Yurts, houseboats, tiny homes attract more travelers

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, American restlessness has reached a fever pitch, and travel fantasies are getting wilder and wackier.

That’s what we’ve gathered from recent data published by Airbnb. The home-and-vacation rental company shared insights gleaned from millions of user searches spanning 2019 to 2021, and interest in “quirky” rental properties has skyrocketed through the roof.

Bedrock Homestead in Utah. [Photo: Courtesy Airbnb]

Apparently, people are seeking places that differ dramatically from the patchwork of four-walled rooms we call “houses” and “apartment units,” in which many have been trapped for 17 months on end. They’re looking to trade city for country and sea; straight walls for curved walls, or no walls at all. Queries for yurts, huts, and islands are all up over 1,300%, topping the list of searches with the most massive growth. That’s followed by “earth houses,” a term for a dwelling that is literally built into the earth—into the side of a hill, perhaps, or even underground, with rock and soil acting as its walls and roof (think hobbit houses or caves).

Tiny homes, a burgeoning trend for years now, also rose in popularity, although not as much as other types of spaces (perhaps thanks to pandemic claustrophobia).

Here’s the full list:

  1. Yurts (1,701%)
  2. Islands (1,668%)
  3. Huts (1,379%)
  4. Earth houses (1,285%)
  5. Barns (1,068%)
  6. Farm stays (1,055%)
  7. Houseboats (1,015%)
  8. Tiny homes (791%)

According to Airbnb, nearly 70% of respondents to a survey said they wanted a new search filter for “unique stays,” and a quick stroll on the website shows it now has pages solely for “treehouses,” “castles,” “in a desert,” and more.

Treehouse in California. [Photo: Courtesy Airbnb]And to get you started on your journey to the perfect, weird vacation, Airbnb has also cobbled together a roundup of 16 one-of-a-kind properties ranging from a lighthouse in Alaska to a World War II train car in Tennessee to the hollowed-out insides of a six-ton potato in Idaho (more glamorous than it sounds).

Bon voyage—and don’t forget the bug spray!

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