Happy glampers!

For your next vacation, try 'glamping' (glamorous camping)

Created date

October 6th, 2017
A "glampsite" in Africa.

A "glampsite" in Africa.

Camping can be great fun—a chance to get away and enjoy the great outdoors. It can also be a lot of work. And while some people relish the experience of living in a tent or a rustic cabin, others prefer creature comforts rather than actual creatures in their vacation experience. 

If you’re not into roughing it but would like to experience an outdoor-style getaway, consider “glamping”—glamorous camping. 

Birth of a trend

The term has only been around since 2006. Large, multiday festivals, like Glastonbury in the U.K. and Burning Man and Coachella in the U.S., had attendees overnighting in tents and campers. 

With each successive year, those tents and campers got more and more tricked out and people really enjoyed the experience. Savvy entrepreneurs took note. Campers were willing to pay extra for a little luxury—glamping was born. 

There are many ways to glamp—sleep under the stars in a treehouse or stay in a retro camper. There are yurts, teepees, lodges, cabins, and tents available all over the world. 

While there are numerous ways to glamp, the unifier is that the experience should be luxurious, comfortable, and easy. That means you won’t be struggling to pitch your tent, hiking through the wilderness to find a bathroom, or shivering the night away in an inadequate sleeping bag.

Finding great glamping sites is as simple as an app and a website. The big player in this game is glamping.com. Similar to Airbnb, it hosts properties on its site that are run and maintained by independent operators. 

At glamping.com, you can find hundreds of options, from a $7,175 per night home in the Serengeti to a $140 per night treehouse in Oklahoma to a $130 per night teepee in the Grieskirchen district of Austria. 

Just as with Airbnb, the options are seemingly endless and the amenities, policies, and terms vary widely. It will be up to you to determine if the site/operator works for you. Before putting down any kind of deposit, be sure you understand the operator’s policies.

You should also look into how easy it is to get to the site, what activities are available, and what kind of meal service, if any, is offered. If you have any health concerns, it would be wise to inquire about the closest medical facility.

Rustic elegance

While some glamping options are heavy on the camping, lighter on the glamour, The Resort at Paws Up is just the opposite (pawsup.com). A 37,000-acre ranch situated along the Blackfoot River in Montana, Paws Up offers guests plenty of options—from large timber homes for eight to cozy tents for two.

The tents at Paws Up are something special. Here’s how their website describes them: “Each safari-like tent features fine linens, chic rustic furnishings, a private master bathroom, cooling fans, heat, and most importantly, a skilled camp chef and a highly attentive camping butler at your beck and call.”

Tent prices start at about $1,300 per night for two. Meals, daily housekeeping service, and other amenities are included. 

There is little chance of getting cabin fever at Paws Up. Winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, and ice-skating. Dog sledding and downhill skiing venues are nearby. 

Summer activities include fly-fishing, cattle driving, rock repelling, whitewater rafting, and bird and wildlife watching.

How is glamping?

For their first glamping trip, Chris and Tricia Jones of Potomac, Md., traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif., for a wine tasting event. Brochures showed Airstream trailers situated in a picturesque vineyard overlooking the coastline.   

Tricia says that everything was ready when she and Chris arrived. The Airstream trailer was new and well equipped and both the refrigerator and pantry were stocked. “It was all set up for us,” says Tricia. “We did not have to maintain the Airstream, and they provided daily maid service.”

The couple enjoyed the experience, but the camper’s shower was a bit cramped for Chris, who is 6’2”.

“I liked the relaxed atmosphere,” says Tricia. “But the marketing brochures showed a beautiful scenic spot. In reality it was a crowded RV-type campground, which made sense since we needed the hookups for electricity, plumbing, etc. We were parked parallel to one another in a parking lot-type campground with no vistas but within walking distance to hiking trails and a small market.”

While they enjoyed their glamping experience, Tricia says they’ve gotten the glamping bug out of their system. “The airstream seemed new and very clean, but it wasn’t an inexpensive vacation, so I don’t know if I would do it again. Next time, I think perhaps a quaint inn would be nice.”