The New Escapism: Isolationist Travel

Resorts consisting of stand-alone guest quarters, from the high-end Bluefields Bay Villas in Jamaica that come with their own chef (villas start at $980) to the glamping tents at Collective Vail in Colorado (from $249) and the budget-friendly tiny house rentals at Canoe Bay Escape Village in Wisconsin (from $125), say they are naturally configured for the Covid-19 travel era.

“The homes are not near others, you have little to zero contact with other people and you’re in a wilderness setting where you can decompress,” said Dan Dobrowolski, the owner of Canoe Bay Escape Village, adding that most summer weekends are sold out.

In May, moderators of the Facebook page Solo Travel Society asked their 260,000-some members, “Has the pandemic changed your outlook on how you will travel solo going forward?”

Within three hours, nearly 200 responses ran the gamut from fear of getting the virus on a flight to impatience with travel restrictions. But most hewed in the resilient direction of Chris Engelman of Ottawa, Ill., who wrote, “Traveling makes me happy. I’m going to continue to live a life of joy.”

“People are looking at road trips in your bubble, in your car,” said Janice Waugh, the founder of the website who also runs Solo Travel Society on Facebook where members are also talking about solo camping and self-guided walking and cycling trips.

Solo travelers often join tours, and companies like Tauck have catered to them by dropping single supplements on some trips. But with trips abroad on hold because of border restrictions, and group trips a potential health threat, Audley Travel, a custom tour operator, said the private trips it has designed for solos have doubled since mid-March, indicating a shift away from group departures.

For summer and fall, Caren Kabot, the founder of Solo Escapes, plans to replace small group trips to places like Morocco with weekend trips in the rural Northeast where many of her clients can drive until they get comfortable with the safety of air travel. Hiking, boating and culinary activities may be on the agenda.

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