The term “glamping” started popping up in 2007 — the year I Can Has Cheezburger cat reigned and the iPhone came out — and is a combination of two words: glamour and camping, according to Talal Benjelloun, the co-founder of Glamping Hub.
Instead of roughing it in the great outdoors with a tent and sleeping bag, glamping offers hotel-like comforts with access to nature. And it’s become a really big deal. By 2024, the United States glamping market alone will reach roughly $1 billion, according to market research by Arizton.
Before assuming this method of comfort-camping isn’t rugged enough for you, here’s a look at who is actually glamping, what the options are, and why it’s the perfect opportunity to de-stress (i.e. escape rush hour idiots and high rises).
Who Glamps and Why?
“The word ‘glamping’ gave a space to all of those unique accommodations [like] treehouses, tipis, yurts, etc,” says Benjelloun, whose online booking site for glamping-specific destinations is like an Airbnb for, well, non-houses. He adds that “the rise of new technologies, internet, and the common way of living away from nature has brought travelers to this need to re-connect with the wild, but without roughing it too much, especially when it comes to going with your partner, friends, or family.”
Glamping satisfies our desire for trying “some type of new camping,” said Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in its 2018 North American Camping Report, adding that 93% of millennials and 93% of gen X-ers both desired this expansion from the regular ho-hum.
“Millennials are the most likely to want to experience backcountry camping and/or glamping, while gen X-ers seek unique accommodations,” the report added.
Arizton’s data shows California, Colorado, Washington, New York, and Texas as having the highest interest in glamping, with the demand for cabins and safari tents projected to trend upward in the next five years. The big boom of “wellness tourism” will also accelerate the popularity of glamping, since the driving motivation behind this luxury nature experience is “relaxation and de-stressing.”
In summary: People who don’t like camping glamp, and people who love camping glamp. Which means everyone gets out in nature, which means we all chill out and become better people.
What Does Glamping Look Like?
The biggest difference from traditional camping is that all the amenities you might need from the comfort of your home or on a camping trip — grill, sleeping space, portable shower, etc. — are already set up at your far-away campsite. Also, your dinky tent gets a major update.
Much as you’d reserve a camping spot or book a room at a hotel, before glamping, you’ll plan and reserve your stay. Entering your site, you’ll likely find a dressed bed, sitting area, electrical plugs, décor, a shower, and lights. Your space will already be set up by the time you arrive, which Benjelloun says “gives you more time to focus on yourself, the people you came with, and connecting with nature.” Glamping sites range from minimalist, no-service, off-the-grid rugged tents to lavish tent mini-mansion.
Glamping Hub, for instance, offers 28 different types of experiences to choose from, with the most popular and close-to-nature options being: tented cabins, yurts, safari tents, tipis, treehouses, domes, and huts, and even including caves and igloos. It’s debatable, but many also consider Airstreams or trailers, barns, towers, and cottages fair game to call “glamping” experiences if they’re tucked away in nature and off the grid.
If you don’t care about the type of glamping “tent” you’re in, pick a destination based on where you want to travel. Glamping isn’t a U.S. secret. In fact, some of the most luxurious options can be found around the world. If you need a destination recommendation ASAP, Benjelloun says his top glamping recommendations (close to home) right now are: This treehouse in California, this airstream in Texas, and this Safari Tent in Utah.
DIY Glamping Tips
The truest expression of glamping involves doing minimal (to zero) work setting up your “campsite.” However, anyone can DIY glamp by upgrading your camping gear with more comfortable items.
For instance, in place of a two-person tent and sleeping bags, bring a 10-person tent for you and your S.O., an air mattress, bedding and pillows, a generator for music, a heater … you get the gist. Make it cozy and serene.
Load your car with items that “give you the feel of being at home away in nature,” Benjelloun says. But this takes a lot of work on your behalf, and the point of glamping is to be comfortable in nature without a care in the world.
Why You Should Embrace Glamping Already
It’s like swapping a soda for water — opting to make one of your trips a glamping experience, as opposed to a hotel, means you’ll likely use less electricity during your stay, you’ll learn about a stretch of nature and why it’s important to preserve its wildness, and even though it’s not as bare bones as camping, you’ll find yourself wanting to disconnect and enjoy just being.
Each glamping experience is also purposefully unique and the owners of sites pride themselves on the guest experience. You’ll likely find additional services like guided hikes, canoeing, archery, and fireside cookouts, and the glamping tents themselves are dazzlingly designed with attention to detail. It can be like going to an adult summer camp, or can offer an excuse to enjoy your solitude.
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