HARTFORD, Conn — Ethan Abitz is living out his childhood dreams and some.
The 22-year-old has been traveling solo throughout New England for the last eight months, staying in treehouses, tiny homes, yurts, and cabins. He is showcasing unique rentals in remote areas for a growing audience of Instagram followers living vicariously through his voyage.
“The feeling that you get when you’re walking on an elevated Bridgeway between trees to stay in a treehouse, it is wild. It is indescribable," he said.
A recent stay at Bluebird Farm in Willington brought him across miles of farmland, and rolling hills to a treehouse sanctuary tucked high.
Partnerships with similar unique dwellings run by Airbnb and VRBO hosts who appreciate his giant online influence have literally opened so many doors.
Abitz said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, “everyone needed to take a weekend to themselves and distress, and I was in the perfect position to capture that and show that you can find some reprieve from the daily life that people are experiencing."
Bankrate recently reported that a new travel trend shows vacationers are more likely to stay closer to home, drive rather than fly, and visit places with outdoor activities rather than urban centers and indoor attractions.
So while many tourism-based businesses like hotels and inns have taken a hit in the so-called COVID era, Abitz said unique and remote vacation rentals by owner hosts he’s worked with are reporting a record year.
"People have just gravitated to being able to rent their own spot away from everything and everyone,” he said.
From off-the-grid solar-powered homes to renovated school buses and shipping containers, Abitz wants to stay in them all. He is documenting it all for a film and book to highlight eco-friendly and sustainable living.
“I want to be able to tell those stories and show as many people as I can how many different ways of living are out there and the cool thing you can do when you get creative and live with intention,“ he said.