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Designing the Perfect Private Sanctuary

We’re a country obsessed with privacy—or a lack of it. But that doesn’t mean you have to shut yourself in a bunker whenever you go on vacation.

On Seal Rocks Beach in New South Wales, architects designed this 4,300-square-foot family getaway to create a private, inner courtyard. It won’t shield you from NSA drones, but it will afford you relief from neighbor’s prying eyes.

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The home’s open entrance is shaded. Leave your surfboard and wetsuit here before settling into one of the many hammocks. There’s a living area, shower, and bathroom tucked under the eave, while a big bunkroom, two bedrooms, and the entryway make up one long side of the rectangle. There’s also a galley kitchen across from the bath. Minimal exterior windows shutter the house completely from the outside.

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This cabin is nearly 100 percent self-sufficient, with solar panels, rainwater catchment, and a composting worm farm to treat sewage. Basic materials and construction techniques were used to reduce cost, prevent corrosion, and take advantage of local resources.  

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A sanctuary like this isn't inexpensive: the New South Wales cottage cost $300,000 to build. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether your privacy is worth it.  

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Heimplanet The Cave

The perfect tent is durable, lightweight, and easy to set up. The Cave from German company Heimplanet delivers on all three accounts.

The Cave is a single-piece, three-person geodesic dome that inflates in less than a minute. And no, it’s not likely to pop thanks to the exterior’s high-tenacity polyester fabric. Plus, each of the air chambers (which act like traditional tent poles) are separated, so even if one were to get punctured, The Cave would maintain its structure.

And if this wind test is any indication, this futuristic tent is more than capable of withstanding anything your next camping trip will throw at it.

$757, heimplanet.com

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High-Tech Travel Trailers

Even our towable trailers are getting smart. With innovative aerodynamic designs, rugged suspension systems, and wide-open skylights, these four high-tech trailers—from modest to totally excessive—are ready for the open road. 

2014 Airstream Sport 22FB Travel Trailer ($48,891)

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Airstream assembled this towable trailer like an airplane, using riveted aluminum panels. The Sport 22FB has a low center of gravity and an aerodynamic shape—the company estimates a fuel savings of up to 30 percent compared to other travel trailers. Perks include a glass plate that covers the cookstove and a convection microwave. Plus, all the exterior and interior parts are recyclable.

2014 Winnebago Micro Minnie ($TBD)

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New this summer, this fiberglass pull-behind camper is a durable, streamlined sleeping compartment. The Micro Minnie uses a tankless water heater, and the dual-axle design means if you blow a tire, you can keep towing until you get to the repair shop.

2014 Moby1 XTR ($18,500)

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This teardrop trailer is designed for rugged off-roading. You can adjust the suspension to handle smooth roads or rocky terrain in the foothills. There’s also an option to add a tent to the roof ($2,400) to increase the total sleeping capacity to seven, and another option to add solar panels ($350 each). 

2015 Jayco Jay Flight 32RLDS ($TBD)

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This massive 32-foot travel trailer features some of the most advanced trailer tech on the market. The powered awning has a row of LED lights for nighttime cookouts, there’s a skylight on the roof for stargazing, and the sink includes a pull-out sprayer (all part of the new Elite package). When you tow, a unique stabilizer system reduces rattling and smooths out the ride.

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Dub Box Camper

Forget that old, moldy VW parked out back. It’s time to upgrade to one of Dub Box’s pimped out campers

The exterior channels all the retro appeal of the old-school vans, but inside, you’ll find more luxuries than you'll know what to do with. The campers each come with a dining area that can comfortably seat four adults, a convertible double bed, and a kitchenette with enough storage for a few days on the road.

Then there are the add-ons, which include: a stovetop; a fridge; a toilet; an outdoor shower, an awning; a weather curtain; and a Bluetooth-capable sound system.

$19,500, dub-box-usa.com

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B House: Spain’s Nature-Loving Retreat

A cabin should take you away from the stress of the digital, hyper-connected life. But that doesn’t mean you have to rough it.   

For me, a backcountry cabins should offer simple, modern luxury. Take this family countryside getaway in Spain, which takes advantage of its surroundings while still offering all the comforts you’d expect in the city.    

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Located near orchards and fields of grain, the cabin mirrors the color of the site—yellow. In spring, canary flowers cover the nearby meadows, while in autumn, golden ash leaves linger on the trees.

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The house itself—more like a covered pass than a true cabin—is nothing but an enormous room with sliding glass walls facing east and west. It’s wrapped in yellow wood planks, and connects seamlessly to timber decks outside. 

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There’s a tiny built-in kitchen on one side of the room with a contemporary fireplace on the opposite wall. Bedrooms flank both ends of the cottage (one of these wood-covered nooks has only a sky window to let in light). Tucked into the hillside, there’s also a full-length playroom and library for browsing on lazy summer nights.  

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