Travel

What It’s Like to Stay in Those Tiny Cabins All Over Instagram

No Wi-Fi, no TV, no cell service. Isn’t this how horror movies start?

getaway cabin
Photo courtesy of Getaway

“I’m spending the night in a tiny cabin in the woods with no Wi-Fi—alone.” 

Silence. My husband looked bemused, and rightfully so. We both know my idea of a “nature getaway” is a dip in the pool. In the seven years I’ve lived in Atlanta, I’ve driven up to the mountains of north Georgia only a small handful of times, and usually for wine. But, after months of being isolated at home, a change of scenery felt paramount. 

For about five years now, ever-so-slight variations of the same photo have popped up in my Instagram: A flannel-clad woman gazes wistfully through a massive picture window—coffee mug in hand, open book resting atop crisp white sheets—out at the serene trees beyond. Not for me, I thought, and kept scrolling. It wasn’t until the pandemic, though, that I suddenly longed to be that woman.

cabin exterior
Photo courtesy of Getaway

This is the cozy marketing scheme behind Getaway, which rents out 200 square-foot eco cabins in 12 remote sites around the country. Ironically, it’s the constant distraction of our social media feeds that helped inspire the idea for Getaway, according to its founders, two Harvard grads who wanted to create the “anti-Facebook.” Their campsites are strategically positioned within one to two hours of major cities like Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles. Unplugging, disconnecting, and dare I say it, getting away is the whole point. 

The tiny cabins have a retro minimalist charm: In addition to the clutch picture window, there’s a Queen-sized bed, kitchenette, small dining table, and a bathroom. Outside is equipped with a grill, picnic chairs, fire pit and firewood. It’s not exactly roughing it, but three crucial things are missing: a television, Wi-Fi, and cell service. 

It sounds like the makings of a horror movie (Getaway encourages you to literally store your phone in a lockbox for the duration of your trip… but then, where do all the Instagrams come from?). But unlike so many in the travel and hospitality industry, Getaway’s business model has only gotten smarter in pandemic times.

cabin outdoors
Photo courtesy of Getaway

I know I’m not alone when I say my days have become the same routine, on loop, over and over. And as the primary caretaker of our very lively 20-month-old, I never get to completely shut down. I’m always on call to meet the whims and demands of others—or alternatively, scrolling through one garbage fire after another in my news feed. One night all to myself in an isolated cabin where nothing could reach me—physically, or over the phone—sounded heavenly.

When I arrived at Getaway Chattahoochee, located about two hours north of Atlanta in Suches, Georgia, I discovered that you’re actually not that alone. A key code on the cabin door allows you to “check in” without interacting with anybody. But there are about 30 cabins on the Chattahoochee campground and your neighbors are just close enough to hear you, should you cry out for help. Still, that picture window is perfectly angled so that all you see is nature. It was, indeed, very cozy. I couldn’t wait to unwind for the next 20 hours.

If you stay in a Getaway house it’s best to come prepared with activities. I loaded up with a book, a journal, even a sketch pad if things got really desperate, but Getaway also supplies guests with a few books if you forget. If it’s the ‘gram you’re after, bring a friend to help get the shot. (May my futile selfie attempts never come to light).

The highlight of my trip? Nothing. As in, the fact that I literally did nothing. One could go hiking (there are plenty of trails nearby), but I was content to wrap myself in a shawl and just roast marshmallows by the campfire (that I built myself!). When the familiar feeling of panic gripped my chest and yelled, “Isn’t there something you should be doing?” I reached for my phone before remembering, there’s no service. So, no. 

When the rain came, I sequestered myself inside, stared out that big beautiful window as the sky changed colors, and eventually drifted off to sleep. The next morning I hit the road back home, refreshed, ready for the inbox and toddler that were waiting for me.

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Lia Picard is an Atlanta-based freelance writer whose work appears in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast, and more. You can keep up with her daily adventures and projects on Instagram.
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