This retreat to a tiny house has helped me disconnect and reconnect with what matters most

ByDavid M. Conte

Dec 24, 2021

If you’ve ever scoured Instagram and encountered a photo of someone doing a complicated acroyoga pose in front of a huge glass window in a small wooden box in the woods, there’s a good chance it was taken in Getaway. The modern cabin rental company, founded in 2015 and featured in season eight of Shark aquarium in 2017, now has more than a dozen sites across the country.

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

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

Accommodation in a small house in Getaway. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza

Intentional minimalism

As soon as I arrive at the Getaway location in North Carolina, I realize that I won’t be as alone as I expected. I walk past a family sitting in Adirondack chairs around a campfire as I search for my designated wooden box. Around the corner, a couple are preparing lunch at their picnic table while their dog is strapped to an insanely long leash.

The cabins are spread over 31 acres of land, but I can still hear the faint chatter of my neighbors. Each guest has their own personal lot 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 small house overlooking a forest
Looking at the landscape. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza

I try to retrieve an email that lists my cabin number and find I lost cell service somewhere between the entrance and passing through the outpost. It’s good – Getaway prepares guests with what to expect, directions, and additional details before arrival, and I’m prepared with screenshots (the campsite map is especially helpful).

My accommodations are really tiny, but the ceiling rises inconspicuously towards 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 photos, but you’ll have to wait to post your photos – Getaway stays true to its minimalist word, with a strict no-Wi-Fi or TV policy (cabins have air conditioning, heating, electricity, and running water, but cell service is spotty or nonexistent).

The small space also includes a dining table, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom. In the cabins for two people, a queen-size bed offers a close view of the forest. In cabins for four (the maximum number of people allowed), two queen-size beds are stacked, bunk-style, for a fun summer camp vibe.

Kitchen inside a small house in the woods.
The kitchen of our little house. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza
A s'mores kit and a retreat guide.
Getaway guide and welcome material. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza


I am delighted to have unplanned, unstructured and uninterrupted free time with my father and my dog, Theodore. I cherish the break with routine and technology. I not only needed to reconnect with those I was traveling with, but also with myself, my soul and my spirit. I need to be inspired and motivated again.

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

Small houses by a lake.
Panoramic water views at Getaway. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza

Evenings at Getaway are even more magical. After the sun goes down, my father lights a fire. The three of us gather around the flames, two of us reading under the stars while Theodore uses his long leash. I look up from my book and see hundreds of bright stars. For dinner, we cook food wrapped in aluminum foil on a rack above the wood we have gathered from the forest bed. We eat at the picnic table and we devour the dessert thanks to the s’mores kit offered by Getaway. We fall asleep early, full and happy.

What really matters

In the morning we boil tea and prepare eggs on the electric stove. I take Theodore for a walk along the nearby stream while my father 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 refuge in our cabin, play card games and browse the mini-collection of books at our disposal. The fascinating window – an entire wall of the wooden box – gives us front row seats for our own private nature show.

Man and small dog sitting by a campfire outside the Getaway house.
Make a fire outside our little house. | Photo: Latifah Al Hazza

To take full advantage of Getaway, customers are encouraged to switch to disconnection. After only two days off the grid – surrounded by nature, cooking meals over a campfire with two of the most important characters in my life – it’s not hard for me to realize what matters the most, or does not matter, in life. And I know I won’t find it on my Instagram feed.

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