5 Tips for Tiny House Travel

5 Tips for Tiny House Travel

Our modified Tumbleweed Cypress has rolled all the way from Los Angeles to Nova Scotia to Florida, where I’m currently writing this blog post. In the four months and 8,500 miles I’ve traveled with a tiny home, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. Below is a short list of tiny house travel tips that I hope will be helpful to future tiny house travelers.

tiny house travel

5 Tips for Tiny House Travel

1). You can weigh your tiny home at any truck scale

The best way is to weigh the tiny house with your truck attached, then park, detach, weigh your truck alone and subtract that weight from the total. It’s important to know your weight and to have a tow vehicle that can handle the load. It is especially important to be aware of your tongue weight, which can be found by purchasing a tongue scale. Many tiny homes have a heavy tongue weight because of the loft. You can counter balance your tongue weight by placing some of your heavier items in the back of the trailer (like water tanks or solar batteries). You can also use a weight distribution system, like we do.

2). Call campgrounds ahead of time

I call ahead and tell the campground that I have a 24 foot travel trailer (that’s including the tongue) that requires 30 amp electrical, water and (if I know my 15 gallon water tank will not be sufficient) a sewage drain for grey water. If they ask for the brand of the travel trailer, I tell them it’s a “Tumbleweed tiny house, you know… like on Tiny House Nation?” And that usually rings a bell. No campground has EVER turned us down. In fact,click here for a list of campgrounds that we’ve stayed at.

THGJ Everglades Flamingo - 0003

Tiny House Gj in the Florida Everglades at Flamingo RV Park

3). Attach bubble levels to your tiny house

We have one on the back center of my house (for left/right leveling) and one on the side (for front/back leveling). We use Anderson levelers for left/right leveling and we LOVE them. With these levelers, we can raise one side of our house up to four inches simply by driving onto them! If we need more than that, Guillaume will pull one side of our tiny house up onto planks of wood, and then use the levelers. For front/back leveling, we use the tongue jack. Never use the scissor jacks for leveling; They are for stability only.

4). Get an RV GPS

I use a Rand McNally RV GPS to navigate around low clearances, weight restrictions, propane restrictions, etc. It’s excellent and it is worth its weight in gold for my peace of mind.

tiny house travel

Tiny House GJ driving in New York towards Canada

5). Secure Loose Items

Add a lip to your shelves and hook & eyes to your drawers. Using a bungie cord works as well, but if every shelf and drawer requires a bungie, you’ll die of tedium. The less “lock and loading” the better. It takes us about 20 minutes to secure everything inside the house and another 20 minutes to pack up the outside. Usually I handle the inside while Guillaume handles the outside, so we cut our time in half. We’ve got it down to a science, but we’re also always improving.

Here’s to another 8,500 miles!

Any tiny house travel experts want to share some tips? Comment below!

* This article was originally published on Tumbleweedhouses.com

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49 Comments

  1. Leigh Jackson
    November 18, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Have you considered posting a map of the places you stopped along your journey. More specifically the RV parks, National Parks, and other places that welcomed you. Maybe your rout so others will know a safe path to travel the road that allows the height of tiny houses to pass freely.

  2. lehua
    April 12, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    Which of the three trailers did you use, the Utility, the Low-Wider, or Deckover?

    • lehua
      April 12, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      Sorry, could you remove my full name from that question, please! This is my first comment to anything like this and I didn’t realize it was going to be published like that. You may use my first name, Lehua.

  3. Maciek
    April 12, 2016 / 10:48 am

    Hi folks! I`m from Poland in Europe and new to tiny house community. I do understand almost everything how the tiny house works,apart from one thing. Where do you keep fresh tank water and one for a grey water. How often do you have to empty it. Love them vids on youtube. Cheers.

  4. Mary
    January 3, 2016 / 12:14 pm

    Being twice as heavy and per sf, that’s pretty equivalent to ours. There is a gross combined vehicle weight (GCVW) that salespeople and people in general aren’t aware of, which is the total weight acceptable adding tow vehicle and, for want of a better term, trailer weights. It’s a safety issue. We travel with limited fresh water as a full tank weighs 800#s. I did a weight estimate before deciding on a rig, including full fuel tanks and 400 lbs. for Mike, me, and the two dogs, and future belongings in the house.

    When we got weighed (finally) we were 500 lbs over. We only travel in this rig twice a year now, 1,600 miles total. And we are constantly getting rid of unused belongings. It’s amazing how much stuff weights add up. Still, it’s kind of liberating.

    We had a 2003 Ford dually with the same problem. We bought it “used” with 15,000 miles on it, so no new buyer warranty. It was beautiful. It eventually cost us an additional $18,000. We feel your pain.

    It is amazing how much effort goes into downsizing decisions and how hind-sight results in so many forehead slaps.

  5. Mary McLaughlin
    January 2, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    We installed solar in our 300 sf home (RV.) This was ten years ago, prices have gone down considerable since then. At this time the only additional cost has been $400 to replace the six volt batteries, which lived almost to the day as long as they said they would. We stayed totally solar power independent in the winter in AZ for nine years. We plug in at our property in the summer in ID because I totally love my washer and dryer in the shed and well, because we can.

    Solar is fantastic.

  6. Mary McLaughlin
    January 2, 2016 / 7:31 pm

    Mike and I have been living small as full time RVers since Dec. 13, 2005. My sister is very interested in tiny houses and has lured me in, as a somewhat expert less is more observer.

    Our home is 300 sf, 13,933 lb. GVWR, 33’3′ from the pin which has a 2,195 lbs. dry pin weight. These numbers are very important to me, as I spent many days researching tow vehicles that could handle the house. (I was a reference librarian in our previous life, no query too small or large.) Our tow vehicle is a F350 4×4 crew cab, long bed with a GCVW of 23,000. In hind-site, a F250 2×4 short bed with the same GCVW would have given us considerable more pulling capacity as it is a lighter vehicle.

    The question I have about tiny houses is how the weight is reduced to allow safe pulling. Mike has been in home construction for decades and we built our last stick house ourselves, so we’re both aware of the weight involved in building a house, large or small. I love the organic look of tiny houses; our home is cozy inside (remodels and decorating) but does lack the outside esthetics of a cottage.

    So, how do you do it? I know a RV is not considered a tiny house and while I disagree, I very much respect that view for others.

    Btw, I love love love living small. We take the house to the Colorado River in AZ in the winter and back to our rural property in ID for the summer. Someday we may get too old to drive between the lines and end up in a stick house again, but it will be very, very small. One could say tiny:)

    • January 3, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Well, a wood framed house will inherently be much much heavier than a travel trailer as you already know. Usually almost twice the weight. I don’t always recommend people to build/buy a tiny house if their one and only intention is to travel with it on a sporadic basis, it has to be a lifestyle commitment as well.
      Our house is 125sqft on the floor and weighs 10,160lbs fully loaded with about 1,500lbs on the tongue. We tow it with a 2006 6.0 Ford F250 crewcab long bed 4×4. It’s rated to tow up to 12,500lbs. The house is not aerodynamic so it’s that much more challenging for the truck. And the truck we got (actually, the engine that Ford design for that truck) is a POS and cost us quite a bit during our travels. A lighter truck with the same engine could tow more, yes, but you’d also have a lighter truck trying to stop the weight behind (even if the trailer has brakes). A longer wheelbase also helps with towing (at least for tow-behind trailers).

  7. TinyHouseInCanada
    December 29, 2015 / 12:24 pm

    Hi Jenna! My fiancé and I are moving to California permanently from Canada and were wondering if you know of a good resource where we could find information on restrictions when it comes to bringing our tiny home (that we have yet to build) across the border. Any suggestions? Love your blog!

    • December 29, 2015 / 1:00 pm

      Honestly you should read our posts about crossing the border. Here, here and here.
      You’d have to do research on having the right paperwork to take your rig into the USA. We are USA citizens that were traveling through Canada with our (selfbuilt) camper. It would be way different for a Canadian wanting to move permanently into the USA and I’m not sure we can really give you much info.
      Good luck

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