Getaway is the newest startup to make everything old new again. For a fee, It provides you with a box in the woods to sit in. Wow, disrupt me harder, forest daddy!
Getaway formed in 2015, co-founded by too Harvard grads (duh) named Jon Staff and Pete Davis. They even appeared on an episode of Shark Tank, though ultimately walked away from an offer made by venture capitalist Chris Sacca on the show, according to Bizjournals, because they believed Getaway was worth more than the number where Sacca valued it. (They were right.) It’s basically camping for idiots, and the world is never short on idiots nor people with virtually no survival skills.
But Getaway isn’t marketing itself as cabins with a stocked larder. It’s meant to be an “experience” that disconnects wacky millenials from things like planning and the Internet. Until you book your box, you don’t even get to know exactly where the box site is, because you might be too tempted to, I don’t know, put enough gas in your car to get there? Bizjournals:
When people do book a stay, they receive the location, a key code, the house name, directions, and a Spotify music playlist to “set the mood” on the car ride, Staff said. Rates start at $125 a night. Each house includes a heater, two-burner kitchen stove, queen bed, shower, toilet, sink, mini-fridge, basic kitchen tools and wireless speaker. There are no TVs, and cell coverage might be spotty or nonexistent.
Okay, okay. Sounds like a cabin in the woods.
Lavanya Ramanathan of the Washington Post shared some ruminations on her experience in a Getaway location about “two hours to Stanardsville” in a shitty former RV campground. She calls the boxes “tinys,” and every tiny has a name. In the case of this location, they’re names that sounds like waitresses from an old-timey diner. Lenore. Shirley. Lillian. Ramanathan does eventually address the elephant in the tiny:
“Idiot,” you think. “This is called camping.”
Not exactly. Now, in tiny houses that no one will acknowledge are honestly just what we used to call cabins, it’s called “escaping.”
Just what are we running from?
The answer, according to Ramanathan, is millenial parent’s big houses and the anxiety of being young. Sure. It honestly doesn’t sound like Ramanathan had a very good time, saying her expectation of a feeling of “woodsiness” never materializes. She spent her evening in Shirley drinking wine, and poking at a campfire. This is normal! Camping is boring!
That’s not what makes Getaway bad—what makes it bad is startups forcing their way into every aspect of human existence and demanding we smile and wonder over it and accept their attempts to homogenize experience and connect it to an app as a welcome “disruption.” There is no larger, more meaningful revolution to buying up lots of lands and putting your franchise on them, even if you have a branded Spotify playlist.
Traditional campgrounds have always served to remind me of how different, huge and impenetrable America can be. You find weird toilets, regional snacks, rooms that haven’t been refitted in 50 years. It’s not that things should never change, it’s that they shouldn’t all be exactly the same everywhere. Getaway and companies like it want to smooth out all the quirks and monopolize experience, and honestly, I really need to go sit in the woods to get away from my anxiety about it.