Whenever I think about going camping, I have visions of myself sitting around a fire. It is a crisp, clear night, and I have perfectly rosy cheeks and artfully messy hair. There is a warm cup of hot cocoa nestled between my hands and a cozy blanket wrapped around my shoulders.
And then, two seconds later, the reality of rock-hard roll mats, leaky tents, and lumpy sleeping bags replaces the tantalizing luxuries of my imagination. I realize that instead of the dreamt-up camping idyll, I’m more likely to have bags under my eyes and a sore back from a sleepless night trying to find a comfortable position on the ground.
While I love a good adventure and spending time outdoors, I am not above admitting that I do prefer to have some of my creature comforts! Thankfully, you don’t have to compromise on luxury to spend a night under the stars. Here are six ideas to help you become a professional glamper and elevate your outdoor experience.
Bring your own spa
You can create your own private wellness retreat wherever you are, whether in a forest or up a mountain. And what could be more relaxing than sitting in a hot tub with a glass of bubbly at sunset? I know that it’s completely over the top, but hear me out.
Luxury isn’t always complicated or expensive. I would, for example, recommend a hot tub of the collapsible variety. You could also look into something a bit more unconventional (but still fun and relaxing), like this hammock hot tub. While many of the tubs come with heating units, there’s still the issue of water. To avoid multiple kettle runs, I suggest the Honda WX10 portable water pump. It is capable of filling your portable paradise in under 10 minutes.
And don’t forget to pack a few spa essentials to round it out, such as a soundtrack to set the mood, your favorite body cream, or that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving.
Lose the sleeping bag
Sleeping bags and tents are staples of any camping trip. Not everyone, though, likes the feeling of being trapped inside what some people (like me) might morbidly call a soft coffin with a face hole. I prefer to move my arms and legs and avoid feeling like a human burrito, which is why I suggest you ditch the sleeping bag altogether.
Instead, pack a good air mattress with plenty of blankets and a comfortable pillow. Your back will thank you. With a decent night’s sleep, you’ll actually be able to enjoy the rest of your time outdoors!
Tip: Be sure to pick one with an internal electric pump (like this) so that you don’t pass out trying to inflate it.
Upgrade your tent
It’s not pleasant to picture yourself army-crawling in and out of a tent that barely has room for a duffel, let alone a person. Luckily, though, you can go ahead and toss that idea out along with that flimsy sleeping bag.
When camping with a large group, consider taking one massive tent instead of lugging around (and assembling) multiple smaller ones. Tents have come a long way in recent years and there’s a whole world of 8+ person tents that seem more like palaces.
This one sleeps 14 people, fits queen size air mattresses, has a common room, and four zippered rooms, each with their own private entrance… all for under $200 (pro tip: assemble the tent before any adult beverages are served).
You can even customize your compound by attaching numerous “pods” together with friends to create a warren that includes a dining room, bedrooms, storage, and anything else you can imagine. If your budget allows, don’t be afraid to go big.
Add some personality
The bigger your tent, the more space you have to work with, so go ahead and pick out some “furnishings” for your not-so-humble abode. Make your tent into a mini den and add some ambiance with rugs, pillows, and plenty of fairy lights to giving it a warm and welcoming vibe.
Next, grab some cozy blankets and inflatable loungers that you can relax on as the day winds down. They’re much lighter than your average camping chair, are waterproof, and surprisingly compact when folded up.
This does require a bit more time and effort, so save it for your longer excursions (or call in the professionals, like Camp’d Out, to create a badass space for you). With the right touches, you might end up creating a space that is so cozy and comfortable, you won’t want to leave.
Don’t forget the campfire
Hand in hand with sleeping bags and tents, a campfire is undoubtedly the essence of a true camping trip. You can’t make deliciously authentic s’mores without a roaring fire, enhanced by the soothing sounds of someone playing acoustic guitar as the stars appear (which is ideal but not compulsory).
Unless you were part of the Scouts, or are Bear Grylls, you may not be a pro at starting fires from scratch. But if you bring along a portable fire pit, you’ll be able to get that fire started with ease. You will thank yourself later, when you aren’t constantly being popped by hot embers and trying to escape the line of smoke. It’s also much more of a controlled fire, which tremendously cuts down the risk of accidentally burning down your entire campsite. That’s always a plus.
Ditch the tent for a campervan
If the whole idea of tents still doesn’t appeal to you (no judgment), a campervan could be the answer for you. When I say campervan, I’m not referring to those massive luxury RVs that are full-on homes on wheels.
I’m talking about the retro ones that hippies and surfers are known for driving around the world. These vans are roomy enough to be comfortable, but still have character and a wonderfully bohemian vibe.
A quick search on Instagram will reveal tons of accounts showcasing how people have remodeled the interiors of these vintage vans. However, if you don’t fancy the effort and expense for the occasional camping trip, there are van and glamping rentals around the globe. You’ll want to head out on a cross-country road trip and never look back.