The Ultimate Guide To Glamping
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How Is Glamping Different Than Camping
Glamping is going camping with more comforts than traditional tent camping.
I first discovered glamping by watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The women went to a fancy resort. It had soft beds, a five-star chef and staff like a hotel. And most importantly, individual fancy bathrooms.
While they did sleep in “tents” they were not roughing it.
When I was camping in Boy Scouts, we often stayed in traditional campsites. We had access to potable water and often a traditional bathroom if you needed to poop. But in general, we slept on the ground without a cot or even an air mattress.
Meanwhile, if you spend any time with modern tent campers, everyone has tips to make the campsite more comfortable. In particular, if you are camping with your family.
And of course, if you own an RV, it can be like taking your house with you. Complete with HVAC, a traditional toilet, and even satellite TV!
Cabin camping is also a popular option. And there’s a wide range of cabins to choose from. Some cabins are nothing more than a shack while others are a home that happens to be built in the middle of nowhere.
While there are definitely people who enjoy going out into the middle of nowhere with the least amount of creature comforts, that is not most campers.
Many people want a nice tent, a good air mattress or cot, and even bring along their electric coffee makers. There are many reasons for this.
One is that if you are taking your family, you need to provide activities for the kids. Camping is competing with their video games. And you also want to make it easy for them to burn their energy out by running around and having fun.
Second, because most Americans grow up in an urban environment, there are many items that were once luxuries - like an electric coffee maker that we take for granted.
Third, as we get older, our bodies don’t recover as quickly. And sleeping with a rock in the back isn’t something we enjoy. And let’s just be candid, indoor plumbing is one of the best inventions of human society.
However, glamping isn’t just buying a fancy tent.
It must include some additional services and unique experiences.
This could be as simple as renting out a vintage Airstream camper that comes with a pre-made campfire and located on a ranch.
Or it could be a Yurt with a full-fledged butler, personal chef and massage therapist who is on call 24 hours a day.
The most important feature of a glamping trip is that they are unique and special. There are many campgrounds with lots of activities and amenities.
I would encourage you to broaden your horizons and take advantage of what glamping can offer.
7 Steps To Go Glamping
Here are the 7 steps you need to do to go glamping.
1 - How authentic do you want your camping experience to be
The first decision you need to make about glamping is to determine how “authentic” you want your camping experience to be.
There is a wide range of possible experiences.
The word glamping comes from combining the word “glamorous” with “camping.” Thus it should be no surprise that one of the reasons people like to go glamping is because of the sheer luxury of the resort.
And there are many glamping resorts which live up to this. They are the equivalent of five-star hotels that cater to every wish and desire. With cabins, tents, and trailers fitted with the highest quality beds and sheets.
With bathroom fixtures that are fit for royalty.
And their kitchens are staffed with chefs from Michelin starred restaurants. They are serving you food that you normally only find in a fancy steakhouse in a big city.
And the options for fun are endless. You could learn how to fly-fish. Or ride a horse. Or paint in watercolors. Or just sip wine in a spa.
On the other end are tents or trailers on someone’s existing property. They provide a place to stay with a warm bed. And often a firepit.
But they’re not going to come cook your dinner. Or teach you how to fish.
Though most places are somewhere in between. In the next chapter, we will review 5 different options to give you a better idea of the types of glamping places that exist.
Here are the 5 dimensions you should look at when determining “how authentic” you want your glamping experience.
Bedding – How you sleep is the most significant difference in glamping than traditional tent camping. Do you want a traditional bed as you find at a hotel? Or are you ok with only a cot?
Toilets – Do you insist on your own bathroom with a traditional porcelain toilet, or are you ok with a community restroom?
HVAC – Do you want an air conditioner? What about a heater? Or are your requirements for the trip, simply to provide shelter in a unique location?
Campfires – If you are going camping, campfires with ghost stories and s’mores are part of the fun. But if you are traditional camping, you often have to gather your own firewood. And are on your own in lighting the fire. Meanwhile, most glamping setups will provide you with the wood and staff to assist in getting the fire ignited.
Wildlife Encounters – You are going into nature. If you are traditional camping, you will have wildlife encounters. These encounters can be magical. Or annoying such as raccoons getting into your coolers. Or downright dangerous. On a glamping trip, most of your encounters can be planned in advance. And thus much safer.
Next, you want to think of the type of structure do you want to stay in.
Yurts are the symbol of glamping. They come from Central Asia. And are notable by their rectangular walls and domed roof. They’re larger than traditional tents but are cheaper to construct than a cabin. Which allows them to support amenities such as air conditioners and full-functioning toilets.
Cabins are the most common form of glamping. There are simple cabins where they only provide a simple structure and a bed. But there’s no HVAC or toilet. And there are deluxe cabins which are like living your house but outside the front door is a forest.
Teepee are inspired by the shelters used by Native American tribes. Teepees that are in glamping locations will be like yurts. They will be larger and contain popular amenities such toilets and a full HVAC system.
Airstreams are a popular brand of travel-trailer and are best known for their shiny aluminum exteriors. Some people rent them out. And there’s now a business called Autocamp that specializes in setting up campsites with only Airstreams. The benefit is that you can enjoy the classic trailer without having to worry about towing it yourself.
And there are unique places. These are typically converted structures or vehicles. For example, a shipping container that has been transformed into a cabin. Or a refurbished sleeping car from an old train.
2 - What do you want to see
According to the 2019 North American Camping Report, 54% of campers camp within 100 miles of their home.
This makes sense because you can easily drive that distance.
And if you are tent or RV camping, you have to bring everything with you. Thus it limits how far you can travel.
Meanwhile, if you go glamping, then you don’t have to take your tent or RV. Or in many cases, any other supplies except clothing.
This means you have much more possibilities open to you.
For example, do you want to experience African animals on safari? You can do this on a glamping trip to Africa.
What about, wanting to learn how to fly-fish. And then how to ride a horse. And oh, yeah your spouse wants to learn how to paint watercolors in a forest.
Glamping allows you to do that.
Or maybe you want to experience what it would be like living on a farm. Without you know, worrying about mother nature destroying your entire crop.
Or maybe you want to go see the Northern Lights. Which means going very far north. Often during the winter. And being outside requires special equipment and more importantly, expert winter camping skills.
Glamping opens up all of these possibilities.
Of course, glamping also allows you to have a simple relaxing weekend. Where you can do absolutely nothing.
3 - How many amenities and activities do you want
When you go glamping, you will want to decide upon how many amenities and activities you want.
This will be in particular true if you have a spouse who is not as much into the outdoors. And of course, how to keep your kids entertained.
When I was growing up in the 1980s, there were portable video games too. They are the embryonic versions of what we have now. They were just dots on a screen that you imagined was a football game. Or space aliens.
But the difference now is that the games are so much more immersive. And if you want to switch games because you’re stuck or bored. It’s a flick of a thumb.
Though I think we have also destroyed the love of outside play by overscheduling children. They’re in select sports. And they are taking tutoring classes.
Finally, I’m not sure why, but we made being outside seem scary. We let the myth of the boogeyman become real. And we’re afraid of the sun.
I remember growing up in the 1980s, and my mom had to beg me to come inside and play during lunch. This was because we lived in Texas, and my mom was afraid of us getting heat-stroke playing too hard.
And it wasn’t like I was living on a farm. We lived in a small suburb of Waco, Texas. A quick aside - if you watch the TV show -Fixer Upper, about half of those homes they refurbished were my classmates’ homes.
Anyway, the point of this is that when you tell kids that they’re going on a camping trip, they may not get excited.
In particular, if you have to tell them, they can’t play video games.
This is why to make sure if you are taking the kids, look for glamping places that have plenty of fun things for them to do.
While you don’t want to schedule it down to the minute, you want to have options. This could be playing on the water, learning to fish, hiking, and even learning bushcraft skills.
4 - How far do you want to go
As we mentioned earlier, the average camping trip is within 100 miles.
And if you live close to the woods as I do, you can camp within 15 minutes of your house.
And we’re not that rural. Our suburb just happens to be located along the largest lake in Texas. And so we have several parks where we can camp.
But as you know, traditional camping is limited by what you can carry. And even with car camping, this means how far you are willing to drive.
100 miles means about 2 hours in the car. Which is about the maximum, you want to be in your car with your kids who are getting bored in the backseat.
But because glamping means not having to bring anything with you, how far you want to go is only limited by budget. Because you can fly to your destination.
Yet how far you will want to go will be determined by the next section - your budget.
5 - What is your budget
According to a paper from the University of Aveiro, the biggest obstacle to glamping is cost.
Traditional camping is an affordable form of vacationing. While you do have to purchase some basic gear, it often lasts for several years. I have even heard from campers who spent less than $30 on a tent from Walmart and have used it for a decade of camping trips.
Glamping is more expensive because you are paying for amenities and activities.
While this is why people started to glamp in the first place, they do come with a cost. There is a reason why the first people to glamp were the wealthy and the famous.
But glamping is no longer limited to millionaires.
While there are luxurious resorts, there are many campgrounds that are much more affordable.
However, you can you DIY your own glamping adventure.
Instead, you can elevate your current tent setup to a more luxurious experience.
Here are some examples of how you can do this:
Stay at a campground with electricity and clean bathrooms.
Bring a larger tent because the more room you have, the more amenities you can add.
Cover the floor of the tent with rugs.
Get Christmas lights and hang them up in and around the tent.
Bring along lotions and perfumes to pamper yourself.
6 - Book Your Stay
After you have decided about where you want to go and the budget, then you need to book your stay.
Make sure that you do this early. In particular, if you are planning a summer glamping vacation. Because the popular spots will be full several months in advance.
This is why if you can go during the slower times of the year, which is often fall and winter, you will find more availability. And often better rates.
7 - Pack And Go
On a traditional camping trip, in particular, if you were to be going into the backcountry, the packing list would be quite long.
And I would emphasize the importance of having a camping checklist.
And being like Santa Clause - check it twice.
However, with most glamping trips, your preparation is similar to a hotel or cruise ship vacation.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some preparation for your trip.
First, research your trip. Read the glamping campground website. And talk to the staff to get their recommendations. And of course, read the online reviews to see what they tell you to make sure to bring.
Second, you might need to bring hiking boots to take advantage of the trails at your glamping site. If this is the case, make sure to break them in first. You don’t want to have your vacation ruined by blisters caused by new hiking boots. I wear mine around the house as well as on my casual trips around town. You can also wear those pantyhose style booties between your foot and your socks to protect against the rubbing that causes blisters.
Third, think about what special things you can bring with you. What this can be will depend upon the type of glamping holiday you are taking. This could be as simple as personalized family t-shirts. My wife loves to go hunt on Etsy to find items like this. Or if you are going to a deluxe cabin that lets you cook your own meals, bring along the fixings for meals you normally can’t make at home. For example, my wife and I have a glamping trip planned during the NFL championship game weekend. So we’re bringing our seasonings for our favorite chili to make so we can eat on it while watching the games.
5 Example Glamping Spots
According to Haute Living - the most glamorous of all American glamping experiences is at “Paws Up.” Which, by the way, also seems to be the name of every dog spa on Google.
The resort itself is located on 37,000 acres in Montana. This has everything from cabins to tents with 100 miles of trails. And an entire range of activities, from painting to fishing to horseback riding.
My wife said to me, “You can go do the adventure stuff while she does the winery tour.”
My wife and I love the TV show, “Yellowstone,” and now that we know about Paws Up, this glamping resort has jumped to the top of our bucket list.
On the other end, one of the best budget-friendly glamping spots, according to Budget Travel, is “The Cozy Peach” on Schnepfs Farm in Arizona. Here you can stay in a travel trailer, bike, and even pick your own vegetables.
However, you might also want to look for glamping opportunities at one of the KOA campgrounds. The national chain has gotten into the glamping game. Many of their campgrounds offer up more than tent and RV lots.
They have cabins for rent as well as specialized accommodations such as refurbished cabooses. They have taken retired cabooses and transformed them into cozy cabins. Not all KOA campgrounds have them so make sure to check out the KOA website so that you can find the nearest caboose equipped campsite to you.
There’s a new company called “Autocamp” which is a new campground chain. They specialize in equipping all of their campgrounds with new Airstreams. And recently, according to Bloomberg, Airstream invested in the company.
However, another alternative to staying in new Airstream, you can go on websites like Glamping Hub and look for people who are renting out vintage Airstreams. Or have converted storage containers into their own cabins.
Book Your Glamping Trip Now!
If you want to have the kids to put down the video games and experience nature, then you need to take the camping.
However, traditional camping requires committment.
And it’s not for everyone. In particular, the older you get, the less you want to sleep on the ground.
Or you are like my business partner Teena who camps almost every weekend with her horses. And has done so for 30 years.
Yet, she demands a porcelain toilet. She’s not like my friend Hansen, who takes fishing trips out to remote parts of Canada. And once for a joke, took a photo of the tree he hung his toilet paper from and texted it to me.
Or maybe your spouse is like my wife Jessica. She loves to take weekend trips with me into the woods. And is fine to let me go outside and play mountain man.
As long as she gets to stay in a travel-trailer, RV or cabin.
This is why glamping was created.
And there’s no better way to get newcomers to get off their couches and into nature than glamping.
Go book your adventure now!