigerator - cleverly hidden under a cutting board. His countertops, sink and backsplash are made from one custom piece of stainless steel. Art keeps his shelving and storage to a minimum stating: “If you build it, you will fill it.”
Art’s Tiny Bathroom
A handmade Shoji-style door slides away to reveal Art’s tiny bathroom. The shoji door is lightweight, beautiful and allows for privacy while letting natural light shine through. The bathroom features a Nature’s Head composting toilet and a 32” x 32” fiberglass shower stall.
Art's Shoji-style Sliding Bathroom Door
Heating and Cooling
In Lafayette Louisiana, air conditioning is a necessity. Art’s Tiny House RV is equipped with a compact window unit air conditioner (he’s not even sure they make them that small anymore). In the winter, he heats his tiny with a plug-in space heater.
Art claims that in the dead of the winter (in Louisiana it gets down to the mid-20s), he pays less than $1 a day to heat his home. When you only have 117 square feet with a high R-value, and you’re located in the south, that’s enough!
If you want to read more about heating options for tiny spaces, click here. For off-grid heaters, click here.
My partner and I built our modified Tumbleweed Cypress from September 2013 - September 2014. Over the course of that year, we were lucky enough to receive dozens of discounted or fully sponsored materials from a variety of companies wanting to support the Tiny House Community. These wonderful companies saved us thousands of dollars on our build and, honestly, we couldn't have done it without them. Let me just say: THANK YOU to all of our sponsors. You rock!
HOW DO YOU ATTRACT SPONSORS?
Tip #1: FIND UNTAPPED RESOURCES
Since 2013, when I began reaching out to sponsors, the tiny house movement has increased drastically in popularity. I'm mentioning this because the popularity of the movement could work in your favor. Many companies are beginning to embrace the idea and even looking to market their products to the Tiny House RV community. Nowadays, there's a good chance marketing managers who keep up with social trends will actually be aware of the tiny house movement! That makes your pitch a whole lot easier!
On the other hand, due to recent popularity, many sponsors have been tapped. It's not a good idea to call companies that have already publicly sponsored another Tiny House RV. Why? Because that company is already invested in another project that is too similar to your own, you are better off approaching a company that isn't already invested. I would assume most of the popular RV appliance companies receive dozens of Tiny House RV sponsorship requests a week. Therefore, they have been "tapped."
Focus on small businesses, local companies and startups. These "untapped resources" will be more willing to sponsor your project. Search Etsy for handmade items and innovative products. Call local carpenters and construction companies that might donate old tools or unused materials. Theatre and film companies are great resources, as they have a multitude of sets that need to be torn down. Antique shops and collectors might be willing to donate a special item - for example, we made our staircase out of sponsored antique crates. Search kickstarter for innovative appliances and offer to promote them. Think bigger than RV specific products.
Tip #2: START SMALL
One of our first sponsors was Scrubba, a small company that makes a laundry wash bag for backpackers. The Scrubba retails at just $55, and even though that's a relatively small amount, we were ecstatic to receive the product! Sponsored products don't need to be big - you're building a Tiny House RV after all! Sometimes a partial sponsorship or discount is enough. Remember that it all adds up in the end.
After receiving your first sponsorship, you can use it as leverage for receiving more. When pitching your project to a new company, mention that you are also sponsored by BLANK, BLANK and BLANK. Before you know it, a few small sponsorships will lead to a big one!
Unless you're a non-profit or charity, companies are going to want to see a return for their investment. What skill can you provide in exchange for a sponsorship? My partner, Guillaume, is a professional photographer while my background is in filmmaking. We often offer media exposure or professional grade product photos in exchange for a sponsorship.
There are many different ways a sponsorship can be mutually beneficial for your project and your sponsor. Get creative, write a proposal and be open to suggestions.
Tip #4: HAVE YOUR PITCH READY & KEEP IT SHORT
When reaching out to potential sponsor, the first thing you'll do is call or email the marketing manager. I personally prefer email because I can send photos of my project, a link to all social media and explain the skill I'm offering in exchange for a sponsorship.
Practice your pitch with friends or family and keep it concise. Get to the point quickly and do your best to sound calm and collected. Be prepare, but don't worry if it doesn't go smoothly the first time around. You can always perfect your pitch before reaching out to the next potential sponsor.
As a rule, try not to call a company at the end of the work day or around lunch time - they might be in a hurry to get off the phone. I've found that mid-morning on Monday or Tuesday is the best time to reach out to potential sponsors.
For more information on how to pitch your project to sponsors, check our Andrew Odom's book "Your Message Here" which includes templates for email requests, traditional letters, and even cold calls.
If you've promised to do something in exchange for a sponsorship -- do it! And, as a rule, never agree to give a product a good review before you've tested it. If you don't like it, you may not want to promote it!
It's better to be honest when asking for a sponsored product. Try this: "If I like your product I'll give it a good review on my website and promote it on social media. If after trying the product, I realize it doesn't fit my lifestyle, I'll return it."
Tip #5: DON'T GET DISCOURAGED
Don't be afraid to ask for a sponsorship, and don't be discouraged when you are told "no." If a marketing manager is not responding to your request, accept that they aren't interested. Do not overwhelm them with follow up emails and requests. When faced with rejection, always be courteous, accept feedback and try again elsewhere.
In this article we'll focus on the following items to consider before towing your Tiny House RV: Weight, Low Clearances, & Road Conditions.
Before hitting the road with your Tiny House RV, you'll need to purchase or rent a truck that can handle the weight of your trailer. You can figure out the weight your Tiny House RV by taking it to a truck scale. If you built using Tumbleweed plans, and used the same materials specified in the materials list, you can estimate your weight using the graph below.
Typical Tumbleweed Weight Specifications:
It's also important to know the tongue weight of your Tiny House RV, as this can affect the tow vehicle you need to purchase. You can calculate your tongue weight by purchasing a tongue scale (or try this virtually free version). As a rule, your tongue weight should be 10-15% of your total weight of your trailer.
To improve your overall control, and to reduce stress on your tow vehicle, you might want to consider purchasing a weight distribution system.
The below graph is helpful when deciding which tow vehicle to purchase based on the weight and tongue weight of your Tiny House RV.
Minimum Tow Vehicle Requirements:
In the United States, every state has a specific height restriction for vehicles. In order to stay within the legal limits, you should research the state (or states) which you plan to travel with your Tiny House RV. Most legal limits are between 13' 6" and 14.' All Tumbleweed plans call for construction height of no more than 13'4."
Federal requirements state: "on Interstate routes, the clearance height shall not be less than 14 feet." Therefore, Tiny House RVs should have no problem with low clearances on major interstates. That being said, there are many rural bridges lower than 13'6" all over the country. It is important to plan ahead when traveling. Read signage carefully, stay on major roads and avoid historic districts.
It is a good idea to purchase a RV GPS which will navigate you around low clearances. Watch for low hanging wires and tree branches when traveling through neighborhoods, especially at night.
Urban neighborhoods tend to have narrow streets and tight turns, which can be difficult to navigate with a tow vehicle. When in doubt, it's best to avoid any routes that would not be accessible to a semi-truck. Having a passenger that can get out an spot for you is also helpful.
As with any vehicle, rough roads can damage your Tiny House RV. Plan ahead and avoid gravel or loose dirt roads when possible. It's a good idea to protect the windows on the tongue side of your Tiny House RV. Rocks can crack or damage your windows, so attached plywood or shutters for protection during travel.
Stay within your comfort level. If you are not comfortable towing your Tiny House RV in snow, rain or ice, don't do it. Watch the weather reports for your current and upcoming destinations and plan ahead. If you find yourself caught in bad weather, drive slow or pull over until it passes. It's always better to be extra cautious with your tow load, not only for yourself, but also for the other vehicles on the road.
Check back soon for a follow up article with more towing considerations.