What Is Glamping – Ultimate Guide to the Latest Camping Fad
by Lidia Bertesteanu
December 21, 2018

Tourism is a constantly evolving industry, as travelers nowadays have different priorities than those before them. They no longer want to witness the world from afar. In fact, they prefer to become completely immersed in the landscape and culture of their destination. Glamping emerged from this need to commune with nature without being forced to sacrifice comfort.

Have you ever found yourself wishing to spend some more time immersed in nature, but couldn’t because you’re simply not that outdoorsy of a person? Fortunately, there is a solution for your dilemma, and it comes in the form of glamping. Who says you have to sacrifice comfort in order to enjoy the wild side of life? Not us, that’s for sure!

What Is Glamping?
the basics

The term ‘glamping’ is a portmanteau between the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. It has its origins in the early 21st century, according to the Oxford Dictionary. But what does glamping mean? Glam camping, as its name implies, means that your outing in nature will benefit from a far more luxurious accommodation and superior conditions than those on a traditional site.

In a nutshell, glamping is camping for people who don’t actually like camping, but wouldn’t mind living lavish for a few days in the middle of nature. Five-star accommodations in the middle of the forest? Saunas, jacuzzis, and gourmet meals? You name it, glamping offers it.

Some modern glamping sites go as far as to offer resort-style amenities. On the one hand, traditional camping involves a modestly sized tent, a sleeping bag, and shared bathroom facilities (if you’re lucky!). On the other hand, its glamorous counterpart has all the comforts of an elite hotel room with the added benefit of partaking in a relaxing nature escape.

Glamping vs. Camping
the differences

The most important aspect of the glamping vs camping debate is that glamping is not camping, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. To better illustrate the differences between the two, we have prepared this detailed list of characteristics and how they diverge with one another. First of all, we will establish exactly what camping is.

Camping

Basic accommodation

Traditional camping begins with pitching your own tent on the grounds of a campsite, or in a remote natural location if that is your personal preference. They have various sizes and capacities, as well as different features. Heavily waterproofed and insulated ones are naturally more expensive, but also more reliable.

Glamping

Luxury accommodation

As far as glamping accommodation goes, luxury is the keyword to keep in mind. Glam tents are roomier, and they are made from better materials as well. In addition to this, many glamping resorts offer other options, such as pre-built yurts, tree houses, pods, or even cottages.

Limited storage

The great outdoors don’t offer safe storage space options. This means that you will need to store your personal belongings in the car, or inside the tent if you have a larger model.

Spacious alternatives

Space is no longer a problem when it comes to glamping. Safari tents, pods, domes, and other lodgings that fit in this category are far more expansive (and expensive) than a traditional tent for two or three. Some even come with a closet where you can hang clothes and store valuables.

Outdoor/Improvised toilet

A good rule of thumb when camping in nature is to find a secluded place behind a tree or bush to do your business, then clean up after yourself as much as possible. However, traditional campgrounds state parks do have integrated public toilets if you want to use one. How sanitary they are depends on the area’s administration.

Private toilet

Glamping accommodations nowadays come with private toilet facilities more often than not. Campsites that do not offer this service provide tourists with shared facilities that are cleaned regularly and thoroughly.

Unexisting/ Improvised showering

Many campers choose not to shower at all. Nevertheless, there are some options for this when you are in the wild. You can either bathe in a nearby river if the weather allows for it and you don’t use soap, or purchase a portable shower for when bodily odor becomes too much to bear. Select campgrounds have shared showering facilities for campers, which is a plus.

Private showers and even baths

Campgrounds dedicated to glamping offer access to showers, which are clean and well-kept. What’s more, some units have integrated private bathrooms – some of which boasting high-end bathtubs – which adds an extra layer of luxury to the experience.

Self-built fire

Building the campfire is one of the most notable delights of the entire camping trip. On a traditional site, you will have to do this yourself and ensure that it is strong enough to last through an evening of friendly chatter, ghost stories, and s’mores.

The fire is more of an experience

Choosing luxury in the midst of nature means that you will also have access to the necessary materials for building a cozy fire. Most glamping sites have them available on the premises, and employees are also ready to help rookie glampers in the process.

No tent temperature control

Huddling around the campfire is the best way to stay warm in the evening, but what about the temperature inside your tent? A padded sleeping bag complete with weather-appropriate clothing is your best bet on a chilly night.

Heating and air conditioning

Temperature control is a lot simpler when glamping. Units are generally equipped with heating and air conditioning, which means that your deluxe room can be as warm or chilly as you want it to be. If you choose the DIY, you can also bring your own.

Sleeping in a sleeping bag

When it comes to getting some much-needed shut-eye on your camping trip, a snug and insulated sleeping bag is the number one alternative. Some campers also use inflatable mattresses for an added touch of comfort, but this is optional.

Sleeping in a cozy bed

Domes, pods, or cottages usually come equipped with a bed. DIY glampers can also benefit from this level of contentment, as tents are spacious enough to fit a glamping mattress for two or more people.

No cooking facilities

Canned food is a must for longer camping trips. Cooking hot meals is also an option, as long as you can handle doing it over the campfire or bring a portable stove. However, you will have to store ingredients in a cooler, and make sure to use them as quickly as possible so that they don’t expire or spoil.

Cooking facilities on the premises

Glamping sites offer everything you need to cook food, apart from the ingredients. They usually have fully equipped kitchens, so you won’t have to bring a portable stove or utensils.

Drinkable water is scarce

Bottled or canned drinks are a good idea for traditional camping in general. Still, a river or stream is your best bet to find additional hydration. Just remember that all water collected from nature must be boiled before consumption.

Onsite water sources

As far as glamping accommodation goes, luxury is the keyword to keep in mind. Glam tents are roomier, and they are made from better materials as well. In addition to this, many glamping resorts offer other options, such as pre-built yurts, tree houses, pods, or even cottages.

Frequent wildlife encounters

Spending your time in nature implies expecting you will run into a couple of wild animals here and there. While some are downright precious, other can be dangerous. Be mindful of how you act around them.

Limited or controlled wildlife encounters

Wildlife encounters are far more limited and controlled by additional safety measures when glamping. However, this doesn’t provide you with a 100% guarantee you won’t run into a few woodland species at all. Glamping still happens in the middle of nature, after all.

There’s a lot of DIY involved

Going camping the traditional way means doing everything by yourself. You will have to pitch the tent, inflate the mattress, gather supplies, and so on. It is a wonderful exercise in self-reliance, but it will be time and energy-consuming.

Moderate amounts of DIY

Glamping still resembles camping in some ways, which means that there will be some amount of DIY involved. Still, most of the work will be done for you through the nature of the accommodation and the assistance of the onsite personnel.

The History of Glamping
and where did it start

Glamping may sound like something made up by millennials who want to eat avocado toast while Instagramming their communion with nature, but, truth is, glamping has been around since the 1100s. Let’s admit it, people have always had a soft spot for comfort. That is why, to better understand what is glamping, we will be looking at the history of glamping and its evolution throughout the century.

1100s – Mongolia

The origins of what we identify as glamping today dates all the way back to the Mongolia of the 1100s. The nomadic people of Central Asia resided in portable dwellings known as yurts that allowed them to move around the land freely and set up camp when necessary. Tribes moved together with their herds around four times per year.

Of course, the nomadic Mongolian people did this out of necessity. Nowadays, yurts are one of the primary type of glamping accommodation. Unlike their older siblings, they are permanent and built on wooden frames. This makes yurts sturdy and insulated so as to ensure the wellbeing of tourists, and spacious enough to fit a wide array of amenities and facilities.

1500s – Europe

The very first instances of fancy glamping have been observed throughout the history of the sixteenth century. The most notable event occurred in 1520, and it is known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold diplomatic summit. It was held between François I and Henry VIII, who met outside Calais to discuss politics and engage in lavish spectacles of grandeur.

Besides diplomacy, the Field of the Cloth of Gold consisted of 2,800 extravagantly decorated tents, jousting tournaments, luscious feasts, and fountains that ran red with wine. This paved the way for what glamping is today. What is more, it wasn’t the only event of this nature to occur during the opulent Renaissance period.

It was around that time also that the Scottish Earl of Atholl pitched an array of sumptuous tents to welcome King James V and his mother into the Highlands. The luxury camp was supplied with provisions from the Earl’s own home castle. From this, we can observe that, in the old days, glamping was an activity reserved for crowned heads.

Customs from other parts of the world attest this as well. Around the same time, Ottoman Empire royalty resided in palatial tents while on military missions. These dwellings were transported ostentatiously from one base to the other as course of action dictated. In addition to this, they were often decorated with inimitable grandeur.

As explained by Turkish art historian Professor Nurhan Atasoy, the décor of the imperial tents closely resembled that of pavilions. Cloth applies, embroidery, and stitching on the canvas of the marquees were done in such a way as to resemble tiled panels with floral patterns. Common fabrics included silk and metal thread.

1900s – Africa

The 1900s are an important milestone in the history of glamping, as it was around this time that the activity became popular for touristic purposes. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt is widely credited for promoting camping as a viable vacation option, thanks to his widely publicized 1903 venture into Yosemite alongside conservationist John Muir.

It didn’t take long for wealthy Brits and Americans to follow suit, but they chose a far more exotic destination for their voyages, namely Africa. Needless to say, the rich and famous didn’t want to sacrifice the comforts they had at home while on the journey. This is how the concept of the safari was born.

It’s no secret that modern safaris are as non-invasive as possible. They generally consist of wildlife observation and hiking, which are activities aimed at not disrupting nature. Back then, things were entirely different. Participants hunted during the day, then returned to their deluxe tents to enjoy an opulent dinner before resting for the night.

2000s – UK & US

The term ‘glamping’ was first used in the United Kingdom in 2005, and the concept grew in popularity in no time. It even gained a considerable amount of traction in the United States. Google searches for it started peaking around 2007, and nowadays glamping is more present than ever at events such as music festivals, team building trips, and even weddings.

For example, The Telegraph reported in 2016 that those who attended the first large-scale music festivals in the United Kingdom back in the nineties are now more interested in pursuing glamping together with their families. For this generation of middle-aged Brits, it is the perfect blend between living freely and still enjoying some of the good things in life.

Glamping is notably renowned in the United States as well, for similar reasons. The activity has become so widespread that the American Glamping Association officially formed in August of 2018. Its goals include managing customer expectations and offering accreditation to agencies that provide the public with this type of holiday package.

Types of Glamping Accommodation
tents & homes

As you may have probably guessed by now, glamping differs quite a lot from its little cousin, camping. While in camping you don’t have many options among tents, in glamping, accommodations can take various shapes and sizes. It all depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and, of course, the budget you want to invest in it. In this section of the article, we will be looking at the most popular types of glamping accommodations.

Yurts

As previously mentioned, yurts are a type of Central Asian portable dwelling that some tribes employ to this day. What makes it the supreme glamping alternative is its resilience and spaciousness. One yurt can easily fit as many as six campers.

Safari Tents

Choosing glamping over traditional camping doesn’t mean renouncing tents. Safari tents are idyllic glamping tents, as they are basically a home with canvas walls. Furthermore, they can be set up anywhere. You won’t have to go to Africa to enjoy this lavish outdoor accommodation.

Teepees

Teepees are a traditional Native American house that is cone-shaped and covered with animal skins. Modern glamping alternatives are constructed a bit differently, but the experience is a similar one. Teepee sites are ideal for glamping with pets, as they allow your furry friends to roam around the grounds, then return to the safety and warmth of the abode.

Tree Houses

Do you ever miss the creature comforts of your childhood? Glamping tree houses are the textbook way to relive them. They’re even better when you’re glamping with kids, as the little ones are bound to enjoy this unique and pure experience.

tree house glamping

Domes

Domes are a futuristic and eco-friendly type of glamping accommodation that often includes luxurious amenities such as hot tubs and private bathrooms. By far the most attractive component of a dome glamping trip is the panoramic view it offers on the surrounding natural landscape.

Pods

The term ‘glamping pod’ is often associated with the industry, but what is a glamping pod exactly? Glamping pods and cubes are structures specifically built to offer high-quality accommodation in the middle of nature to tourists that want to enjoy the beauty of wildlife without intruding upon it. It’s like tent camping in style.

Cottages

Cottages and huts might look unpretentious and unadorned on the outside, but they offer nothing short of luxury when used for glamping purposes. Booking a stay in one will offer you a bucolic experience of total immersion in nature.

Barns

Renovated barns and farmhouses are more and more sought after by glampers nowadays. The main appeal behind this type of accommodation is that it perfectly combines the wonders of natures with the simplicity of rural life, while maintain a certain degree of luxury throughout.

Trailers

Together with airstreams, trailers awaken a sense of long-lost nostalgia among glamping campers. Their portability is their main asset, but the fact that you can choose an adequate level of comfort to suit your needs is also a huge plus.

Campervans

Nothing compares to a campervan when you want to enjoy every single step along the way of a glamping trip. Due to the wide variety of alternatives on the market, you can reside in anything from a modest bedroom to a full-blown apartment with a kitchen and private bathroom.

Wagons

If you’re after a quirky glamping experience that exudes country charm, a wagon is the perfect choice. In this way, you can enjoy the rustic magic of frontier times without sacrificing modern indulgences such as electricity and running water.

Igloos

Similarly to yurts and teepees, igloos are another type of tradition dwelling that can be used for tourism nowadays. What sets them apart from the other two is the uniqueness of the setting you will be glamping in, as they are customarily built out of solid snow blocks.

Caves

Vacationing in a cave is perhaps the most exceptional of glamping ideas. Various locations around the world offer this option, most notably in Europe and North America. The caverns are arranged to welcome tourists, complete with cozy beds, lamps, and other commodities. Nevertheless, this type of trip is quite expensive due to the exclusivity of the location.

Essential Glamping Gear
you must have

There are a few universal truths that apply to both camping and glamping. For example, you should pack all perishable goods in a cooler to preserve them for cooking. However, there are other indispensable items you should consider. The following list of glamping essentials focuses on those things that you might not think about bringing along off the top of your head.

Clothing

Just because glamping offers more luxurious conditions than its traditional counterpart doesn’t mean that you won’t risk getting cold if you don’t bring the right clothing along in your backpack. Most of the activities still take place outdoors, which means that you should aim to be able to remain relaxed regardless of the weather.

For Mild Climates
Waterproof and windproof jacket Waterproof and windproof trousers
Warm pants Long-sleeved shirts
Hoodie Flip-flops
Wellington Boots Extra undies and socks
For Cold Climates
Thermal leggins Thermal undershirt
Thick sweatshirt Fleece jacket
Fleece or wool hat Gloves
Hiking boots

Toiletries

Toiletries are vital glamping supplies, even if some resorts do include some in the cost of the room. It’s better to come prepared. After all, you will still be in the middle of nature, and thus not have the option to run to the nearest store to buy hair conditioner or toothpaste.

Glamping Toiletries
Toilet paper Fast-drying towel
Wet wipes Nail clippers or scissors
Tweezers Toothbrush & toothpaste
Dental floss & mouthwash Comb or hairbrush
Comb or hairbrush Shampoo
Soap or shower gel Hair conditioner
Hand sanitizer Lotion
Sunscreen SPF lip palm

First Aid Kit

Nature is undisputedly charming, but it can also be dangerous. A first aid kit is thus indispensable on a glamping trip, although many of us fail to remember its importance. Here are some of the provisions it should contain.

Glamping First Aid Kit
Bandages Surgical tape
Scissors Disinfecting alcohol or oxygen peroxide
Alcohol wipes Paracetamol tablets
Imodium tablets Antihistamine cream and tablets
Mosquito repellent Antiseptic cream
Arnica cream Muscle gel
Burn spray Any personal medicine

Gadgets

You might not consider your phone or laptop essential glamping gear, but how else will you document all your adventures? Gadgets are an incredibly useful addition to your checklist, as they serve both practical and entertainment purposes.

Glamping Gadgets
Photo and video camera Chargers and adapters
A solar power charger or external battery iPod or other music player
Headphones Travel speakers
Laptop or tablet for watching movies

Entertainment

Gadgets aren’t the only source of entertainment out there. Why not play some fun glamping games together with your friends and family, and create a lovely tradition that will stand the test of time? The options are many.

Glamping Entertainment
Boardgames & a pack of cards Books
A kite Bicycles
Fishing gear Frisbee
Coloring books

Glamping Tips
you should know

In this final section of the article, we will discuss our top five glamping tips that will help you improve the quality of your experience and enjoy nature at its fullest.

1. Create a Checklist of Essentials

Your accommodation might be like a hotel room in the middle of nature, but that doesn’t mean you should be lazy when packing. Glamping takes place in remote wilderness locations, which is why you should come prepared and have all the essentials on hand.

A checklist is the best way to ensure that you won’t forget anything crucial.Write down the necessary pieces of glamping equipment and glamping accessories for your trip. You can use the list above for inspiration. Pick and choose what suits the destination, and add other items as well if you think they will come in handy.

2. Prepare Gourmet Meal Recipes

Glamping resorts might offer luxury amenities to their customers, but they seldom come equipped with restaurants and private chefs. Thus, you will have to prepare your own meals at the end of the day. So, why not make the best out of the situation and indulge in dishes worthy of the stylish setting of your nature trip?As previously mentioned, you will most likely benefit from cooking facilities and utensils on the campgrounds.

However, bringing the necessary ingredients is up to you. When in doubt, stick to one-pot recipes, as they are easier to prepare on the go. Gourmet options such as prawns, veal roast, creamy gnocchi, or chicken curry will take your vacation to the next level.

3. Add Touches of Home to Your Tent

What is a glamping tent without the beloved comforts of home? Decorating your temporary living space, be it a pod, a cottage, or a renovated barn, with a few items that remind you of home is a sure way to enhance the quality of your overall experience. You don’t have to bring something big either. A snug blanket and your favorite lamp will suffice.

4. Set Up an Entertainment Station

The secret of how to go glamping and truly enjoy it lies in the entertainment you make for yourself on the premises. Setting up a station for this purpose is a good idea, as it allows every member of your party to choose how they want to spend your time. Stock it with an iPod and speakers, books, cards, and so on, and decide which activities you want to pursue.

5. Create Additional Facilities with DIY

There are many ways to go glamping. Some tourists choose resorts or pre-built accommodation options such as teepees, yurts, and pods. Others prefer to do everything from scratch and create their own luxurious campsite. Regardless of which category you fit into, pursuing additional DIY projects is a great way to enhance your living conditions and create a vibe.

Decorating the outside of your accommodation and the surrounding trees with fairy lights is the simplest project in this category. In this way, not only will the campsite look magical, but you will also have adequate lighting in the evenings so that you can prepare a meal or read a book.

Conclusion

Glamping resembles traditional camping in some respects but is essentially different overall. Think of it as the wealthy and luxurious cousin that takes every aspect of the trip up a notch. It is the ideal vacation option for people that want to enjoy the raw and untamed beauty of nature while benefiting from the comforts of a hotel room.

Lidia Bertesteanu

Main Editor

About the Author

"When I’m on a trail, it gets quiet, it gets peaceful, I feel like I can breathe again and enjoy nature’s untouched beauty."

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