Glamping has been a growing trend in the travel industry for some time. While it has origins in deep wild trekking and adventure, its foundation is actually a simple one. How do you take camping – which is often rustic and uncomfortable – and turn it into something that is experiential and even luxurious?
While safari companies in places like Kenya and South Africa have used this formula for decades, some for a century or more, the United States started jumping on the bandwagon more recently. Someone put together that 1) people have less disposable income for long distance travel 2) people are bored with traditional hotel stays and 3) more and more people are enamored with exploring and growing from time in the outdoors. As a perfect blend you have “glamping”.
I grew up around such canvas tents as my dad was a reeneactor from the revolutionary war until world war II. This meant we spent summers (sometimes a few days to a few months) “roughing it” in tents that included wood and rope beds, straw mattresses, and an endless access to prairie stars. While dust storms, a lack of running water, a washing machine, or plumbing took its toll after some time, there was an obvious upgrade to sleeping on a mat and sleeping bag. On one hand it made me really tough to dirty situations, but it also raised my awareness on what comforts are needed for a good trip.
I love camping in Colorado and Wyoming on weekends, a few days in a tent is no problem for me. I love the sound of animals and direct access to the outdoors, but my husband is “a city boy”. By city boy, I mean he does not sleep well unless there are real walls between him and nature or a toilet that flushes. He isn’t keen on deer and fox wandering right by our sleeping, let alone the potential for bears, mountain lions, and specifically SNAKES. So, as good couples do, we find a compromise, and glamping has allowed us to do just that. I get the nature I crave, and he gets the sturdier home base he needs to feel safe.
There are a lot of additional benefits to glamping over camping that I can even get behind. You don’t have to bring so much gear, you can get a shower, you can use a real toilet. This means, for someone that likes to keep packing simple, a lot less gear to get into nature. Some places like Joyful Journey even offer meals as part of your stay, not to mention the relaxation of hot springs! Ultimately it allows an experience with elevated comfort in places that traditionally required camping.
Most recently, we went to Emerald Forest Cabins in Trinidad, California to stay in a small cabin. While cabins are adjacent to glamping, I add them to the list due to reduced amenities and rural locations. These darling cabins started in the 1920s for road trippers in the Redwoods and have been updated in the decades since to be cozy escape pods in the forest. While you have heated slate floors and a kitchenette, there is no daily breakfast, meeting rooms, office center, reliable internet, and upgraded television. Which, is my kind of place 120%. It meant escapism to watch birds and look at ancient trees from our deck, and Ryan had four walls, central heat, and the ability to binge star trek (while grainy).
What is most rewarding about these places is that it allows travelers to bring money to mom and pop establishments, spend money locally and in the community, and get a unique adventure away from home offices and endless emails. The reward is high for reasonable rates, a story to come home with, and a relaxation and happy heart that can’t be found at a 5-star resort.