So, glamping is officially a thing. For a while, it was travel’s secret that only those in the know knew, then it became a trend, and now it has reached enough critical mass that it is labeled with the highly scientific name of “a thing”.
It’s easy to understand why. As an outdoors enthusiast, any chance to spend time in nature is one that I will grab with both hands, and needing to experience this new camping style has provided me with more than one reason to hit the open road and head into the outdoors.
I grew up in South Africa, a country that has more campsites than you can shake a stick at. Camping during Christmas, when schools close for five weeks was our big holiday of the year. I’d be lying if I said my family were the most rustic campers out there, but we really only had a caravan that weathered a few hailstorms over the years, a tent and some stretchers. Oh, and a little camping stove that delighted us kids to no end. Look! A miniature kitchen appliance! Suffice to say that luxury was a little thin on the ground.
And this suited us fine. For kids, little else comes close to the adventure and freedom that a camping holiday offers. A whole day to explore, climb, swim and run, and toasted marshmallows on the campfire in the evening. Life doesn’t get any better. In the past few years, research is starting to back up just how important and beneficial it is for kids to spend time in nature. Luxury linen was not a consideration for us at all. Just keep the marshmallows coming was our motto. (It’s a good motto. I still live by it.)
But one of the keys to a happy life is to be open to new experiences and when I heard about glamping, or luxury camping, or posh camping as it is sometimes known as, I was intrigued.
Why glamp in the first place?
For some purists, glamping will never be proper camping. For others, it’s the gateway drug that leads them from hotels to the outdoors.
To each their own, but glamping does offer a completely unique experience, especially when it comes to accommodation. It’s fun to try new things and sleeping in a tipi is definitely fun! So is sleeping in a yurt! And so is sleeping in a bird nest! In fact, getting creative with accommodation is one of the areas in which glamping has really excelled, and why it has drawn such a huge following.
Glamping also takes care of the many needs one group could have. I’m still up for a bit of canvas and a sleeping bag under the night sky, but I do have a few stiffer joints than I used to and a good quality mattress helps keep things flexible. There is also a new family in our social circle and a wonderful older lady, who at 90, feels the call for time outdoors as strongly as ever. The convenience that glamping provides comes in handy for the young parents, who welcome a warm glamping pod when they have to get two rascals bathed and dried, and for the older lady, whose mind is still 25 but whose knees definitely aren’t. A sleeping bag just isn’t an option for her, but she still loves being in nature.
Plus, marshmallows are as big a feature of glamping trips as they are of camping ones!
But what does it cost?
No doubt about it, prices for glamping are starting to look decidedly five star. This is probably in direct correlation to glamping becoming “a thing”.
Don’t let that put you off. The essence of camping is simple, to get back into nature. Glamping also has that ethos, with a touch of luxury and uniqueness, and it is possible to get back in nature while glamping for a reasonable price.
Individually owned glamping sites are better priced than chains - Yes, hospitality chains are getting in on the act. And bringing their pricing structures with them. I spotted one glamping park, owned by a very well-known five star luxury hotel chain, for $1,700 a night. Yes, really. Once I picked myself up off the floor, I found another glamping park in the same region, owned by a couple who lived on site, for less than a tenth of that. I’m not here to knock the chains, but I like putting my money into the pockets of smaller establishments. And I like not selling a body part to afford a glamping getaway.
Decide on how much luxury you want - I love a good mattress and a new experience, be that a new place to explore or some quirky accommodation. I’m not really bothered about chandeliers or spa treatments. Glamping covers a wide range of offerings now and there is nothing to feel guilty about if you do want the chandeliers in your tipi and spa treatments. The point is to find a glamping park that offers what you’re looking for and pay accordingly. Top tip: some “traditional” campsites are starting to offer a small amount of glamping options on their sites. These are often reminiscent of how glamping was prior to trend status, and are very competitively priced.
Bring a crowd - Some glamping sites offer very handsome discounts for large numbers, and even really luxurious glamping sites become very reasonably priced once you bring a few extended family members or friends. It’s not by accident that more and more couples are choosing to get married at glamping sites.
Keep tabs on the seasons - As glamping has become mainstream, it has adopted mainstream travel practices. Peak season is always going to be summer and the prices will match accordingly. But here’s the thing, glamping during off peak season is a real treat. I live in Ireland now, and my favourite season to go glamping in this beautiful, but mostly wet and chilly, country is winter. Snuggled in a yurt, with a book and a hot chocolate close to hand, while the wind blows outside and the power of nature is all around, is a kind of luxury that puts me at peace with the world. I don’t glamp here during the summer at all.
Follow on social media - Glamping sites are internet savvy and many will communicate with regular and prospective customers on social media in real time. Keep yours eyes posted on twitter, facebook and Instagram as amazing offers are often listed there and the early bird definitely catches the first worm.
In addition, websites are a very handy way to get an idea of costs and see what your buck is buying you when it comes to glamping. In the UK and Ireland, www.campsited.com lists glamping sites along with campsites of other descriptions.
As for me, I’m stocking up on marshmallow supplies. Winter is not that far away and the temptation to glamp is already growing!