The Tiny house Blog

Traveling in a Tiny House - Jenna Spesard

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
Jenna Spesard outside her tiny house

Having visited more than thirty U.S. States and five Canadian Provinces with her Tiny House in tow, Jenna breaks down what life on the road looks like while living in a tiny house.


Jenna: Hello? See if people can hear me. Just getting set up here, getting ready to start. Got a couple people tuned in, I think, yep, you can hear me. Okay, good. It's a little weird giving these talks over the interwebs, they just don't really know, you know how it's all going to work. I do have a little PowerPoint for you guys and see if I can get that going really quick. So, there. Okay, cool. All right, so I'm going to kind of introduce myself. And then I'm hoping like the last five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, depending on how quick I can get through this. We can do a Q&A here in Seattle, just so you know, I'm not in myiny at the moment. I also have this house, which is a 500 square foot house in Seattle that I shared with my husband. It was his house before we got married. And so, this is primarily where we're isolated. And my Tiny House is parked about an hour away. And I'll show you pictures of where it's parked and everything.

Once I get through my whole story. Alright, so you guys can see, I think you can see the PowerPoint. So, I'm just going to kind of slowly go through that. Okay. So, my story begins in 2013. When I started building the Tiny House, it took me about a year to build it, I built it in Los Angeles. And the idea behind building my Tiny House was so that I could travel with it for a year with my partner at the time, and so we built it, thinking about weight, thinking about length. So, it's a 20-foot Tiny House, and it weighs 10,000 pounds, it's actually more than we wanted it to weigh, but you don't really know, especially when you're at the beginning of the movement, how much your Tiny House is going away. As you're building it, you can kind of calculate, but you know, we were building off of plans, and we just weren't exactly sure, and it came out a little heavy, so we ended up getting a bigger truck. Anyway, I'll get into that in a second. But, after we finished building, we traveled with it for a year and a half. So, from September 2014, to 2016. And then I lived in it by myself full time for two years after that, from 2016, 2018. And since 2018 when I moved in with my husband, in this 500 square foot mansion that we now live in, I think Seattle on foundation. I started renting it out on Airbnb part time and using it part time as like my little oasis. My like little she-shed, if you will. So, I still go out and use my Tiny House.

I'm just going to show you interior photos because I know people want to see those that don't really have anything to do with Tiny House travel. But in case you don't know, haven't been to my website, don't know about my house, just thought I'd share a couple things. One thing that we did when we were designing it is made sure that all of the appliances could be off grid. Because when you're traveling with a Tiny House, you don't always know where you're going to park and sometimes that means not having hookups. So, we had water tanks, we had a wood stove that you can see right there. Our refrigerator runs off of propane, or electricity. And yeah, we have a water pump for water pressure. And the heat is either electric or woodstove depending on if I'm plugged in or not. And we had solar. So, I don't have all those systems working anymore because I am plugged into the grid where I'm parked currently. But when I was traveling with my Tiny House, I was using those off grid systems all the time, because you can really save a lot of money on parking. Because you don't always have to park sorry, you don't always have to park at an RV park. So, I talked a little bit about weight when I was talking about the design. So that's something that if you plan on traveling with your Tiny House that you really need to think about. So, like I said, my Tiny House weighed about 10,000 pounds, which is more than I actually wanted it to weigh so wait as ever. I think someone said that they can't hear me. Everyone can hear me right? And you can see the

Okay, just making sure because I saw someone say they couldn't but it must be on their end. Okay. So the weight is really important, especially your weight distribution. So if you're top heavy, or if you're toeside, heavy or backside heavy, it's all about where your wheel wells are. And I had to learn kind of the hard way because my Tiny House was not very evenly distributed. And so, we had to get some extra things afterwards to accommodate for that. So that's something you definitely need to think about in your design, before you start traveling with your Tiny House.

The truck that you're going to need will depend on the weight of your Tiny House. So, you can actually weigh your Tiny House at the certified scales that truckers use, you can do that a couple times during your build. So, you kind of know how you're going. We did that about halfway through and realized that the wood paneling that I had these beautiful teak wood panels that I was going to use in the bathroom was going to be a wet bath. And we just couldn't use them because they were so heavy. And we were already looking like we were going to be too heavy or heavier than we wanted. And, you know, the truck that we had purchased was a three-quarter ton truck, we really didn't want to have to go any bigger than that we didn't want to have to get a dually. So, we had this limitation that we were really stuck behind.

So that's the truck that we ended up purchasing, you don't necessarily need to purchase a truck, I will say, unless you are going to travel full time like I did. Otherwise, I've since moved my Tiny House in the last four or five years, a few times, and not very often. I only move it maybe once a year, maybe twice a year. And I rent a truck from U haul or anywhere that you can rent a three-quarter ton or one ton truck or I had a friend once loaned me his truck, he was in a construction business. So, I was just able to use that. And that is way more affordable than buying a truck. So, if you only plan on moving your Tiny House, once or twice a year, I don't think you need to buy a truck.

So, you need to know what kind of tow kit that you're going to need for your Tiny House. And I'll get into that later on in this presentation what I use, and then your general idea of a route. Now you can kind of wing it. But at least at first, if you're going to travel, I think you should sort of plan out where you're going to go. And one of the main reasons for that is because parking you're going to need to know where you can park. So, if you're going to be parking at campgrounds or national parks, kind of knowing before you go is a good idea. Some campgrounds won't accept Tiny Houses, I think they're getting more and more. There are more and more campgrounds that will be there since I was traveling, because they're more known.

So, I would call ahead and sort of go to places that you know, at least at first, that Tiny Houses are accepted. And then I'm still getting someone saying you can't hear but I think everybody else can hear. So unless I see more people, I'll just keep going. Also, for your route, you're going to need to know if the Tiny House can fit because there's some roads that you won't be able to fit a Tiny House on, there's going to be bridges that are too low for your you know, however tall your Tiny House was mine was 13 feet five inches. So, it was really scary to go underneath a bridge that was 13 feet six inches, but we did it and we watched very carefully as we did it, you can get different RV GPS that will help you with that. There's also going to be roads that are going to be too narrow and there's going to be roads that will not accept your weight limit. So, knowing that ahead of time is really important.

And also, some places do not allow you to have open propane tanks. I found that out when I tried to go into New York City, we had to take off our propane tanks and leave them somewhere and then when we left New York City, we could come back and grab them.

So, oops. Okay, next slide. So, this is the route that I went on. When I was traveling with my Tiny House for that year and a half. And the slide isn't that important. I just kind of wanted to show you how much road I covered. Yeah, you can see my cursor, can't you. But anyway, some of it was a ferry. So, I put my Tiny House on a ferry. And so, these were nautical miles. So, this is a year and a half of travel. And I started in Illinois. Well originally, I started in California where I built the Tiny House. And then I finished the Tiny House in Illinois at my parents' house. So, there is a cross country trip there. That's not even marked, but it was just zoom go straight from California to Illinois. So really the beginning of the big trip was Illinois and then went all the way up to Alaska all the way down to Florida and into a few provinces in Canada.

Anyone else not seeing the slides? I see a couple people saying they're not seeing slides. Is anyone seeing the slides? I'm sorry, I just keep asking. Okay, thanks, guys. At least some people are seeing them. So, I'm happy with that.


Okay, so this is my Tiny House in British Columbia 25,000 miles over that year and a half 1200 nautical miles. And that is what I was saying about the ferry trip that I took a couple of ferry trips. So, one of those ferries was from Alaska down to Washington, and another was from Maine over to Nova Scotia. So, I racked up some nautical miles as well. This is the truck that I used. I mentioned that earlier was a Ford F-250 quarter ton diesel truck, and it barely was able to pull my house. The main thing that you need to pay attention to is the tow weight. And so, the tow hitch weight, your truck needs to be able to carry that amount. Usually, it's about 10% of the total weight of your Tiny House.

This picture is one of my favorites from the trip. So, when you have a Tiny House for whatever reason you really like going to places where they have [at least I did]] the biggest of something. So, this is the world's largest X. And my Tiny House is positioned just in front of it. So, it kind of looks like it's chopping it in half. I did so many of those throughout the trip, you know the world's largest lobster, ball of yarn, treehouse. Fire Hydrant, the world's largest fire hydrant, I think is in South Carolina. So, that's just a really fun thing to do when you have something that's so tiny to put it in something in front of something that's really large.

This is one of my favorite parts of traveling with a Tiny House, one of my favorite trips is going up to the Arctic Circle and Alaska. I think that was the first Tiny House to ever do that. And at the time when we were up there. We said, you know, we're the most northern Tiny House in the world. So yeah, this is actually the midnight sun that you're seeing. So, this was at midnight, we finally made it up to the Arctic Circle. And you can tell that I'm pretty overjoyed about it. Mileage when you're traveling with a Tiny House, you know, it depends on the truck and how much your Tiny House ways and how brave you are. But I'm sorry, speed is how brave you are. But mileage for us. It was about nine, you know, give or take. And the typical speed that we'd go is about 55. We got it up to 75 a couple of times, but you know, not recommended.

So, a lot of people ask me what kind of maintenance happened over the year and a half of traveling with a Tiny House and going 25,000 miles? Well, we had three flat tires on the Tiny House and many more on the truck. And, you know, fixing a flat tire on a Tiny House is pretty complicated because they weigh so much. I'll get into that a little bit more in a little bit. But you can also luckily, we were lucky enough that we were able to patch so they weren't like fully flat tires, we were able to patch and take it into the nearest place that could work on it and they could actually lift it up and change the tire for us that's always preferred, in my opinion to trying to do it yourself. We had a broken weld that was probably the most expensive and scariest thing that happened was one of the welds on the axle popped off and so one of our axles was actually loose, we continued to drive with it because we were in the middle of nowhere in the Yukon up in Canada and got it to somewhere in Dawson City I think and they fixed it for $600 which was so cheap. You know we had to get a hotel room for the night and had to keep it overnight and fix the axle. But I was so happy with that and that it didn't turn out worse but I think we had to go about five miles an hour while that axle was broken and it made a loud clunk noise when it happened. That was very, very scary. And then we bent the trailer jack, often the trailer jacks, it's just way too low. These Tiny Houses sit really low. So, if you go over any sort of divot, you know, extremely inclined driveway, you're scraping and so we I've done that with my little I have a little fiberglass trailer too. It's just anybody who tows a trailer, I think this has happened to them at some point or another. So, it's not an expensive fix, eventually you just replace the jack or you can just be a little bit more conscious about the slope of where you're towing.


So, I mentioned changing a tire can be a hassle. This is the one time that we changed the tire ourselves because we were out in the middle of nowhere in Alaska and we had to have a total blowout. Since then, we you know I wrote an article about how to do that step by step. And this is our little trailer jack that we used. It's a Yeah, it's Anderson is the name of the company that makes us it's just a little plastic like trailer jack that you can drive up on. You can see how the tire is almost scraping up there in the wheel well, so we barely had enough room, we had to actually shim it with a piece of wood that we had in order to get it up there. But, you know, we were able to do that. So that we were able to change this tire here on the right, and get it to, you know, be up in the air so we could actually remove it.

So anyway, that was an adventure. So, if you guys are interested in how to change tire on a Tiny House, you can go to my website and check out that article.

So, a tow kit that I recommend, and I used for that year and a half is something like this. So, Anderson, again, is the company that I used for my weight distribution system. I think pretty much every Tiny House should have a weight distribution system, even if you have evenly distributed weight. And that's because it really helps with the sway, especially if you're going on a highway and a semi-truck is going the opposite way, you'll feel that sway and it can be really alarming. Well, these sway bars really, really help with that. So, this is the one I recommend. There's plenty of other ones out there. These are the levelers I used on the right here. And so that's Anderson, and they also make that Jack. In fact, they all might come together in a kit. So, I highly recommend those. They're lightweight, and they're basically indestructible. Trust me, I tried. RV GPS. So, there's plenty of different ones out there. The one I used in 2014 is pretty old now. So, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. But any RV GPS that can be updated with new road closures, new restrictions on how low bridges, they will let you know and reroute you around so you don't have to worry about making your Tiny House into a convertible by going under a low bridge, or going on a bridge or road that has a weight limit that you would exceed. So, it's mostly for peace of mind, but really, really great to have just definitely get one of those. They're expensive but worth the price. A lock is important for safety, just so no one can come up in tow your Tiny House away while you're gone.

And then the Trailer Valet I have down here. This is actually something that I use more for my fiberglass trailer that I have. So, I have a little 10-foot fiberglass trailer. This allows me to move that around without actually hooking up to a truck. But they do make ones that are super beefy. I've seen people use them on Tiny Houses. The same company are called Trailer Valet that can move a Tiny House. So if you're in a tight situation, and you can't necessarily back out or back in or maybe you want to park your Tiny House because your door is on the license plate and maybe you want to park your Tiny House so that that part is facing the road and not your hitch.

Well, these trailer valleys will let you do that in a really tight space and you don't have to have your truck actually back your Tiny House in so parking for Tiny House. So, there's lots of different options. These are the ones I used back in 2014 2015. So there might be more options now. But I used a lot of BLM land so that's basically like free parking. I think it's called Queensland in. In Canada, basically if you park there for a couple nights you can't stay there full-time. Most of these parking situations that I'm listing here are for traveling Tiny Houses. So, these, these are temporary parking situations. So that's great because it's free, but you're definitely not going to have hookups or anything like that. So, you need to have all those off grid appliances that I was talking about earlier. campgrounds and RV parks of course are always an option boondocking so there's which is Crown land. Thank you someone that is Queensland's Crown land is a great website or, BoonDockers  


I think there's like several of them. That's people offering up their land or any part of maybe it's in a brewery I did that once a brewery that has a parking spot that they'll let an RV park overnight so you can actually park in those places for free again, you probably won't have hookups, truck stops and Walmart obviously those are the free overnight just one-night stops. Usually with truck stops. It's an eight-hour limit. Walmart you got to go in and purchase something Obviously, this is not glamorous or anything, but on occasion, it's necessary and a lot of truck stops have dump stations, which are great, because you really occasionally need to dump your gray water if you have it. Or if you have black water, you're going to need to dump those somewhere. That's legal backyards.

So, I was lucky that a lot of people were following me on YouTube and Facebook and Instagram at the time. So, I had a lot of people offer up their driveways in their backyards. So really connect with the community on all of those different social media. And people are usually more than happy if you just let them tour your Tiny House to let you park in their driveway. And a lot of times, they'll even give you an extension cable and let you hook up your electricity. And they'll maybe let you water their garden with your gray water if they're into that, or fill up your water tank with their hose. So those can really come in handy. Harvest hosts. I've only done that once or twice, but that's one like BoonDockers but particularly to like wineries and farms. And sometimes they require you to work a little bit on the land to park there for free, but it's a great option.

So, after I traveled with my Tiny House for a year and a half. Like I said earlier, I started Airbnb. So, where I ended up in the very end is Mount Hood, Tiny House village in Oregon, and I lived in the Tiny House full time for a couple of years there. This is a picture of it. It was a beautiful place to live, I really enjoyed it. And when I moved in with my husband here in Seattle, I started AirBnBing my Tiny House part time because I just hated that it was sitting there empty, and I thought I'd give it a try. Even though I was using it, you know, like maybe a week or two out of the month. I thought the times I'm not using it, I'd like to share it with others. And so, I started doing that in Mount Hood. And now I'm currently on Whidbey Island.

I actually moved it about a year ago up to Whidbey Island because it's closer to me here in Seattle than Mount Hood was down in Oregon. So, it's only about an hour away from where I live right now. And if I have to take a ferry to get there, I had to put the Tiny House on a ferry to get it over to Whidbey Island. It's just another fun thing. And I just love my spot. I have so much privacy if it's on a farm so I get to actually go and get fresh vegetables and fresh eggs. I'm good friends with the farm owners. We have bonfires, there's actually a Tiny House parked about 100 feet from me and another Tiny House that's parked there, they have a year on the property. They have an airstream and a couple travel trailers. So, they have 20 acres, and they just rent out spots. And I end up not really paying rent, because I am able to supplement Airbnb. So, the agreement that I have with the farm owners is that they do the cleaning and turnover and I pay them for that. And then we split the Airbnb so I get 70% of the profit from that and they get 30% and ends up making enough that I make a little bit of money and I don't pay rent and/or utilities to park here. So, I have my little oasis not only for free, but actually making me a little bit of money as well. So, it's a really great situation for me. It's great for the farm owners because they sometimes use the Tiny House as well for their friends and family. Or they sometimes will go out there with their young daughters and have a sleepover night and they get to make a little extra income off of it as well. So, it's a win-win situation for everybody.


And when they are looking for more people, I get this all the time. Do they need more people on the property right now they're not looking for anyone else, all the spaces are full, but whenever they are, I will definitely announce that and help them choose. It's actually pretty difficult because now that I've spoken about it so many times and really hyped them up, they're getting a lot of inquiries. You got to be the right fit for them and the community that we have there because it is a community, we all work on the farm. There's a sauna, there's a little gym that they've made out of the one of the garages so it's really like a little community and it's really nice out there so I really enjoy it.

Just another interior shot. This is me on the farm in my Tiny House. So, this was taken a couple weeks ago so like I said I still go out there and enjoy my space. Oh, and going back I did build this porch after moving there. Obviously, this did not come with me. This is not attached to the Tiny House. So, when I moved it to Whidbey Island and it felt like such a beautiful place and I wanted to be outside more often, I thought I need more outside space that's covered. I mean, I'm in Washington, so it rains often. So, a covered space. So, this is my, like extra outdoor space that I built on afterwards. And I hung that swing and I just kept hanging hammocks and stuff I just kept building on. So yeah, interior space there.

And that's the end of my little slideshow, which is perfect timing, because we got about five minutes left for questions. And I have a YouTube channel, I have a Facebook and Instagram and the blog, and they're all called Tiny House giant journey. You can find them all on the blog. And I've written a ton of articles about traveling with a Tiny House about living in a Tiny House about Airbnb being a Tiny House. On my YouTube channels, I do a ton of Tiny House tours. So not just my Tiny House, but a bunch of them: Schoolies vans, yurts, I've done a couple videos of the farm that I'm parked on if you want to see it, a lot of videos of Mount Hood, Tiny House village where I was parked before. So, I think it's a good resource. And obviously, I'm passionate about it. So, if you guys want to check that out.

Now I'm going to kind of go scroll back and see if I can answer any questions, you guys can put me down there at the bottom as well. Oh, man, there's a lot of comments. So, I wish I could see them all. Okay, there's a lot of comments. Let me just go down to the bottom. If you guys have questions, maybe you could ask them now and I can try to answer them.

“Which type of tiny living would you recommend to start?” Well, what I recommend to start is trying out a Tiny House if you can. And that means renting one. There's plenty of Tiny House villages that are for rent, or Airbnb. I'm not necessarily promoting mine, but I'm just saying, back when I started, I was building my Tiny House and I've never I never actually saw one in person. I just saw pictures of them online. And then I bought the plans and I started building. It wasn't until I started traveling with my Tiny House that I ever even saw a Tiny House. So, I think it's important and there's a lot more out there now that you actually go inside of different Tiny Houses and Schoolies, go to the events, go to the Tiny House festivals when you can actually go and see people. Watch YouTube channels of tours. Make a list of what you want because when you step inside of one it might change your mind.

“Would you recommend doing something like this over getting a Schoolie? What would be the difference?” So, I think if you're going to travel full time, a Tiny House is probably not the answer for you. I'll be honest and this is coming from somebody who's traveled with a Tiny House for over a year and a half. I think that vans and buses are a lot easier to travel with and are obviously made for that; they're actually vehicles not just trailers. I think Tiny Houses are best if you want to move them a couple times a year. But if you're going to be traveling with it like I did 25,000 miles in a year and a half you're going to spend so much money on gas it's going to be outrageous. So, think smaller, think small school bus you know short school bus, think van if you're going to travel full time, or do like I did and plan on traveling for a year and then settle down somewhere because it's not sustainable to travel. Some people do it. Tiny House expedition does it but it's really expensive. I was spending seven or $800 a month just on gas to travel that much with my Tiny House. That's not including what I was paying for campgrounds and you know, groceries and other things. So, I was spending over $1,000 a month just to live in a Tiny House when you think about what you could rent for that price and a lot different places it doesn't necessarily make sense


"Name of the Airbnb on the farm.” You can go to my website. I have a link to my Tiny House that's the Airbnb so you can find it that way.

So, someone put a great resource for parking on there that they're offering 30 acres so if you want to check that out.

“Do you have any plans to hit the road again?” Not with my Tiny House. Like I said, I don't necessarily recommend Tiny Houses for full time travel. I did my adventure and I loved it, but I just can't afford it. And I don't know that many people that can so that's why I bought my little 10 foot a fiberglass trailer it weighs 800 pounds. My Tiny House weighs over 10,000 pounds. I can pull my fiberglass trailer with my hybrid car. I spent way less money. I still get to hang out in campgrounds and do kind of the same thing. So, I prefer that.

Okay, I only have 41 seconds left. So that's maybe only one more question. Sorry, guys.

I don't know of all the places for parking someone asked in Seattle. There are places popping up all the time. There are new legalities happening all the time. And so, you just kind of have to Google and look up in your own areas and join those Facebook groups for your region.

Anyway, I got 17 seconds left. So, I just want to wrap it up and say thanks for joining me here. Check out my website. For more information. Email me, I'll try to answer your questions. And thanks for joining and hope you're staying safe. Bye, guys.

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