Packed schedules, technology overload, and the persistent feeling that you’ll never have enough time to get through your to-do list: this is the modern dilemma.
Do you remember the last time you fully unplugged and had truly unstructured free time? If you were like me and drew a blank at that question — you could probably use a getaway!
But not just any getaway: I’m talking about a disconnected retreat away from the daily demands of work or school and into nature. Not one of those trips that leaves you thinking “I need a vacation from that vacation!”
This past weekend, my husband and I ventured to a tiny cabin at Getaway House Chicago in Barber Creek to relax, unplug, and recharge. I’m sharing a complete review of our stay there and PLENTY of tips to help you prepare if you decide to go on your own Getaway retreat as well.
Note: this guide was sponsored by Getaway and I was given a free two-night stay as part of the partnership. As always, I only partner with brands I truly love and all opinions in partnership content are my own.
In this review, I’m sharing:
- What Getaway House exactly is
- Where you can book Getaway cabins
- What to expect during your Getaway stay
- Getaway’s sustainability
- How long to stay
- What the Getaway Chicago Outpost is like
- Things to do (and not do!)
- Packing list suggestions
- Final thoughts on Getaway
- A discount code for you to use!
What is Getaway House?
Getaway offers tiny, modern cabins immersed in nature that are around two hours away from large cities.
Created with the belief that “free time is a right and ritual for everyone”, Getaway’s cabins are designed to help their guests escape from the daily grind of work (or school), overflowing schedules, and technology.
Essentially Getaway helps people disconnect from their busy lives and reconnect with the natural environment, their loved ones, and themselves along the way. Because they believe that “joy is found when we slow down, wander, and marvel at the world.”
Now that is truly a vision that I can get aligned with!
Where Can I Book a Getaway Cabin?
Okay let’s talk logistics. At the time of publishing, Getaway has over 20 outposts available to book across the United States.
Getaway is also offering campgrounds for the summer in a couple select locations with “all-set” and “DIY” options.
Each Getaway Outpost has one bed and two-bed cabin options. The one bed cabin could fit up to two adults or two adults + one child and the two bed cabin could sleep four adults or two adults + two kids.
In the West, they offer outposts near Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
In the Southwest: Austin + San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston.
In the Midwest: Chicago (this is the one I visited!), Kansas City, and Minneapolis.
In the Southeast: Atlanta, Charlotte + Raleigh, Nashville, and New Orleans.
In the Northeast: Boston (two outposts), New York (three outposts), Pittsburgh + Cleveland, and Washington D.C.
How Much Do Getaway Cabins Cost?
With over 20 locations, this is going to vary! But you can actually get a three-weeknight pack for $350 or three any-night pack for $450 that you can use at any location. There are four-night and six-night packs available as well.
The Getaway Chicago Outpost (Barber Creek) is $139+ for a one bedroom cabin.
What to Expect at Getaway Cabins
I think the best way to describe Getaway is a glamping style accommodation. You could think of it as a mix between a cabin and RV camping or tiny home living.
Your essentials are covered: basic furnishings and bed, bedding, electricity and charging outlets, kitchen with a stovetop and sink, private bathroom with a shower and toilet (with plumbing and everything), and an AC / heat unit.
I got a question on Instagram asking if the cabin got hot or sticky at night and the answer is no! You can close all of the windows and use the AC unit if necessary. You can also keep the windows open during the day since there are bug screens.
The bed is certainly the highlight of the cabin! It’s queen-sized, super comfortable, and best of all: is right along a wall-sized window overlooking the natural landscape. We live in an apartment that overlooks a forested area and we were still impressed by how immersive that view was.
One of our questions about the window was if we could put a shade over it in the evening. And the answer is: yes!
There is a blind you can pull over the window. You’ll still see the sun peaking through in the mornings, but I liked that personally since I prefer to wake up with the natural light.
There are a few steps leading up to the elevated bed in the one bedroom cabins. We used these steps as our luggage storage area. There is also an accessible cabin option at Getaway Barber Creek with a bed lower to the ground.
The kitchen table is small (again, it’s a tiny cabin!), but that was totally fine for us since we ate all of our meals outdoors anyway.
Also to note: you’ll see a reminder to conserve your hot water and wait a little bit in between showers. We’re quite used to taking short showers though and washing dishes in a water-efficient way (i.e. not keeping the faucet on the entire time) so we did not experience any issues with running out of hot water.
Getaways are designed for you to maximize your time outdoors. And certainly, you will! The outdoor space is expansive — far more than what you would get at a typical camping spot.
At first I expected that we would see other people as you would at RV campgrounds, but Getaway positions the cabins strategically so that you’re overlooking nature and not staring at other cabins.
Included with your cabin, you have your own picnic bench, adirondack chairs (two for one-bed cabins, four for two-bed cabins), and a fire pit.
There is also a bin with firewood bundles for purchase as well as a fire starter to buy. And, there are lighters inside the cabin that you’re free to use as well.
Basically, Getaway provides everything you need, and nothing you don’t! Speaking of which… let’s talk wifi.
Do the Cabins Have Wifi?
Because Getaway’s mission is to help you disconnect from your everyday routine, there is no wifi and the Outposts don’t have the best cell service (or any at all). The cabins even have “phone lockboxes” for you to store away your devices to help you disconnect.
This might make some people a bit hesitant at first, but I was actually looking forward to this aspect. I’ve been trying to disconnect more often — especially since reading the book Stolen Focus — but the temptation can be real. It certainly helps to not even be able to access the internet.
It felt great to leave my laptop and work behind, and not even feel the slightest bit bad about it.
Pro tip: download a map of your trip to Getaway and of your Getaway Outpost in advance, given the lack of service and wifi!
Getaway’s Outposts are around 2 hours away from major cities. Since they’re in more rural areas, you will most likely need to drive your car or rent a car for your stay there.
Pro tip: The sign to the Getaway Barber Creek was pretty discretely marked, and I’ve read similar things from people who visited other outposts. So once you get close, keep a close eye out for the entrance!
Check-In and Check-Out
Your entire Getaway experience is socially distanced by design. You don’t have to interact with a single other person if you don’t want to, and that includes check-in. However if you have any issues, they do have staff on site to help out.
Getaway will text you your cabin name and unlock code about 30 minutes before your check-in time. Super straightforward and simple! I really liked that we didn’t have to worry about a key during our stay.
The check-out is even easier. All you have to do is pack up your stuff and lock the door behind you. If you use any of the provisions (basically like a hotel minibar), they’ll send you the final charges afterwards.
Can I Bring My Dog?
Yes! Getaway has some tips for traveling with your pup here. It’s an additional $40 fee to bring your dog as well, which includes a little welcome treat upon arrival.
I believe Getaway as a general guideline to keep dogs leashed outside at all times, but you’ll want to especially make sure of that in the Getaway Barber Creek location since coyotes are native to the area.
Is There Parking?
Yup! At Getaway Barber Creek, we were able to pull up right next to our cabin.
What if I’ve Never Camped Before?
As I mentioned, Getaway is somewhat of a mix of glamping and staying in a cabin. It would be a great introduction to camping / glamping even if you’ve never done something like this before.
Getaway makes sure you have all of your essentials so that you can sit back and relax.
They also have handy guides for things like how to start a fire, how to stargaze, or how to make s’mores.
Pro tip: Check out these How to Getaway archives for even more resources on what to pack and how to prepare no matter the season and who you’re traveling with — or if you’re traveling solo!
Is Getaway Sustainable?
Here at Conscious Life & Style, environmental and social responsibility are among our highest values. Sustainable travel can look many different ways. Here’s how Getaway stacks up:
The biggest impact of travel is likely how you’re getting there. This is especially true when taking a flight. What’s nice about Getaway’s locations is that they are just two hours away from major cities (and not near airports in most cases) so you won’t need to take a flight to get there. So the fact that we could just drive our Prius to the location was a major benefit to me!
Since the Getaway locations are quite secluded in nature, you probably won’t be able to rely fully on public transit to most locations and will need to take your car or do carsharing. If you’re driving an electric car, you can use an app like PlugShare to find nearby charging locations.
Immersed in Nature
Generally, there isn’t a more environmentally conscious way of traveling than camping! But not everyone wants to (or is able to) “rough it”, so that’s where Getaway comes in.
You can overlook nature’s wonders, witness wildlife firsthand, and connect with the rest of the living environment more closely from the comfort of Getaway’s tiny cabins.
Logistically speaking, this is more environmentally friendly because the Getaway grounds do not involve clearcutting and destroying native habitats to build their outposts like a massive resort complex would require.
Also, the tiny cabins are well, tiny. So they require fewer resources to build and less energy than large luxury cabins or hotels would.
Taking a more holistic perspective of sustainability, Getaway’s cabins also support a deeper connection to nature. Their outposts are set up in a way that makes glamping feel accessible even for self-described “non-outdoorsy people” or “city folks”. (Similarly, their campgrounds help ease people into camping by covering all the basics!) Most Getaway outposts offer accessible cabins too.
And when we foster an appreciation of and get to know the rest of the living world a bit better, we can develop a deeper relationship with nature. In turn, this motivates us (or reinvigorates us) to keep fighting the good fight for the future of our planet.
We also know that in every activism of sustainability journey, we must prioritize rest. I like to think of this as personal sustainability — if we’re not making time for self-care from time to time, we’re on a one-way street to burnout.
Part of Getaway’s founding mission is to “help people restore balance to their lives”, after all.
Similarly, Getaway’s tiny cabins give people a taste of tiny home living. There were several times during our stay that I thought: hm, I think I could live like this!
In essence, Getaway allows us to reconnect with what matters — and disconnect from what doesn’t.
When everything else is telling us that we need to consume more and live bigger to be satisfied, a Getaway weekend is a reminder to slow down and prioritize what matters most and what truly fuels our soul.
Inside the cabins, you’ll find plenty of reusable items to help limit waste too. They have biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles in the shower as well as a larger sized dish soap instead of single-use or short-term use toiletries.
Getaway also includes dish towels, plates, bowls, silverware, and other utensils in the kitchenettes to help you cook at the cabins and avoid using disposable dinnerware.
(Below I share more details on what to pack for your Getaway.)
The cabins also have a reminder to conserve hot water and have a recycling bin, though I do wish they included a compost as well for food scraps!
Getaway has several other sustainability and responsibility projects. They host artist fellowships, donate to One Tree Planted with every booking, and are giving away 365 nights at Getaway locations to those advocating for change as part of their “Year of Rest” initiative.
How Long Should I Stay?
I would recommend booking at least two nights since the idea is to disconnect and getaway, so you won’t want to feel rushed with just an overnight stay.
Beyond that, it would depend on your availability, the Getaway location you’re selecting, and what type of vacation you’d like.
If you want to just relax at your Getaway for a weekend to unwind from work and other demands, two nights is a nice amount of time to come back well-rested. If you stay three or more nights, you could have time to totally do nothing and also some time to take part in a few activities (depending on the Outpost you visit).
What To Do On Your Getaway
You might be a bit hesitant about an escape into a tiny cabin in the middle of a forest without cell service. Our constant connection to our devices has gotten us accustomed to not having a single moment without something to do. But, I promise you, that you will not miss wifi or your phone on your Getaway!
Here are some ideas for what to do.
First, What Not To Do
Work. Take care of what you need to beforehand and leave that laptop at home if you can! The exception might be if you want to do some deep work, like write a long essay, work on a novel, or think deeply about a project. But it’s not exactly an ideal time to check emails!
Scrolling on your phone. In the off-chance that you do have some service at your outpost, you can still put it away in Getaway’s Phone Lockbox so you’re not tempted to scroll social media!
Host a party or play loud music. Getaway Outposts are designed to be quiet retreats into nature. Respect your neighbors and keep the stereo music boxes at home!
Things To Do On Your Getaway
Now for what to do on your nature retreat!
In the Cabins
A Getaway trip is the perfect opportunity to do nothing — and not feel guilty about it. Sleep in or go to bed early, sit and look at the sunrise or the stars, observe the birds or other wildlife, meditate, or just enjoy a few moments of solitude doing absolutely nothing at all.
Getaway also provides some books to read as well as crayons and a coloring sheet.
Additionally, you could bring your own books, journal, and coloring books or other artistic projects.
My husband and I also cooked a lot and took our time enjoying each meal conversing with each other. The time without your phone is a great chance to connect more deeply with family, your partner, a friend, or yourself if you’re traveling solo.
What To Do Nearby (Getaway House Chicago)
The idea of the Getaway is to enjoy unstructured, unscheduled free time. Upon arrival, Getaway provides you with a map of nearby activities, sites, and stores, which we relied on for our trip.
This means that you don’t necessarily need to plan out activities to enjoy your time at the Getaway cabin.
But I thought it might be useful to share our experiences at Getaway’s recommended spots so that you can choose activities that you think you’d enjoy — and so you can pack accordingly!
This was an easy, well-paved trail that runs over 30 miles. It is a great trail for biking — I would say the trail was 80% bikes when we walked along it. If you’re bringing your bike on your Getaway trip, this is definitely the trail for you!
The trail head also has plenty of parking, basic bathrooms, and even free bike repair tools!
However, the trail wasn’t exactly what we were personally seeking on a hike. You have to walk along a main road towards the beginning and then walk under a major highway and along a river with a good number of boats. The trail started to get more secluded in nature later on, though we turned around slightly before the 2 mile mark.
In short: I recommend this trail if you want an easy walk or long bike ride, but not if you want a challenging or quiet hike.
Black River Preserve
This trail, on the other hand, was exactly what we were looking for! It’s a slightly more challenging dirt trail rather than pavement but it’s so worth it. I would call it a medium level. You need proper footwear and you’ll have to be careful when the trail is wet, but there aren’t any steep inclines or anything.
What I loved about this area was how quiet and peaceful it was — we only saw one other person the entire time. This meant that we could spot a lot of wildlife and get an uninterrupted experience in nature.
That said, you don’t want to forget your bug spray before heading here and you definitely want to wear long pants. It was 90 degrees and humid when we hiked and I still wore leggings tucked into mid-calf socks. I was glad I did because some areas of the trail we went on were grassy and could pose a risk of ticks.
The trails we took at this preserve are going down in my all time favorite trails because it was just so unexpected. I didn’t know such a lush, beautiful environment existed in the Midwest, let alone a couple hours away from home!
If we had more time, I would have loved to check out a few of the other nearby trails! Some of the other ones Getaway suggested were: Swan Creek Trail (13 minutes away), 48th Street Trailhead Wakazoo Hiking Trail (20 minutes away) and Van Burren Park Dunes Trail (50 minutes away).
If you’re interested in any of these trails, I’d suggest looking them up on AllTrails ahead of time to check if they’re the difficulty level you’re looking for. You can also find reviews, photos, and downloadable trail maps.
Lake Ct. Overlook
Unfortunately this overlook is now blocked by trees and it’s in a neighborhood without public parking, so you can skip this sight.
North Beach and South Beach
Just 20 minutes away from the Getaway outpost, you’ll find South Haven’s two popular Lake Michigan beaches: North Beach and South Beach.
We visited during a hot sunny Memorial Day Weekend, so the beaches were quite crowded when we were there. But it was still really lovely to check it out and walk along the beach.
The North Beach offers more space, so I’d recommend heading there first instead of the South Beach if you’re going to be visiting during a popular weekend as well. The North Beach also has an outdoor playground and swings.
Pro Tip: there isn’t any natural shade at these beaches, so bring an umbrella, hat, beach tent, or all of the above to protect yourself from the sun!
We had never heard of Biggby Coffee before, but turns out it’s a Michigan-based small coffee chain. We bought some iced drinks here during our time exploring South Haven. The iced matcha latte with almond milk was delicious.
If you’d like to check out a totally independent coffee shop, I’d suggest Bunde’s Bakery Cafe for your caffeine (or pastry!) fix.
More in South Haven
South Haven is an adorable beach town with cute shops, cafés, restaurants, wineries, breweries, and plenty of boating. If you’re staying at the Chicago Getaway Outpost for a longer time or want to make a stop on your way back home, you might enjoy checking out South Haven.
I will say that it’s not exactly a nature escape and can be quite busy in the summer, so if you want a more disconnected getaway, you could skip it and save it for another time.
What to Pack
As with any trip, your exact packing list is going to depend on your specific needs and planned activities. But I hope that this list can help you get started! (We took our trip during the summer, so you may have different needs for a cold weather trip.)
- Reusable water bottle (the tap water is drinkable/potable)
- Basic toiletries (each cabin already provides biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, and body wash)
- Bug spray (a MUST! we used Milk + Honey’s natural mosquito repellent)
- Citronella candle (you can find camping friendly candles packaged in aluminum)
- Aloe and/or itch relief lotion
- Sneakers and/or hiking boots depending on the time of year
- Backpack if you’re going on a hike or bike ride
- Clothes that you would wear hiking and/or camping
- Longer socks (yes, even in summer if you’re hiking in grassy areas, since there is the risk of ticks)
- Swimwear and beach towel if you want to go swimming (Getaway provides the bath towels)
- Blanket for outside and/or inside depending on the weather
- Slippers or flip flops for inside the cabin
- Pajamas or loungewear
- Food storage containers for storing leftovers and/or packing lunches for hikes
- Books (Getaway provides a collection of books as well)
- A journal + pen or knitting gear or anything else you like to do on a slow weekend
Food and Cookware
We were able to cook 100% of our meals at our Getaway cabin. Here are some tips!
The mini fridge is decently sized for a two to three night stay but isn’t huge, so just bring enough for the weekend. There is no freezer, so don’t bring anything that has to stay frozen.
Pro Tip: For some inspiration, check out Getaway’s Campfire Cooking Recipes ahead of your trip!
We cooked everything over the firepit or on the camping stove we packed. You could also use the electric stovetop they provide inside, but it was such nice weather when we went on our Getaway, we wanted to cook everything outside.
Getaway provides the essentials like plates, bowls, silverware and cutting knives, a cutting board, pot, pan, wine opener, lighter, and wooden cooking utensils along with dish soap, dish towels, and a sponge.
They also have salt, pepper, sugar, and olive oil, though the oil and sugar are in small plastic packages, so you might want to bring your own to minimize waste.
Getaway also has some provisions available for purchase. At our location, we had coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and a s’mores package.
I brought my own loose leaf tea and tea steeper since I am quite partial to Earl Gray, but we used the s’mores set during our stay. It wouldn’t feel like a real camping experience without s’mores, afterall!
The s’mores package comes with exactly enough ingredients to make four s’mores: eight graham crackers, four chocolate squares, and four vegan marshmallows. Since we were just staying two nights, the package was quite convenient so we didn’t overbuy ingredients and end up wasting food.
Roasting marshmallows slowly over the fire took me back to some of my favorite childhood memories. And I loved showing this tradition to my husband who’s from Germany and hadn’t done campfire s’mores before. This was definitely a highlight for us, and for just $5, it’s sort of a must!
(Note: I am mostly plant-based but make some exceptions occasionally. If you’re 100% vegan, you will want to bring your own chocolate for s’mores!)
Lastly in terms of packing tips, I would suggest using a smaller suitcase or duffle bag if you’re able to. As to be expected in a tiny cabin, there isn’t a ton of space for a bunch of suitcases. You can always leave a few extras (like blankets or bulky jackets) in your car.
Final Thoughts on Getaway
Each Getaway outpost will be slightly different, but there are many aspects that are the same. In essence, Getaway wants to make it as accessible, convenient, and enjoyable to disconnect from work and technology and escape into nature.
As they explain on their website, Getaway Outposts “are designed to be more than a destination, but a way to create distance from the relentless demands of work, schedules, and technology.”
After my experience on a Getaway, I would say that they nailed this mission!
My husband and I both loved our time at Getaway Barber Creek. It was truly relaxing, rejuvenating, and restorative. I only wish we could have stayed longer! (Seriously on the way back, I was thinking about the next weekend we could make time to escape there again…)
I hope that this review helped you decide if Getaway is right for you and gave you a useful overview of what to expect on a Getaway trip.
Curious to try it out? You can book your Getaway here.
Getaway Discount Code
Last but certainly not least, if you decide to book your own Getaway adventure, use the code CONSCIOUSLIFE for $25 off your booking at any location!