Is ‘being bored’ the next travel trend for millennials?
For people who are tired of cities, technology and work
Only boring people get bored. That’s what I was always told. So my brain struggled to compute when I read the instruction manual, enticingly entitled What Now?, in the forest cabin where my girlfriend and I were staying for the next two nights.
“Be bored,” it instructed me, among other do’s and don’ts.
We had just arrived at our Getaway cabin, located somewhere in the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York – a stop-off on our drive from New York City to Kingston, Ontario.
Upstate New York is a part of the world neither of us had visited before, but I felt in familiar territory when I stumbled across Getaway’s finely curated website a few weeks earlier. I’ve stayed in enough yurts, pods and gypsy caravans to know the drill: I’ll pay over the odds to sleep in someone’s garden, chill the wine in the mini-sink because the mini-fridge is too small, crap in a glorified outhouse and then carefully recount the experience to my friends when I return home to avoid using the word “glamping”.But there’s a catch when it comes to Getaway. You only receive the location one week before arrival. When you book, all you know is that your tiny forest cabin is two hours from New York City.
Obviously, I thought. First it was Secret Cinema, then secret holiday companies like Surprise Me, and now secret glamping. I’ve got it. Go on then. Lead me blindfolded to the compost loo.
But as I flicked through What Now? and surveyed the cabin, it was clear something different was going on here.
A lockbox instructed me to abandon my phone for the duration of the stay. There are no mirrors, I discovered. The survival manual encourages you to avoid e-mails, work, competing, planning. And – interestingly, paradoxically – suggests being bored.
Getaway is a retreat for people who are tired of cities, technology, work – probably all three – and want to escape from it all. The secretive element is to put people off overplanning their stay, and to simply enjoy the peace of the cabin.When you arrive the space draws you in with its tiered layout. A small kitchen steps up to a living area with a sunken dining table, and then one level up there’s a king-sized mattress framed against the grand attraction – a giant window, looking out on a cityscape of pine trees. On the other side of the kitchen, a bathroom is kitted out with a hot shower and (hallelujah!) a futuristic dry-flush e-loo.
That first evening we worked our way through the What Now? booklet, full of riddles and poems about the woods, and a list of questions to ask each other. We had brought our own fresh ingredients to cook on the hob, but for straight-from-the-office arrivees there is an emergency supply of gluten-free pasta, vegetable and quinoa sauce, organic oatmeal granola (you get the gist) available to buy.We were being A-star Getawayers – but then we broke a few rules. An aux cable hung temptingly from the radio, prompting me to remove my phone from the “lock box” and plug it in for some music. On flight mode, I promise. A deck of cards also lured us into breaking the cardinal sin of competitiveness.As day turned to night we sat cross-legged in front of our forest television – the view of tree trunks interwoven by a sleepy stream – until the brightness was turned right down and we were looking at reflections of ourselves in the black mirror. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere, I mused to Vick. You’re overthinking this article, she replied.The next day we awoke to the siren call of starlings, sitting high in the canopy. Lying in bed, I could see occasional swarms fizz in the space between the trees – white noise in an otherwise silent forest. I wasn’t bored, but I also couldn’t remember the last time I stared out of a window for a sustained period when not moving at high speed on a train or plane. I also couldn’t remember the last time I had 24 hours on a holiday with zero plans in place.
© The Daily Telegraph