Tiny House, Big Trip
Tiny House, Big Trip
You probably know that roadside assistance is one of the most popular features of AAA membership. Millions of calls come in to AAA offices each year from members needing help with their cars, trucks and motorcycles. But as one AAA member found out, AAA technicians can assist with a lot more than just the typical disabled vehicle.
Meet Cece. She’s a recently retired Buffalonian who loves to travel and stay active. As her career came to a close, Cece decided that she would escape Buffalo’s infamous winters by volunteering at national parks in warmer climates.
But where to stay? Living on a budget, Cece explored various housing options before making her choice, a small house, or tiny home, built on a trailer bed that she could tow to each destination.
“I decided that the tiny house was a way that I could support myself on a lower income if I needed to,” Cece said.
So Cece had a tiny home built — a 13 foot, 12,00 pound wooden home on wheels crafted by Ed Ryan of Syracuse Tiny Homes.
With her mobile lodging arrangements secure, Cece rented a truck to haul her tiny home and took the 2,400 mile trip in late 2018 bound for Tucson, Ariz.
SERVICE CALL 1
All was going according to plan until shortly after Cece's arrival at Saguaro National Park in Tuscon. That's when Cece noticed a flat tire on the tiny home's trailer. Fortunately for Cece, she had previously added RV/Motorcycle coverage to her AAA membership.
For $35, the RV/Motorcycle rider extends road service benefits to recreational vehicles, including motorcycles, motor homes, pickup trucks with campers, travel trailers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, and in Cece's case, tiny homes on mobile trailers.
A special order was placed for the spare tire. After the spare arrived, AAA met up with Cece to change the tire and she was back on the move.
SERVICE CALL 2
Cece's next call to AAA wasn't for her truck or for her trailer, it was for her bicycle. AAA Western and Central New York members enjoy bicycle roadside coverage, allowing the member and their bike to be transported home or to a service area in the event of a breakdown.
Having just recently learned that AAA will cover her bicycle, Cece was put at ease when she realized her bike had a flat tire while out riding in the park. She did find it humorous, though, when a full sized AAA flatbed tow truck arrived to transport her comparatively small bike.
“They came with a crazy long towing truck that could have towed my tiny house,” Cece said. “They were really amiable. The driver was with someone who was training them. They took me to the closest bike store and I bought some puncture resistant tires.”
AAA members should note that bicycle assistance is only available outside club territory when available, or reimbursement will be offered for covered services.
CALL FOR TRIPTIK
Cece's next interaction with AAA was a quick and easy TripTik Travel Planner request. With her return to Western New York just a few weeks away, Cece mapped her road trip with a TripTik, complete with pit stops and places to visit along the way.
TripTiks are available as a paper map through mail order and branch offices, and the can also be accessed online and through the AAA mobile app. The app highlights AAA-diamond rated hotels and restaurants, directions, attractions, gas prices and more.
SERVICE CALL 3
The journey back to Western New York was interrupted during a stop in Hatch, New Mexico - known as the chili capital of the world.
"I have to admit that I am a sucker for roadside attractions," Cece said. "It was a thankful thing that I stopped when I did at the one and only intersection in Hatch… As I was snapping some of the shots, I could hear air escaping out of one of the tires of the flatbed on which my tiny house is built."
CeCe reached out to AAA Western and Central New York, which dispatched a AAA approved towing service to Cece's location. She said her technician went beyond the call of duty to get her back on the road safely.
"My local chapter was able to send an angel of mercy - literally a sweetheart named Angel Herrera from Garfield’s Garage who swapped out the flat for my spare," Cece said. Herrera even suggested a great place for Cece to get breakfast!
SERVICE CALL 4
After a successful trip back to the Buffalo area, Cece returned her rental truck and prepared herself to acclimate to non-tiny home living. There was just one problem - the car she had left parked back at home had a dead battery.
Cece called AAA and the AAA Mobile Battery Service was dispatched to her home. The AAA technician tested her car's battery and charged it enough that Cece was able to drive it to a nearby service station. The AAA technician even gave Cece a ride home from the service station.
"The driver went out of his way to drive me back from the service station since my plans to return via bicycle were threatened by rain," Cece said.
AAA's technicians rose to the challenge when servicing her tiny house trailer in Arizona, her car back in Buffalo, and even when transporting her bike for service.
Cece said AAA's reliable service anywhere in the country put her mind at ease as she traveled alone in unfamiliar territory.
"I’ve had a lot of anxiety about solo driving across the country, especially as a woman," she said. "(My AAA membership) gave me peace of mind. It really helped me feel much more secure. "
Are you going on a road trip this summer? Upgrade your coverage before you go to get up to 200 miles of free towing.