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Someone recently asked us if camping in a luxury motorhome is what the term “glamping” means. Well, it might and it might not. It depends. Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
So what exactly is glamping? The term was coined as a mash-up of the words “glamorous” and “camping.” So sure, while camping in a 43-foot diesel pusher might be pretty glam compared to a tent, it may or may not actually be glamping.
We know there are some misconceptions about glamping and what it means. So today we’re here to set the record straight on the question, “What is glamping?” and to offer some thoughts on how it differs from camping and RVing.
What’s the Difference Between Glamping, Camping, and RVing?
The terms “RVing” and “camping” are often used interchangeably, but they really don’t reflect the same experience or mean exactly the same thing. Traditionally, “camping” meant getting outside and sleeping on the ground, in the woods, in a tent or without shelter, cooking over an open fire, eating at a picnic table (if one was available), using a shovel to dig a “toilet” — you get the idea. Camping meant — camping!
When hard-sided campers came along, folks would still go camping to enjoy nature and outdoor activities, but they’d sleep inside the camper on a bed, use a table inside the camper, cook on propane stoves at times, and some even had campers with running water, toilets, and appropriate holding tanks.
RVs expanded the comforts of home while camping even more, and many types were driveable, so now we were camping in little homes on wheels.
More recently, the term “glamping” has emerged as a way to express fancy camping.
But there are fundamental differences between glamping, camping, and RVing – so let’s start by taking a look at each one.
Traditionally, camping refers to the idea of sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag — either directly under the stars or in a tent or lean-to, with very few home-like amenities.
With a basic level of comfort in mind, some campers use self-inflating sleeping mats or even an inflatable mattress in their tents. Some may even carry a portable toilet or portable power station for devices, lights, or small 12V camping coolers or fridges.
For the most part, the term “camping” refers to the most basic ways to spend some days and nights in the great outdoors and is, many would argue, the most authentic way to camp.
An “RV” is a Recreational Vehicle. RVing, as most of us know, refers to traveling and camping in an RV!
RVing can involve any type of RV from small Class B camper vans, to Class C and Class A motorhomes, to pop-up campers, travel trailers, 5th wheels, and toy haulers.
RVs generally have running water, toilets, showers, and holding tanks for fresh, gray, and black water. They have kitchen/galley areas with propane stoves (some with ovens), refrigerators, and microwave or convection ovens. RVs have beds to accommodate any number of people, and many have dinettes or even full dining areas, depending on the size and type of RV.
RVs are essentially small homes on wheels, with the term “small” varying widely in scope across all types of RVs. They have most of the amenities of home including power centers that incorporate batteries, solar panels, inverters, and converters to offer 12V and 120V accessories throughout the RV. Many have generators as additional sources of off-grid power.
With all of this said, you can see how the answer to the question “What is glamping?” could easily be misconstrued to include RVing, because RVing is definitely glamorous. But is it actually glamping?
What is glamping? In general, glamping is camping (overnighting and spending time in nature) with any variety of modern conveniences and luxuries, typically in a location designed and provided by a third party, often in scenic and beautiful outdoor locations.
So, glamping can include expansive tents with furniture and the ability to run electrical conveniences. It can cover all of that and more, even adding running water and various resort amenities to the list of available comforts.
The shelters used for glamping can be anything from spacious tents with multiple rooms and wooden sides to teepees or yurts, tree houses, or geodesic domes. The shelters generally have some sort of frame, and a variety of amenities and luxuries are provided, depending on the glamping destination.
One very popular type of glamping is probably the most common cause of people inadvertently conflating the terms “glamping” and “RVing” and that’s the use of classic RVs as glamping destinations.
Are Glamping and RVing the Same Thing?
Glamping is a term that raises the level of camping to include fancier places to rest your head in nature amid a range of amenities (and sometimes downright luxuries). The term also usually refers to static structures set out in a particular location in nature, as opposed to a moving structure like an RV.
When the owner of a beautiful, remote property installs and outfits several classic Airstream travel trailers with down comforters and other luxurious amenities, then rents them out AirBnB style (and maybe even includes breakfast), that’s glamping, even though it takes place in an RV.
Once that camper is parked in one place and rented out as a luxe getaway rental, using it ceases to be RVing and becomes a glamping experience.
Because RVs can indeed be luxurious, some may think that driving one to a lovely, remote location means that they’re glamping. But traveling to a scenic spot in your own RV (or even one you rented for the trip) isn’t actually glamping. It’s “RVing.”
What glamping does is place comfortable accommodations and conveniences in some gorgeous natural environments. This allows those who would like to experience staying in these awesome locations in nature the ability to do so while also enjoying a host of creature comforts. And those locations are mostly created and maintained by someone else… you’re just renting the space, and enjoying a relaxing experience.
RVing, on the other hand, typically involves being on the move in a vehicle. While RVs can certainly be quite glamorous, they’re mobile in nature. They’re something individuals own (and personalize to their liking), or rent, not just stationary lodging that you inhabit for a short stay.
Does Glamping Require Plumbing and Electricity?
Glamping does not require plumbing or electricity, though many (if not most) glamping venues do provide one or both of these amenities and more.
Some glamping “pods” as they’re called require electricity, running water, and private toilets in their particular locations, but as a general rule, “glamping” does not automatically imply that plumbing and electricity will be supplied.
Some venues also include heat and air conditioning as part of the glamping experience. (The type of heat provided varies.)
Amenities at glamping sites vary considerably. Some provide kitchens, while in other locations you’ll be expected to grill your food outside. Other glamping sites are full-scale resorts where fine dining will be a part of your glamping package. Breakfast may be delivered to your “tent” in some locations, and amenities such as guided hiking tours and spas are available in others.
A camper should always ask to be sure that the amenities they desire are part of the glamping experience they’re researching for a future stay.
Are RVing and Glamping “Real” Camping?
It’s important to recognize that glamping isn’t for everyone. In fact, some traditional campers don’t consider “glamping” (or RVing, for that matter) to be authentic camping at all.
Many lovers of the outdoors have a great appreciation for nature and prefer to sleep on the ground, either in a small tent or directly under the stars, and find running water, toilets, electricity, and other home-like modern amenities to spoil the benefits of going camping in the first place.
And that’s okay! Fortunately, there’s room for all of us in the great outdoors, and we can each enjoy traveling and camping in whatever way we most enjoy it. Glamping and RVing are just different ways to camp.
How Can You Find Great Glamping Locations?
Since glamping tends to be more of a hotel-like experience, you’re less likely to find any locations using the typical apps/services you might use to find campsites. But that doesn’t mean that they’re hard to find… you just need to know where to look! There are several places online to search for your next glamping destination, including:
- HipCamp.com (in addition to some less-than-traditional camping locations, HipCamp includes lots of great glamping spots, too)
- AirBnB.com (that’s right, the service many use for hotel alternatives has glamping options as well)
- Glamping.com (well, the name says it all, doesn’t it?)
How Can You Find Campsites for Any Type of Camping (and Even Some Glamping)?
The Dyrt’s app and website allow you to search by location and also by the type of camping you’re interested in, including glamping in cabins, tent cabins, and yurts. It’s one of the planning apps we use and recommend.
The Dyrt offers information on over a million camping locations and includes photos and reviews from other actual campers who have experienced camping in the very location you’re considering. This is priceless information that offers a true view of a camping location before you make a decision to drive there and find out for yourself.
The Dyrt has a free version that no camper (of any type!) should be without, and a PRO version that you can try for free for 90-days (and is well worth the meager $35 annual fee if you decide to stay) using this coupon code:
Use the "Go To The Deal" button to access the website, then click the "Redeem Your Gift" button found there to start your FREE 90-DAY TRIAL (a credit card is required, but you can cancel at any...Show More
Use the "Go To The Deal" button to access the website, then click the "Redeem Your Gift" button found there to start your FREE 90-DAY TRIAL (a credit card is required, but you can cancel at any time).
NOTE: the discount code field should fill in automatically. If it doesn't, click "I have a discount code" and enter code RVGEEKS90 to start your free 90-day trial.Show Less
In addition to The Dyrt PRO’s discounts on camping, check out our post How to Save Money On Campgrounds for other ways to save $ on your next camping/RVing trip!
The next time you’re asked “What is glamping?” you’ll have an answer. Glamping is glamorous camping that comes in many different shapes and sizes with a great variety of amenities to suit your camping fancy – whatever that may be. But it isn’t the same as RVing.
In truth, camping in and of itself is a true luxury — an experience in the awe-inspiring arms of nature that many of us are so fortunate to have the opportunity to embrace, whether from a small backpacking tent, a luxury motorhome, or anything in between.
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