Tiny House Towing 101

A tiny house on wheels is a comfy ticket to adventure. Right? With the proper planning, it definitely can be.

A common misconception is that all tiny house dwellers are nomads. For most, the wheels mean flexibility. You can move when the need or desire arises.

Some travel because of their jobs like travel nurses. Others road trip in search of the ideal new city. There are genuine nomads or semi-nomads, like myself, who frequently travel as a lifestyle choice. Think snowbirds or restless explorer types. No matter the reason for a move, safety on the road is essential. In this article, we will show you the basics of tiny house towing.

To date, we have traveled over 50,000 miles with our tiny house. During the last three and a half years, 36 states and one Canadian province have become our temporary home. Consequently, we have taken our tiny house to the desert, to both coasts and over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Tiny house travel hasn’t always been an easy experience. The most important lessons learned are what not to do, like never leave without two spare tires and wheels. After all the ups and downs, our empowering takeaway is that with the right preparation, you can tow your tiny house as much, or as little, as you want and have the time of your life.

No matter if you want to do-it-yourself or with a hired professional driver, here are five critical things you need to be aware before you hit the road.

1.  Just because it has wheels does not mean it is road trip-ready.

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A tiny house on wheels has wanderlust allure to it. It is very appealing to think you take your home almost anywhere. If your dream tiny home needs a triple axle trailer, it is not most likely not intended for road-tripping. Though that doesn't mean it can't be moved.

Keep in mind that they're difficult to maneuver on the road. Not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.The bigger and heavier the tiny house, the less available parking and tow vehicle options.

 

2. Travel prep begins during the design/build phase.

Your tiny house design needs reflect how often you plan to move. The more you want to move, the more critical weight distribution is for a safe tow experience. An unbalanced trailer can result in unsafe swerving on the road. Sway bars won’t fix poor distribution!

A good rule of thumb: the 60/40 split. Place 60% of the total tiny house weight between the center of wheels and front of the trailer (towards the tongue).

3. Before you travel, check your tow prep list twice. Every time!

When it comes to traveling with a tiny house, you can never be too careful. There are many steps to properly hooking up your trailer to the tow vehicle. One missed step can result in a catastrophe. Every single time we are ready to hit the road, we go through our checklist. And when we stop for gas, we go through the list again.

Before you tow checklist:
  • Proper tire pressure
  • Secure attachment to the truck, including hitch lock and emergency break-away system
  • Working trailer brakes (7-pin connector and electronic brake system in the cab)
  • Working trailer lights
  • Correct mirror placement

For more tips, watch our Tiny House Travel YouTube Playlist:

4.  Practice the 3 C’s.

Stay calm, cool and collected at all times. Think about towing your tiny house like a form of meditation. Your goal is to focus entirely on driving with precision. Stress and distractions will occur. That’s ok; this is background noise.

To stay focused ground yourself in the repetition of safe driving practices:
  • Check your mirrors frequently.
  • Change lanes gradually. Never jerk the wheel.
  • Take slow, wide turns—like a waltz.
  • No rushing necessary. You’ll get there when you get there.

5.  Misadventures happen.

The adventure begins when things go wrong. Like the time we got a flat tire on the way to Burning Man, or the time a wheel seized up, and we had to limp it to a repair shop. What’s remarkable about both mishaps is the kindness of strangers we experienced. A stranger offered us help to fix the tire, and the shop allowed us to sleep in the tiny house overnight and even gave us power.

The delightful thing about having your house with you is you go inside to make coffee while you wait for the mobile repairman. That’s precisely what we did when we got our last flat tire. The more you travel with your tiny house, the more likely you are to find yourself in a temporary bind. My advice: stay calm. You will find a solution.

Things to always bring:

  • Spare tire and wheelset
  • 1, 12,000 lb bottle jack (more depending on the weight of house)
  • Tire iron to remove lugs
  • Jack stands/stabilizers
  • Wheel levers
  • Coupler lock

 

-Alexis & Christian, founders of Tiny House Expedition