Some folks thrive on spending time roughing it just so they can be out in nature. You know the type: They hike into the woods with everything on their back. They set up their own tent and cook over a campfire. Then, when the day is over, they crawl on hands and knees to go to bed in a sleeping bag on the ground. After a few days (or more!), they go home with dirt caked under their fingernails and the smell of smoke clinging to their clothes.
Maybe you envy the beauty and adventure they experience, but there’s just no way you could stand such primitive conditions. You need your creature comforts: accommodations that include electricity and running water, meals cooked by someone other than you (preferably by a professional chef) and a bed with a quality mattress and cozy linens. But what if you could have a wilderness experience without giving all that up?
Welcome to the world of glamping!
What is glamping?
Glamping is luxury camping (think “glamour” plus “camping”) that combines an outdoor experience with many of the conveniences of a modern hotel. Although the use of posh tents to house visitors has a long history, in the 1920s it became popular as a way to oblige well-to-do travelers who wouldn’t give up their familiar comforts while on safari in Africa.
Modern-day glamping – as well as the term “glamping” itself – is relatively new. This global trend has grown over the past couple of decades, and today it’s a booming business. Mainstream publications like Time magazine, Forbes and The New York Times have devoted entire articles to it. All-inclusive glamping resorts, camp collectives and individual sites offered by private owners continually pop up, creating a multitude of opportunities suited to every type of traveler and every budget. Singles, couples and families seeking adventure, R&R or anything in between are sure to find a glamping destination perfect for them.
Accommodations designed for comfort – and more
Traditional glamping involved tents, but these days, tents are only one of several types of accommodations available. Features inside and outside can vary significantly, even among similar types, so read the description carefully before reserving. Often, they are decorated according to a theme. Many are climate controlled, and in some cases, you’ll have an en-suite bathroom or even a spa. Usually, the floors are raised and made from wood.
Here’s a run-down of some of the most common options you can find:
- Tents – A far cry from what you may remember from your scouting days, these tents can sometimes outdo what you’d find in the nicest hotel rooms. Safari tents remain popular for their cabin-like design, including high ceilings and multiple rooms. Bell tents are more portable than safari tents, consisting of a single room with space for several people.
- Tipis – Yes, they are just what you’d imagine. These lightweight simple accommodations offer a cozy space and are usually decorated in Native American décor.
- Yurts – Rounded structures with cloth walls, yurts are based on an ancient Mongolian design. Their light design makes them relatively easy to put up and take down.
- Tree Houses – These structures are much fancier than your childhood version and offer a bird’s-eye view of nature. Of course, you’ll have to climb to get to your luxury lodging (possibly a ladder but more likely a set of stairs). Many even have wood walkways connecting them to other houses or even suspension bridges!
- Camper Vans – You’ve probably seen those sleek, silver RVs – Airstreams – which make up the bulk of these types of accommodations. Although you might not see much difference between glamping in a camper van and simple RV camping, it’s all about the amenities.
- Cabins – Cabins can be anything from a simple, one-room wooden structure to a full-scale, large home. This can be a great option if what you really want is a home away from home. Is it truly glamping, though? The glamping websites seem to think so!
- Pods – These structures are generally meant to be ecologically friendly. They are usually built from local, sustainable (or recycled) materials and are cozy and weather-proof.
A sampling of glamping
You can glamp practically anywhere in the world. Here in the U.S. and Canada, these are just a small sample of the type of places available:
- Want to stay in a national park? UnderCanvas specializes in glamping packages in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and others.
- Just 2 hours from New York City is Collective Hudson Valley, a glamping retreat situated on a working organic farm and equestrian center.
- If a beachside experience is more your style, consider staying in a yurt at the Treebones Resort located in California’s Big Sur Coast.
- In Quebec, Canada, Sepaq offers glamping destinations in a variety of locations, including this yurt in Mont Tremblant National Park.