Distance vacations are the trend in 'safe' travel during COVID-19

Getting away from it all has a new meaning.

May 29, 2020, 4:01 AM

With the unofficial start of summer behind us and months before the kids go back to school -- or not -- many would-be-travelers with canceled plans are looking for ideas to travel safely.

"Safe" does not mean the same thing to all people: While one person might be comfortable in a campground because they have personal accommodations, another might find the campground itself too crowded for personal comfort.

RV off the beaten path

RV travel is appealing to a larger audience than before the pandemic shut down hotels and limited many travel options.

Harvest Hosts, a company that connects road trippers with unique overnight accommodations in the U.S. and Canada, said membership sign-ups are up 400% compared to this time last year.

PHOTO: Harvest Hosts connects RVers with off-the-beaten path host locations.
Harvest Hosts connects RVers with off-the-beaten path host locations.
Courtesy Harvest Hosts

"This is the fastest growth in the history of the company and it is directly because of COVID. RVing is uniquely situated as a way to safely travel this year," Joel Holland, the company's CEO, told "Good Morning America."

The company counts more than 1,000 options for overnights at museums, vineyards, farms and breweries. There's no charge to stay with the hosts but guests are encouraged to purchase their host's for-sale goods. Holland sees it as a way to support small businesses.

"Many of our wineries, for example, will drop purchases right outside of the RV," he said.


Treehouses are another option that's growing in popularity for travelers looking to distance themselves from others. Bolt Farm Treehouse is a collection of four luxury treehouses on 30 acres on Wadmalaw Island outside Charleston, South Carolina. The company switched from a nightly rate to month-long stay requirements since interest is so high.

PHOTO: The Charleston Treehouse.
The Charleston Treehouse.
Logan Simmons Photography

Other treehouse options: Edisto River Treehouses are a collection of three treehouses in the Lowcountry accessible only by a 13-mile canoe ride that departs once daily. It, too, has seen more interest this year than in the past.

PHOTO: Edisto River Treehouses.
Edisto River Treehouses.
Edisto River Treehouses

In Maine, the Hidden Pond resort will debut 10 treehouse accommodations in June. The resort restaurant offers private dining sheds to maximize social distance from other resort guests.

PHOTO: Hidden Pond Treehouses
Hidden Pond Treehouses.
Hidden Pond

Tiny houses and luxe cottages on big land

Vacations within driving distance are a popular option, according to online travel agent Travelocity, which said most accommodations are being booked within 100 miles of people's homes. For those in major metro areas like New York City, something like the A Tiny House Resort, which features nine tiny houses on 26 acres in the Catskills, might fit the bill.

PHOTO: A home at A Tiny House Resort.
A home at A Tiny House Resort.
A Tiny House Resort

Each features a kitchen, full bathroom, heat/air conditioning, TV, dedicated Wi-Fi and a private patio with a Weber barbecue grill and fire pit. The property has an onsite waterfall, kayaking, tubing as well as a pick your own garden, baby goats, ducks and chickens. Guests enjoy a daily goat walk, perfect for social distancing, with the resident turkey "Lucky" joining in.

PHOTO: A cottage at Cedar Lakes Estate.
A cottage at Cedar Lakes Estate.
Cedar Lakes Estate.

The Cedar Lakes Estate, located 90 miles from NYC, typically operates as a venue for weddings and corporate events. But given the pandemic, the property has pivoted to individual stays. The hotel’s 500 acres are made up of 18 individual cottages and there are no common lobbies, hallways or enclosed spaces. Contactless meals and drinks are included with each stay: breakfast delivered to your room each morning, a lunch box for a picnic anywhere on the grounds each afternoon and a special dinner each night.

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