Lonely Planet Writer

Cabins in the wilderness are latest travel trend

A recent travel trend has started to make its way into newspaper columns and Tumblrs alike. From niche travel fantasy, ‘cabin porn’, or the obsession with wilderness, remoteness and cabins, has become one of the top trends of the new year.

A boathouse on the Obersee, a lake in Bavaria, Germany is featured in Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere.
A boathouse on the Obersee, a lake in Bavaria, Germany is featured in Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere. Image by Jenn and Willie Witte/ Little, Brown and Company via AP

‘Cabin porn’ is defined as the wishful desire for nature. The theory goes that as we live in urban areas, and in increasingly small apartments, we’ve developed a fantastical-obsessional relationship with wilderness and the countryside. The trend grew in America, started by techies working in San Francisco. The term originally comes from the incredibly popular Tumblr, Cabin Porn. As a testament both to the fascination with wilderness and to the ever-growing importance of Tumblr accounts, the website became such a hit that it was turned into a book.

A home built at an unusual angle in Oberwiesenthal, Germany is featured in Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere.
A home built at an unusual angle in Oberwiesenthal, Germany is featured in Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere. Image by Sebastian Heise/Little, Brown and Company via AP

Reviewing the book for The Guardian, Jess Cartner-Morley said: “Sometimes it feels as if the internet has created a world without boundaries – between public and private, between you and me – so that we buzz around all day in one endlessly interlocking hive mind. So it’s not hard to see why we might crave a tiny, safe, human-scale space, defiantly unconnected from the rest of the world.”

A dwelling in Scottsdale, Arizona where the shelter was built perpendicular to the chimney in order to create a cloistered outdoor space.
A dwelling in Scottsdale, Arizona where the shelter was built perpendicular to the chimney in order to create a cloistered outdoor space. Image by Noah Kalina/Little, Brown and Company via AP

The words perfectly describe how the obsession with remote cabins may have developed among people because of their contrasting opposition to people’s normal. Cartner-Morley goes on to describe that in particular fetishizing cabins developed as a secondary obsession after the fixation with wilderness and countryside. To enjoy the wild thoroughly is to also appreciate cosiness thoroughly, she believes. But new theories around this latest trend have pointed to more sinister implications of cabin porn, suggesting that it is a form of gentrification of nature.

 A teakettle house in Galveston, Texas in featured in the new book Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere.
A teakettle house in Galveston, Texas in featured in the new book Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere. Image by Ryder Pierce/Little, Brown and Company via AP

The website Popupcity.net recently published an article about how the gentrification that many urban cities are experiencing at the moment, may be appearing in the wild through trends like cabin porn, “…we see a striking similarity with classic gentrification processes in neighbourhoods across big cities all around the world. First a couple of creative innovators discover the potential of a new place and a new lifestyle. But shortly after a bigger group will follow. Gentrification may no longer be a solely urban phenomenon, but also a process that takes place in forests and parks.”

The idea that nature could be ‘gentrifiable’ is a new one, but if the likes of cabins and nature can hold such power over people’s daydreams and aspirations, who knows that it might not go a step further and hold power over their wallets and investments. In the meantime, the love of cabins continues, and, truth be told, it’s hard to resist them!