The holiday season is here once again, and for many families that means it’s time to travel.
But while you stay with the in-laws or book a hotel room, others are taking a different approach.
They are “glamping” – a term that aims to put “glamour” into camping. And for anyone whose New Year’s resolutions include spending more time with family in 2016, glamping also provides the perfect way to do that.
“If you want to enjoy nature, but you are not the roughing-it type, glamping is a wonderful compromise and has become especially popular in the RV community,” says Susan Schlapkohl, co-founder of InterVac Design, which makes built-in vacuum cleaner systems for RVs, boats and small homes. “It has become such a different lifestyle than RVing used to be. It’s not just going into the woods and cooking Beanie Weenies any more.”
Glamping as a word and a movement has been around less than a decade, but Glamping. com, which has a blog dedicated to this luxurious version of camping, points out that the concept is not that new.
Hundreds of years ago, Turkish Ottomans set up elaborate tent cities as a mobile palace for their sultan, and in the early 20th century wealthy Americans and Europeans often insisted on a touch of luxury for their African safaris.
These days, you don’t need to be a sultan or extraordinarily wealthy to add a slice of glamour as you trek into the wilderness.
Recreational vehicles are adding features that make roughing it much less rough for those who prefer to feel pampered as they venture into the great outdoors for a brush with nature.
Meanwhile, some RV destinations include spas, equestrian facilities and other amenities not usually associated with the back-to-nature, more primitive style of camping.
These days, RVs with fireplaces, big screen TVs and even patios are not uncommon, Schlapkohl says. Meanwhile, built-in vacuum cleaners help holiday “glampers” sweep up any crumbs left by sugar cookies or pumpkin pie crusts.
“I think women especially like the features that make their life in the RV a little more convenient,” Schlapkohl says. “When you are glamping, you are there to enjoy yourself, so you want cleanup time to be as quick and simple as possible. Instead of a hauling out a stick vacuum that takes up storage space and constantly needs to be recharged, you just pull out the hose from the one that’s built-in. Pretty soon, you’re sipping a glass of wine and sitting in front of the fireplace.”
Of course, the fireplace is electric, so you won’t be roasting any chestnuts, but the ambiance and charm are still there.
Rugged outdoorsmen and women may pooh-pooh the whole “glamping” phenomenon, but Schlapkohl says there are definite advantages.
• Home away from home. Because today’s manufacturers are building feature-rich RVs that provide as many amenities as possible, the allure of hitting the road is greater than ever. You get all – or at least most – of the comforts of home, but the view outside your window changes regularly. Many retired baby boomers are even ditching their houses for fulltime RVing.
• Meeting the likeminded. People who embrace the RV lifestyle become something of a community. They socialize with each other, trade tips for improving life on the road, and during the holidays may even share dessert recipes.
• Family togetherness. Glamping has something to offer all ages. Both parents and children can enjoy the experience and some families may want to turn a family glamping trip into an annual tradition, Schlapkohl says. Last year, spending more time with family and friends was one of the top five New Year’s resolutions, according to the Nielsen Company. Glamping without a doubt helps you accomplish that, she says.
• Enjoying the outdoors. Don’t forget that “camping” is one of the two root words that form “glamping.” That means nature is still involved, just not as much of the sweaty, itchy, shivery version. You get to soak in beautiful scenery, head down hiking trails and spot wildlife, but without making yourself uncomfortable in the bargain.
“It lets you be part of the camping experience,” Schlapkohl says, “even if you aren’t the roughing-it type.”