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Can I Travel Over the Holidays If I Never Leave My Airbnb?

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 12/18/2020 Megan Spurrell
a house covered in snow in front of a forest: Come winter, few settings seem as romantic as curling up by the fire with a loved one. If you're in a gorgeous cabin in the woods, away from the stressors of everyday life, all the better. So if you're planning a Valentine's Day trip, celebrating an anniversary, or just looking for an excuse to spend a winter weekend away, these Airbnbs are the ideal backdrop to your romantic cabin getaway. With homes near Lake Tahoe, Asheville, British Columbia, and more, this mix of modern, rustic, and A-frame cabins offers something for everyone. And since each selection is run by an Airbnb Superhost, you'll rest easy knowing they have a rating of 4.8 or above, a record of zero cancellations, and at least a 90 percent response rate, meaning they'll get back to you ASAP. Here, our picks for the best homes for romantic cabin getaways.
All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. © Courtesy Airbnb

Come winter, few settings seem as romantic as curling up by the fire with a loved one. If you're in a gorgeous cabin in the woods, away from the stressors of everyday life, all the better. So if you're planning a Valentine's Day trip, celebrating an anniversary, or just looking for an excuse to spend a winter weekend away, these Airbnbs are the ideal backdrop to your romantic cabin getaway. With homes near Lake Tahoe, Asheville, British Columbia, and more, this mix of modern, rustic, and A-frame cabins offers something for everyone. And since each selection is run by an Airbnb Superhost, you'll rest easy knowing they have a rating of 4.8 or above, a record of zero cancellations, and at least a 90 percent response rate, meaning they'll get back to you ASAP. Here, our picks for the best homes for romantic cabin getaways.

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Facing a winter season in which we're advised against holiday travel and getting together with family, there’s a temptation to find, at the very least, a change of scenery. It can salve the pain of missing traditions and loved ones, but also ease cabin fever after enduring a pandemic that has kept us home for nearly a year. 

When I knew I wouldn’t be going home to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving, I gathered my partner and the three friends that make up our COVID pod, and booked a remote Airbnb that we could drive to. Our thinking? We would pick up groceries en route, and only leave the house to walk along a series of nearby hiking trails that we knew didn’t get many visitors.

But once we were home the following Monday, and I realized how many people had zigzagged across the country around Thanksgiving, I was left wondering if holing up in the cabin had been as responsible as I had thought. Looking ahead to Christmas and New Year’s, I’m not sure I would do it again—even if we could manage a trip perfectly confined to our car and rental home. (The first trip certainly taught me that every vacation requires more grocery runs and gas stops than you plan for.) Desperate for a clear answer, I called up Susan Hassig, a professor at Tulane University, and director of the school’s public health masters and epidemiology program, to ask what she thought about traveling to a rental home over the holidays.

“A month or two ago, I might have said, you know, that might be a reasonable plan,” says Hassig. But now she has concerns. “I think the key piece is, how good is your bubble? There's been a lot of bubble erosion.” When it comes to who is traveling, the safest group trip, she says, is made up of a single household. When we start talking about “bubbles,” which usually refer to a few friends or family members who do not live together, it gets iffy, especially as few people have totally restricted their social interactions like they did at the start of the pandemic. It only takes one hole to burst a bubble.

But even then, there are reasons why we’re seeing so many states enact travel restrictions discouraging any visitors from coming. California's new restrictions, for example, make it illegal for hotel and rental owners to host travelers through the end of the year—unless they know the guest will be self-quarantining for 14 days.

“Part of what is behind the states saying, “don't travel to our state,” is that their health care systems are overwhelmed, and they're worried you're going to wind up in the hospital,” says Hassig. Even if you don’t spread the virus to anyone, you yourself may fall ill—and then the destination will be forced to care for you. Intensive care units are currently nearing capacity across the U.S., according to The New York Times, which makes Hassig hesitant about travelers going into other communities for a getaway.

“It's particularly problematic for places that people envision as the idyllic getaway, you know, remote, less populous areas, even within a state that they live in,” says Hassig. “Those places, rural zones, or non-urban environments, are really, really crunched when it comes to health care services. Most do not have critical care units, they have very thin staffing margins, and they are already stressed.”

And about never leaving the rental: It’s just not realistic, says Hassig. Medical experts, and regions creating guidelines, know that—which is why they are discouraging all travel. “You may think you're in the woods isolated, but you're not. Because you're going to need to sustain yourself,” says Hassig. Wherever you go, you will have reasons you need to leave the house—including those you can’t predict—making it nearly impossible to create an impenetrable experience, both for you and the local community. And, while some travelers like to look at case numbers in a destination to determine their own risk, Hassig also cautions that cases numbers never reflect the complete number of cases.

In sum, “I really would encourage people to stay put, frankly,” says Hassig. "It is really not the time to travel in any way, shape or form. There was way too much movement over Thanksgiving.” 

Instead, she suggests focusing on celebrating at home. Invest your holiday travel money in decorating and “reshape your living environment into a different place.” A tangle of garland and a burning fire (even if it's via Netflix) can go a long way. (We’ve also rounded up 54 tips for making a holiday at home feel special this year, with ideas on what to eat, drink, and of course, decorate.)

While canceling your travel plans may feel like yet another sacrifice after a year of so many, we just have to hold off a little longer—the vaccine is on its way and, hopefully, we’re finally nearing the end of the pandemic. The last thing any of us wants to do is put ourselves—or others—at risk in the meantime. Suffice to say, I'll be staying right here in Brooklyn, and spending way too much on scented pine cones and top shelf gin for a festive, virtual cocktail hour with my family in California this Christmas. 

We're reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find all of our coronavirus coverage and travel resources here.

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