Monday, April 25, 2016


I just got back from a long getaway weekend. The getaway was with my sister, and we got away to upstate NY to visit her daughter, who is in college there. We stayed in a comfy old house that used to be a B&B until they decided not to offer the second B. Fine by us. Any town with a lot of colIege kids is going to have a number of places where you can get a pretty good breakfast.

I will probably have some sort of “real” getaway vacation this year, but this is it for now.

Or so I was thinking until I got home and saw an article on Bloomberg on Getaway, a young Boston-based company that has a novel vacation concept, one that is based on one of my favorite things: the tiny house.

Somewhere, in rural locations outside of Boston, there are three 160-square foot houses just a couple of hours away. (In June, there’ll be Getaway cabins for NYC as well.) For $99 a night, you get a tiny house getaway.

Hook Number One is that there’s nothing to do once you get to your tiny house except commune with yourself, nature, and whatever companion you’ve brought along (included a 4-legged one for an extra $15). There’s no wifi or TV, and only spotty  cell phone service. For emergencies there’s a landline. Needless to say, there’s no room service, but the tiny houses are stocked with provisions (like pasta and pasta sauce, beef jerky, s’mores mix) that you can buy on the honor system.

The toilets run out of space after 15 flushes, so if you’re there with a full house – some cabins sleep up to 4 – you probably don’t want to spend more than a night there, enjoying life in the woods. Unless you’re happy with enjoying life in the woods the old-fashioned slit-trench and poison ivy way.

Hook Number Two: you don’t learn the secret location until 24-48 hours before your reservation time. All you know is that public transportation and a small town won’t be that far away, and that you’re in for a “stripped-down adventure.”

Which, as it turns out, a lot of people are interested in being in for. The Boston houses are fully booked through July, and Saturday nights are booked up until December.

“I like to call it the anti-vacation,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Staff, who launched Getaway with his friend Pete Davis, a first-year student at Harvard Law School.

For the past half-century, the American vacation model was to spend a small fortune to fly to a faraway place to which the vacationers would likely never go back, said Staff, 28, who is completing an MBA at Harvard Business School. “You’re probably only going to go there once, so you feel incredible pressure to do lots of things." Now that Americans work longer hours and spend their nights and weekends chained to handheld devices, there’s less call for capital-V "Vacations" and more for basic respite, he said.(Source: Bloomberg)

“Basic respite” aside, Getaway is also used by those who want to see just what tiny house living is like before deciding to go minimalist, forsaking his and her sinks, walk-in closets, and things like privacy, to own a tiny home of their own. Which is why I’d be tempted to try one out.

Not that I’m ever going to have a tiny house. I’m too much of a city girl for that. Where would you plunk a tiny house in downtown Boston?

But, in truth, much as I’d like to a Getaway anti-vacation, I’m also too much of a city girl to be comfortable out in the sticks where I couldn’t see any other human habitation. I don’t care if I’m just a jog away from public transportation and small town whatever. Being in a cabin in the woods would creep me out, unless I took the full house option (plus dog), so that there would be enough of us to have at least two night watchmen/women on duty.

Cities don’t scare me, but the little house in the big woods sure does.

Many years ago – in a time before mobile phones – my sisters and I rented a house on a lake outside Worcester, and we rotated in and out with friends and family, so that at any given time, there were at least two of us there overnight.

Other than the fact that the walls to the bathroom didn’t extend all the way up, making it a bit difficult to achieve any privacy, the place was quite nice.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that there was no one around, and, come nightfall, the surrounds were pitch black and scary. No landline, either. To make a call, you had to walk a couple of miles down a pitch black, winding, narrow, rutted dirt road, to the spot outside an auto body shop where there was a pay phone.

Oh, there was a house next door, but the owners were on vacation. They’d left their two dogs, Doberman pinschers named Rocky and Erica, behind. Someone came over to feed them during the day, but Rocky and Erica had the run of the place, thanks to a dog door that this duo made frequent use of throughout the night. The clatter made by their entrances and exits made it all but impossible for me to listen to what I really wanted to keep my ear out for, which was the arrival of an ax murderer with my name on his blade.

I guess in case of an emergency, one of us could have risked the wrath of Rocky and Erica and slithered in through the dog door to use the neighbors landline.

For me, this was an almost entirely sleepless vacation, other than the day time napping.

So much as I’d like to experience tiny house living and make my way to a getaway, I guess I’m just too much of a chicken. Not to mention that I’m just too much of a non-hipster, and thus am not the demo being targeted here.

Nonetheless, I think the idea is a fun one, and I wish the founders well. Maybe I’ll wait until next year, and book one for late June. I can check in at 3 p.m., enjoy tiny house living until 7:45 p.m., and make my way back to safety before dark.

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