Travel: Camping in shipping containers

Steve Stephens More Content Now
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Seth Britt’s dream might seem a bit unusual, as does the reality it became.

The Box Hop, however, is a beautiful, comfortable and even elegant cabin, despite (or because of?) being constructed from three intermodal shipping containers, the familiar 40-foot-long steel boxes carried by semitractor-trailers or on ships.

The Box Hop is a family getaway and rental cabin built by Britt and his wife Emily. The structure is set on 18 verdant acres in the midst of the Hocking Hills, Ohio.

Although the family has and will use the cabin for getaways, The Box Hop has already been reserved by paying guests for every weekend for the next six months, Seth Britt said.

And did I mention it’s built from three shipping containers?

"There’s nothing like it in the Midwest," said Britt, 29, with a bit of understandable pride.

The Britts live in Columbus’ Westgate neighborhood. Seth Britt works for a logistics company, so he knows something about shipping. But his unusual dream began in college when he had a job on a loading dock filling shipping containers with merchandise.

"I could hear the rain hitting the top, and I was just kind of hit with the thought, 'This is bigger than the house I grew up in, and it’s built to last 75 years.'"

"I guess we both have a free-spirited and adventurous side," said Emily, 31, a real-estate agent.

The Britts, who have two toddlers and a baby born last week, had invested in real estate before. But the couple was having trouble finding another investment property in Columbus at a reasonable price, Emily said.

"Then Seth said, ‘What about the shipping-container dream?’" Emily said. "We prayed about it and talked about it. It actually was really easy to jump on board. It’s been kind of crazy and a whirlwind, but I guess that’s how we run."

"I had envisioned a simple hunting cabin, with maybe a sleeping bag on the floor," Britt said. "But my wife got her hands on the project and worked her magic."

The couple bought the containers from brokers who arrange their sales. The used containers cost about $2,400 each delivered.

Emily’s father, who owns a construction company, advised the couple and helped get the containers in place at the site. The Britts also relied on local contractors, but did a lot of the work themselves.

"For seven months straight I was with the kids, working on paperwork, design, things that could be done remotely," Emily said. "Every spare moment he had he would spend doing the hands-on work there. He’d go straight from his day job to the property."

"Unfortunately, we had the most precipitation ever this year," Britt said.

A flash flood "floated one of these 9,600-pound containers 300 feet into my neighbor’s driveway," Britt said.

The containers had to be laboriously moved to a permanent site on a ridge, were they were bolted and welded together.

The project followed Hocking County building codes but didn’t require any special permits, Emily said.

Despite the wet weather, by December the work that had been started in the spring was finished. The project cost about $180,000, Britt said.

The Box Hop, which has a full kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms and sleeps eight, features a gas fireplace, rooftop patio and six-person hot tub among other amenities.

The 900-square-foot cabin rents through Airbnb for $200 per night on weekdays and $300 per night on weekends.

Steve Stephens can be reached at

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