Tree Houses, Yurts, Barns, and Domes—Vacationing Off the Grid While Staying Connected in 2021

Photo: Stocksy/Tari Gunstone
If you've wished you could move to a secluded treehouse at least once in 2020, you're not alone. Airbnb's newly-released travel report, "How Airbnb and Travelers are Redefining Travel in 2021," indicates that the past year has altered the very definition of "vacation." And come next year, the ongoing fight against COVID-19 will continue to alter how travelers choose their home (yurt, barn, or dome) away from home.

The survey, commissioned by Airbnb (conducted by ClearPath Strategies), asked 1,010 adults in the U.S. how their travel criteria had changed in the time of the pandemic, and the results were clear: Many intend to work remotely in a room with a view come 2021. Eighty-three percent of respondents to the study said they were in favor of relocating their remote work situation (many with children in tow). And with more folks retreating to suburban or rural areas from big cities, travelers aren't looking to book Manhattan penthouses or a bungalows in Los Angeles. Instead, people are seeking remote locations with plenty of space to spread out, take a breath of fresh air, and get lost in natural landscapes.

"On Airbnb, people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (two plus week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to immersive natural surroundings and wide-open spaces," writes Airbnb. According to the company's data, the most popular locales for a mid-length escape include Park City, Utah; Truckee, California; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Durham, North Carolina; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; Richmond, Virginia; Greenville, South Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Photo: Airbnb / Hendersonville, North Carolina, United States

As people choose chiller vacation spots with more than six feet of distance between them and their closest neighbor, however, Airbnb predicts that domestic travelers will look for novelty in other ways, namely the shape and features of borrowed homes. "Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays on Airbnb," says the company. "The top trending space types among U.S. travelers next year include a variety of spaces known for using less energy and producing less waste." A cramped room in a shared apartment just won't cut it for everyone in 2021; travelers want treehouses, yurts, barns, cycladic houses (homes with uniquely thick walls that guard against strong winds and extreme heat), and domes.

Photo: Airbnb / Cottage Grove, Minnesota, United States

For many travelers, switching locations isn't just about a change in view or the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in tree, though. Often, the move is about finding oneself geographically closer to family. "2020 has made the craving for fundamental human connection very real, and this resonates in how people are thinking about travel in 2021. In fact, relocating permanently or temporarily to live close to family is favored by 85 percent of survey respondents," writes Airbnb. Many people are using Airbnb as a way to move closer to the locales and people they know best in a time that's fraught with uncertainty.

Still, Airbnb's research shows that people are still imagining a time post-COVID-19 when the world is once again their proverbial oyster. "When the pandemic is over and travel restrictions begin to lift, travelers may be heading to vibrant cultural hubs, idyllic island clusters, and ethereal natural wonders first," says Airbnb. The top-searched destinations include Bogotá, Colombia; Seoul, South Korea; and Hampton, London. Even if no one with a U.S. passport is (likely) going anywhere international anytime soon, who say you can't wander just a little?

Wondering how safe it is to travel? Here's an ER doctor's answer:

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