Want to Travel But Still Feel Weird? Book a Vacation House in the Middle of Nowhere

From 440-acre Joshua Tree estates to $69-a-night Airstream trailers full of horny ghosts (probably), there’s something out there for everyone.

May 6 2021, 5:24pm

Don’t get us wrong. We’re really excited to lick each other’s foreheads again, and can’t wait to double dip in the fondue pot with our vaccinated lovers. Yet, for as much time as we’ve spent alone during quar, we’re still excited to find an isolated vacation house this summer—a retreat from the razzle dazzle of dense city life. 

As the CDC relaxes travel guidelines for vaccinated Americans, and other countries follow suit, we’re making a long short-list of all the places we’ve dreamt of going, but had to put on the backburner. Many of us are dipping our toe in the water by planning intimate weekend getaways with our boos or friend crews and enjoying some time away from our TVs and tablets. We have a hankering to find a mid-century house in the desert and stargaze in a ochre turtleneck. We would very much like to find a French troglodyte cave dwelling to become one with. Don’t get us wrong—we still want to dog pile in a Las Vegas hotel room and do poppers at The Chocolate Lounge. But sometimes, you need less noise. Sometimes you have to collect yourself, before you wreck yourself. (And we will very much be wrecking ourselves.)

Your money can go far, and a lot of different ways, when you travel to (relative) middle-of-nowhere stays. Especially if you know how to stretch it. We suggest getting creative and gathering up some vaxxed friends and embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime Italian castle stay in late-August (not as expensive as you’d think). Or, find a cabin on the East Coast, and finally learn to whittle. Go to a Southern treehouse and throw Swarovski crystals at unsuspecting humans (not that there will be many). Ultimately, you've just got to get a vaccination carrying case, some fresh KN95s, and choose your own adventure. Just make sure you have that offline GPS app first. 

God, we love an A-frame

...and this one is pretty affordable. There’s no A/C, but that’s OK. You didn’t come to the woods for the indoor ventilation; you came to Jackson County, North Carolina to be amongst the splendors of waterfalls and Disney squirrels. “[You’re] 25 minutes to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” say the hosts, “as well as hiking and waterfalls. There is a huge deck, picnic table, charcoal grill and great views of the mountains.”

$100/night; sleeps up to two on Airbnb 

A 1950s desert homestead cabin

We're very ready for the coyote howling, gila monster charm of this Joshua Tree homestead cabin. Sip your whiskey juice box (is that a thing yet?) in a giant Adirondack chair by a cactus to fulfill your long-standing, Sigourney-Weaver-in-Holes fantasy. 

$189/night; sleeps up to 2 on Vrbo

This Southern treehouse

Sleep among the birds in this Walhalla, South Carolina treehouse “just minutes from Stumphouse Tunnel and Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park, Issaqueena Falls, [and] white water rafting,” says Deborah, your kindly host with a 4.99 star rating. We don’t really know what those places are, but they sound very luxury Country Bears-adjacent and we love the idea of a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

$240/night; sleeps up to 2 on Airbnb

We’re coming to Montana, Kanye

We’ve been meaning to make it to Montana, and this cottage—–which was made “for fisherman and photographers''—–gives you as much of a panoramic view of Big Sky Country as you could want to feel truly isolated. (But if you *do* crave a little city, the town is just two miles away?) It could sleep up to five people at under $20 a head per night, so stay for a month to really, actually have a brain break, and get that perfect Nat Geo shot/finally film the music video/learn to speak Pronghorn. There’s no better, high- drama backdrop for the next season of My Pandemic Life. 

$99/night; sleeps up to 5 on Airbnb

Film a tasteful, Danish horror movie (in Upstate New York)

That’s what mid-century-style glass homes in the woods are for, especially in Hudson Valley, New York. This sexy rectangle was designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, and has beautiful views of the area, which is full of towns to explore (and go antiquing in), like Beacon and Kingston, once you’ve grown tired of pensively looking out the windows (you won’t). Plus, it's big enough for everyone in your most active group chat. 

$1,326/night; sleeps up to 8 on Plum Guide

This Vermont cabin is perfect for you and your six dogs

This is where all aging Deadheads and Aphishionados deserve to lay their weary, fried, Hacky Sack feet: an off-the-grid cabin in West Bolton, Vermont. “For adventure seekers, it is the ideal home base,” say the 4.91 rated hosts, “Well-maintained hiking trails surround the area. We are minutes from the Long Trail, renowned rock climbing, beautiful swimming holes, kayaking, fishing, golfing, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.”

$148/night; sleeps up to 2 on Airbnb

You’re an air sign, aren’t you?

We’re a little afraid of you. Vacations aren’t exactly a time for rest, as much as they are a time to be in competition with yourself (and your nerves) by finding a spot to camp for the night in Carlsbad, California, that is quite literally dangling above the earth. We know that’s a tried-and-true camping thing, but it’s still pretty bonkers. Gather up the best, Predator-worthy camping gear of the season. Bring a friend as a surprise (tell them it’s a cliffhanger). Enjoy the lake, the trees, and the pre-existing, well-hung tent. 

$30/night; sleeps up to 4 on Airbnb

A cabin in Forks, Washington

[Cues ‘Twilight’ theme song.]

$104/night; sleeps up to 4 on Airbnb

This vintage Airstream by a California ghost mining town

And it’s only $69 a night, so maybe a bunch of horny Old West ghosts live there? It has always been a greasy summer fantasy of ours to spend some quality time in a vintage trailer in a desert town. Darwin, California, which sits at an elevation of 4,750 feet, does a nice job. Your hosts also speak Dutch, English, French, and Spanish, and one of them is an artist “so you will see many of her art pieces on the property and can peek in the studio.”

$69/night; sleeps up to 2 on Airbnb

This French cave house

They call them troglodyte dwellings, they’re thousands of years old, and there are a whole bunch of them in the wino region of the Loire Valley. Hole up (sorry) here in Lussault-sur-Loire (by Tours, about two hours from Paris) with the rest of your knock off Flintstones crew for a week of anjou sippin,’ baguette munching, and trying hard (to no avail) to digest all that cheese. 

$114/night; sleeps up to 4 on Airbnb

An Italian castle

Have you ever seen vintage pictures of Sophia Loren at her Roman Villa? Have you ever recreated them at your own castle in Umbria, Italy? Well. No time like the present, my sexy Strega Nona. Come with a group of intimate and stylish buds, and plan a dramatic dinner party with blacks candles, goblets, and errant pomegranates. 

$1,028/ night; sleeps up to 13 guests at Airbnb

“I come here to think sometimes.”

Plum Guide is the new, aesthetically pleasing Airbnb competitor that curates the bejeezus out of its international homes, so that you get only the most eyeball-licking, luxurious listings, such as this Joshua Tree, California home that is making us want to start a commune. It’s on a 440-acre private ranch with sweeping views of the desert, has a sunken pool, hot tub, and the general sense that Tom Ford could swing by in a suit, at any minute, to borrow a cup of cocaine. 

$4,207/night; sleeps up to 4 on Plum Guide

This entire island

YOLO. Belize just opened up for travel, so if you bag a date with Bill Gates on Raya (or whatever the Windows version of Raya will inevitably be called), make him fly you and at least two dozen of your vaccinated besties to this island in Placencia. 

$2,000/night; sleeps up to 28 on Vrbo

Did you know Iceland is open to vaxxed Americans?

And anyone else with that golden vaccine card. We’ve written a whole elf-filled guide on how to visit Iceland now that they’re opening up to tourists, from renting the car to chasing the Northern Lights. You can bet your sweet rassinn this Reykjavik home on Vrbo (remember them? They preceded Airbnb, and still have better cancellation policies on some of the same listings). It’s most definitely on our list of places to unwind and steam les pores after wild pony chasing. It comes with its own 18th-century-style sauna!

$464/night; sleeps up to 6 on Vrbo

See you when… we see you. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. VICE may receive a small commission if you buy through the links on our site.


Travel, DESERT, Vacation, Camping, Airbnb, plum guide, vrbo

like this
Airbnb Wants You to Stay at This 5,850-Acre Pad While Its Owner Is on Everest
The Best Last-Minute Labor Day Vacation Rentals, ‘Cause We All Need a Break
The Best Airbnbs for Fall Leaf Gazing Your Pumpkin-Spiced Heart Out
Rent These Homes by Famous Architects for Your Unhinged Weekend Getaway
The Wildest Houses You Can Rent in Upstate New York
3 Rad Trips for Under $800
This High-Tech Camping Gear Will Make You Feel Like You're in 'Predator'
Vaxxed? Iceland Actually Wants You to Come Be a Tourist