How glamping went from a joke to an industry, and how to give it a try

What is glamping?

What is glamping, anyway? When people first started tossing around the term “glamping” roughly a decade ago, it mostly made fun of high-income travelers spending money to camp with their luxuries. The word — a portmanteau of glamor and camping — called up images of those who refused to rough it without daily access to technology, entertainment, soft beds, and accessible cuisine — even if it required going to ridiculous extremes.

But then things changed. Several factors shifted glamping from the meme that it was to a far more widespread, significant part of the camping industry:

  • Incomes rose following the recession and more people had the ability to spend extra money on their camping trip.
  • Social media encouraged the use of technology while camping—with a focus on areas with internet availability.
  • Technology evolved toward smaller, more portable devices that made glamping easier and less costly.
  • Luxury camping became more about the location and less about the means of camping itself. Glamping earned respectability if the focus was on a unique spot that few people had access to.

By 2017, glamping evolved into a serious trend — a way of taking a vacation in nature combined with the luxury of a fine hotel (and preferably flanked by excellent views as part of the package). Here’s what you need to know about the modern glamping trip.

Glamping locations

treehouse airbnb

Modern glamping places a ton of importance on the spot you choose to “camp” at. This transformed glamping from a purely DIY pastime into a search for special, isolated lodgings which bring you closer to nature while providing accommodations as good or better than your own home. While this may stretch the definition of glamping, it’s led to everything from glamper Kickstarters to resorts that actually have glamping in their name. Popular glamper destinations include:

  • Yurts: These aren’t your granddad’s tiny wood yurts but rather large, spacious yurts designed with a minimalistic approach. They feature full beds, furniture, plenty of light and air, and all the amenities you’d ever need. It’s the closest accommodation to actual tent camping and allows glampers to get further into nature.
  • Treehouses: A wave of eco-friendly treehouses sprung up across the world recently, including plenty within the United States. It’s a fun, innovative idea that provides a different perspective and adds a little adventure to surprisingly traditional resort amenities — which is exactly what most glampers look for.
  • Pods: Pods are like modern, often portable, yurts. They’re typically metal or plastic bubbles designed to have a minimalistic impact on the environment when possible, and can be placed in wilder locations than most resorts would allow. Entire hotels, like White Pod, have made a business model out of offering isolated pods to travelers looking for a different experience.
  • Large campgrounds: Of course, some people still prefer bringing their own technology to traditional campgrounds. The key is that glampers tend to need a lot of room, so the average camping space may not be sufficient.

Glamping tents and trailers

Autonomous Tent Co Cocoon

For traditional glamping, you still need a tent — but it shouldn’t be anything close to ordinary. For the real experience, you need either a luxury tent or a fully equipped trailer. Trailers are largely self-explanatory, though it’s worth mentioning there’s a growing trend of renovating older trailers with more luxurious features to make them fit for glamping.

When it comes to tents, only the best will do. Two important trends to point out here are teepee variations and double tents. A teepee style tent is exactly what it sounds like — the extra room makes these tents ideal for more room and amenities, without compromising all the rough aspects of camping. The double tent, meanwhile, isolates the living space as much as possible so nothing from the outdoors makes its way inside and used on its own or as part of a larger setup. Some double tents are even designed to sit on top of your truck for better protection.

Glamping technology

liligo vacation planning stress mini clubvan camper camping

For a DIY approach to glamping, you need the right tech — and that means bringing along many of your current beloved mobile devices. With today’s tablets and smartphones, there’s no need to haul along a TV or gaming console, which makes glamping far easier. However, there are a number of additional technologies capable of helping out.

  • Portable chargers: Portable chargers carry necessary ports for mobile devices and electronics. Powerful versions are a must for a good glamping experience. Extended trips benefit greatly from solar-charged models you can leave out in the sun to renew over time.
  • Bluetooth speakers: Music, radio, movie sound — Bluetooth speakers do it all, average around 12-15 hours of battery life, and have plenty of durable models that can survive any camping experience.
  • Inflatable everything: Sure, an inflatable mattress is important but don’t stop there. Bring along an inflatable sofa to relax on, or pick your favorite couch, chair and bubble tent for a fully inflatable glamping package.
  • Meal kits: Glamp in style with a dedicated camping dinnerware set designed for camping, or bring along a portable outdoor oven range to create the kind of meal you really want. Hey, you can even pack a whole kitchen if you want.
  • Pressure showers: If there’s one thing glampers miss from home, it’s the on-demand shower. That’s tricky to replicate with a water heater and plumbing but you can get extremely close with pressurized camp showers — these include everything from bags with nozzles to full shower tents and yes, portable water heater ensembles.
  • Advanced lighting: Most portable LED lights, including strings like Luminoodle, work well for camping purposes but if you want a dedicated LED light, you should try LED camping lanterns.