Hi, I’m a big fan of technology. I use it to wake up, get work done, keep up with friends and fam, run my side hustle, listen to music, watch TV, track my finances/food diary/workouts—hell, I even use it to help sculpt my abs (it’s a treatment called Emsculpt that I get at Sperling Dermatology, and yes, it works).
But this fall, girlfriend had had ~enough~. I felt so overworked, overstimulated, and outstretched by the constant pings of my well-connected life. I wanted to chuck my phone into the Hudson River and let all those DMs, texts, Slacks, and emails be forever left unread.
So when I got the opportunity to spend a weekend in the woods with the sole purpose of unplugging and spending some QT with my boyfriend, courtesy of Getaway, I was ALL IN. (Replacing an iPhone is way more expensive anyway.)
Getaway has modern cabin and vacation rentals in the middle of picturesque nature spots just outside most major U.S. cities (Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, LA, NY, Pittsburgh + Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, D.C.). If you have any tiny house living dreams, you’ll legit drool over these cute lil cabins.
What they lack in cell service, wifi, and modern tech, they more than make up for in secluded views (that’ll make you feel sooo zen) super comfy amenities (including a warm shower, toilet, and plush bed), total privacy, and—best of all—zero distractions from the outside world.
We booked our house online for a 2-night stay in Mid-November in Catskills West—which is about a two-hour drive from NYC. Leading up to the trip, Getaway sent super helpful emails about what’s already included in the cabin (think: snacks for purchase just like a hotel mini bar, shower stuff and bath towels, firewood and matches and all those outdoorsy goods, oh, and even some books and playing cards), what to pack (warm, durable clothes for being outside and chill leisurewear for inside), and even recipes for camping-like meals we could make while we were there.
1. Bring your own food and booze.
The day before our trip, Getaway texted me with our cabin’s name (“Frieda”… s’cute), address, and key code for the locked door. Just like AirBnB, there’s no one around to greet us when we arrived (although their 24-hour support line responded immediately to our texts when our key code didn’t work right away).
Before we picked up our rental car, we hit up the grocery and liquor stores for necessities: The cabin is equipped with a small stove top, pots, pans, and dishes to make things like bacon and eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and chili for dinner. But, we had to bring the two bottles of wine, one bottle of port, one bottle of champs, and mini “nips” of Bailey’s for our hot chocolates. Hey, no judging, mmkay?
By the time we got to the cabin, it was about 8 p.m. and pitch black (pretty scary, not gonna lie). The cabin itself was situated on old camping grounds that have been taken over by Getaway and its fleet of modern tiny houses. There were about a dozen in this lot, all spaced out far enough for max privacy, but close enough that we weren’t completely removed from civilization. So yes, we felt deep in the woods.
Once we made our way inside, there wasn’t much to do besides turn the heat all the way up, nosh on Swedish Fish, have some wine, and draw the blinds so we could fall asleep.
2. Wake up to nature.
The most Insta-worthy attraction to Getaway’s cabins by far is the ginormous window by the bed that made us feel as if we were sleeping outside. (But TG we weren’t, because it’s flipping cold out.) The view was pretty spectacular to wake up to, even though there were no leaves on the trees and barely any wildlife visible except for the chirping birds. But what we could see—our private picnic table, chairs, and fire pit out back, a trickling stream beyond that, and endless forest beyond that—was so impressively peaceful.
It almost made me forget about my fear of bears. But I’m happy to report that no creatures stopped by to ruin our serene, unplugged vacay. (FWIW, the welcome packet in our cabin explained exactly what to do in the event of a bear sighting. “Outstretch your arms and make noise to identify yourself.” Riiiight….).
3. Have breakfast without any phubbing whatsoever.
Besides the FM radio (which connects to Spotify via Bluetooth on your phone), there’s nothing left to do but talk, baby!
So here’s where I warn you against booking a Getaway with someone who you aren’t totally feeling the communication vibes with. I can imagine this experience going terrrribly wrong (oh, the screaming matches) if you guys aren’t in a solid spot. Remember, this is just like camping (but cuter), so you’re essentially forced to be present with one another, create your own entertainment, and pass the time with just each other’s company.
In this way, even the act of making breakfast becomes different. No one’s scrolling through Insta or checking emails while the bacon cooks and your instant coffee (which is surprisingly good?) brews. Tim and I talked, bopped around to the music, and made fun of the spaceship-like self-cleaning (and compostable?) toilet. Seriously, it’s a wild thing to behold.
4. Take a hike.
Freshly fed, showered, and dressed, it was time for us to head outside and scope this place out. In the welcome packet, there’s a map of nearby hiking trails, which we found to be high-key convenient. Not so ideal: All the leaves on the ground made it super hard to see where exactly these trails, um, were. With no markings or signs, we started to venture down what we thought could be a trail, only to spook ourselves out and head back. Like, what if we got legit lost in the woods? I was not prepared to go down in a Blair Witch-style horror scenario.
Instead, we stuck to the roads and came across a horse-riding farm. All the horses were outside, noshing on hay as they checked us out, and vice versa. IDK, felt like we had a moment.
5. Read that book that you’ve been wanting to for, like, ever.
Guys, after the hike, I was able to read a book. For fun. For over an hour. In full, uninterrupted glory. I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve been able to do that. I almost cried with happiness.
6. Make a fire in your private fire pit.
I quickly learned that my man is a pyromaniac. His love for our living room fireplace was multiplied by a hundred while making us a fire outside on our own secluded camping grounds.
After the flames got going, I helped him scour the woods for more kindling. Turns out, watching pine cones and tree branches scorch up in the hot heat is a mesmerizing way to pass the time. Our fire was so warm, we sat and talked for about three hours until the sun completely set, and the only lights we could see were those in our cabin. Time to head inside.
7. Make up your own drinking games.
We heated up some chili for dinner, and then… what? We couldn’t watch TV, we couldn’t go out to the bar to meet friends for drinks, we couldn’t aimlessly hit links or look up stuff on our phones… so we started playing cards, which (obvi) transformed into a drinking game. And since no drinking games exist for only two people, we made up our own. And it was effing fantastic:
How to play:
*Play the card game war
Guess This Throwback
How to play:
*Open Spotify/Apple Music and search for playlists by year
*Play the first 30 seconds of each song, and the other player has to guess the artist and/or name of the song
*If they get it right, you drink; Wrong, they drink
Did we lose our damn minds out in the woods? Go officially stir crazy? Get way too drunk? The jury is still out, but we had so much fun that we fell asleep with some of the smaller windows open and the big ass window’s blind NOT drawn, so we could see and hear basically everything that was stirring outside the whole night. But by then, we were ~one with nature~.
8. Slowly transition back to real life.
I didn’t realize how badly I needed this unplugged escape until the morning we had to leave. With checkout at 11 a.m., I was feeling like I wasn’t sure if I could spend a third full DAY in our cabin. (I guess tiny house living isn’t for me?!) Still, I definitely knew I wasn’t yet ready to go back to my highly teched-out life.
As we drove away from Frieda in our rental car, Tim and I said two things: One, we have a list of particular friends who would absolutely LOVE this experience. Two, we would try to bring some parts of our Getaway experience with us back to real life. Meaning: We’ve been trying to leave our phones in the bedroom during dinner and on weekends for a few hours so we can just talk, read, or simply “be” with each other (and keep the TV off too).
It doesn’t have quite the same feel as being out in the middle of nowhere, but that’s fine… just means we’ll have to go back in the spring.