Glamour camping–glamping–is catching on everywhere.
What is it, you ask? It’s camping for those of us who prefer a nice glass of iced tea to cowboy coffee, a real bed (or as close as we can get) to a cot, but still want to enjoy the outdoors. We envision picnic tables with tablecloths. We prefer to sit in real chairs, chairs with backs, not something that’s a couple of pieces of nylon slug between poles. We see ourselves cooking mouthwatering meals in well-seasoned cast iron pans swinging gently from a tripod mounted over a beautiful campfire. In short, we imagine a woodland journey that’s a little more upscale than your typical bedroll-and-bugs trip. Or as Dictionary.com defines it, “the activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home.”
Want to try glamping? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Once you have the tent (palatial pavilion, or tricked-out ravel trailer) of your dreams, think about putting some of the following things into it:
Tidying Up: The Giant Stainless Steel Coffee Pot gives you up to 140 ounces of hot water, plenty for shaving, tea, or instant coffee, without a campfire. Add in the included grounds basket to brew up fresh coffee, too. It’s an age-old solution that works brilliantly for the glamper.
Infrastructure like this is vital to the glamper–often, all it takes is a solid foundation to make things feel more comfortable. I’m missing the camping gene, and have found that if I have a snug place to sleep and a decent chair, the entire get-to-know-nature experience is much more fun!
Glamping Things Up: Pretty and Practical The Lehman’s Way
Sure, those plastic lanterns are convenient, but they do lack style. Try an old-fashioned oil lantern to add some sparkle–look for a colored finish, or a bright tinned finish. Olive oil lamps are cute, compact and easy to use–ideal for new campers and glampers alike! Remember to keep all oil or kerosene fueled lamps topped with globes for safety’s sake. Never leave a candle or burning lantern unattended.
Once dinner’s made, serve it on fun enameled plates and bowls. Again, they’re lightweight, easy to pack, plus the enameled surface makes it easy to clean. Best of all, no litter from disposable plates!
Blue enamelware with those classic white speckles will add to your campsite’s country-with-a-kick feel. Keep the theme going with tablecloths. Vinyl tablecloths in fun prints are great for longer glamp-outs–just wipe and they’re clean. For a more luxe feel, stick with cloth table covers.
Wash up people or dishes in a large enamelware kettle, which can also be put use for lightweight laundry–like those tablecloths. Pack in your regular flatware, too. Washing up the plates and flatware won’t take long, and bio-degradable soaps clean well and rinse completely. Keep a few dishtowels handy to dry and cover clean dishes, or dry and tuck away in a sturdy box or chest that provides storage and be used for seating.
And why not take along a hand-cranked blender too? It’s great for whipping up scrambled eggs, pancake batters, and, of course, iced coffees, smoothies and other cold drink treats. A lightweight, compact battery-operated fan will keep you cool while you’re on blender duty. If you crave fresh-baked sweet treats instead, (or even a panini), a pie iron is a must. They’re easy to use, and simple to clean, and come as single or double irons. And don’t forget a popcorn popper–campfire stories aren’t just the same without freshly popped corn.
If you don’t think you’re the campfire type, don’t despair! Glamping is still within your reach. Use a portable grill to make hot meals as easily as you do on your backyard grill at home. Heat dishwater on it while you eat–don’t waste that precious fuel–and just empty the ash out between uses. If you use hardwood charcoal, the ash is more easily biodegradeable, and breaks down quickly when spread in a thin layer.
Think Outside the Tent
When you’re preparing for your first glamping expedition, don’t limit yourself to traditional camping equipment. Hot dog forks, marshmallow roasters and their storage bags are de rigueur, of course, but think about what items you may already have around your home that can be pressed into service as ‘glamping equipment’. Small things, like cutting boards, soaps and shampoos (biodegradable, of course),or a small rug next to the bed keep things cleaner and more comfortable. Keep drinks colder with insulated, lightweight tumblers. Pack a few books to read to smaller children. Gather older ones and the rest of the family around the fire at the end of the day, and talk about what you’ve seen and done. It’s all about making the experience a little more fun, a little more fancy and a little more memorable. Get out there and get glamping!
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Editor’s Note: This article was first posted June 2012.