Getting outside on a camping trip is a great way to disconnect from the world around you and to enjoy some quality time in nature. But not everyone is as eager to get dirty and muddy on a camping trip and some people don’t get too terribly excited about sleeping on the dirt in a small tent.
Thankfully, there’s a solution for these camping-related woes: Glamping.
But what is the difference between camping and glamping?
The short answer:
Glamping and camping both involve spending the night outside and in nature. But while campers typically embrace the wilderness and opt to forgo some amenities in favor of a more nature-based experience, glamping is all about spending time outside without giving up life’s luxuries. In other words, glamping, or “glamorous camping” is the best of both worlds for people who enjoy the woods but don’t want to be uncomfortable.
Whether you’re a seasoned camping expert or you’re interested in glamping for the first time, there’s something out there for everyone. However, it can be helpful to really understand the differences between camping and glamping so that you know what you’re signing up for. Here’s what you need to know…
Is Glamping the Same as Camping?
Camping and glamping are both ways that people can spend some quality time in nature by sleeping under the stars and getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. But glamping—or glamorous camping—is a type of camping that’s popular among people who want to get outside without having to leave behind their favorite amenities.
The best way to describe the difference between camping and glamping is to give an example of what each kind of activity might entail. Keep in mind that there are many ways to glamp or camp and we can’t possibly describe them all here, though a quick overview of each adventure style should give you a good idea of what’s involved with each activity.
First things first, let’s talk about camping.
When most people refer to “camping,” they’re talking about sleeping in a tent, either in a campground or in the backcountry. While camping, you’ll bring everything you need to survive and have a good time outside, but you probably won’t have access to things like WiFi, TV, and multi-course gourmet meals.
On a camping trip, your tent will typically be fairly small, so you may not be able to stand up inside. You’ll probably also sleep on a foam or inflatable sleeping pad and use a sleeping bag to stay warm at night. The point of camping is ultimately to connect with nature and enjoy some time outside.
Conversely, when you go glamping, the emphasis is on balancing your need to be outside with your desire to stay comfortable at all times. As a result, most glamping takes place either in cabins, RVs, camper vans, or in large tents (canvas tents are very popular for glamping).
Most glampers will bring larger air mattresses, blankets, bed sheets, and pillows so that they can create a sleeping space that’s similar to what they have at home. Glamping meals are often a bit more gourmet than regular camping meals, too. Depending on where you’re glamping, you may also have access to WiFi, hot showers, and other creature comforts.
As you can see, the difference between camping and glamping is a fine line as it’s all about how you view your own adventures. But as a general rule, campers are more willing to give up certain “luxuries” in exchange for a more rustic experience.
What’s Considered Glamping?
The term ‘glamping’ can be used to refer to a huge range of different adventure styles that involve sleeping out under the stars in a cozy, home-like setting.
For some glampers, this involves staying in a spacious canvas tent that’s outfitted with everything from a queen-size mattress and regular furniture. In other cases, glamping can take place in a cozy cabin or in an RV. There’s no strict definition as to what constitutes “glamping,” so you can really choose your own adventure.
It’s worth noting that many people who go glamping choose to do so at purpose-built “glampgrounds” or at resorts and vacation rentals that cater specifically to this style of camping.
Since glamping normally involves quite a lot of gear, it can sometimes be easier for people to simply rent a glamping tent, cabin, or RV for a few nights than it is to buy and transport all that stuff on their own. Many glampgrounds also offer great amenities like hot showers, WiFi, catered meals, and hot tubs, which you can’t necessarily get if you set up your glamping tent at a regular campground.
Is Glamping Better Than Camping?
Glamping and camping are two totally different outdoor activities and neither one is inherently better than the other.
For people who like to head out on no-frills nature-based adventures, particularly in the backcountry, camping might be the better option. Camping is arguably not as “comfortable” as glamping because you don’t have access to as many amenities. But with experience and the right equipment, even a regular camping trip can be very fun and comfortable.
Alternatively, if you want to spend more time outside but you don’t want to give up some of your creature comforts, glamping can be an awesome option.
You can’t necessarily go glamping deep in the wilderness (though there are some luxury wilderness lodges out there). But, if that’s not your intention anyway, then glamping is worth considering.
Glamping can also be a nice introductory activity for people who are new to outdoor adventures, however, it’s a worthy option in its own right for anyone that prioritizes their comfort above all else.
To Glamp or Not to Glamp
Both camping and glamping are fun pastimes for outdoors-minded folks. The main difference between the two is that glamping is more comfort-focused than camping.
But there are countless ways to glamp and camp and neither option is inherently better than the other. It’s ultimately up to you to decide what your personal adventure style is and to plan a trip that meets your unique needs.
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David Parnell is the founder and lead editor at Trail and Summit, who enjoys writing on a wide range of topics from travel trailers to trail running. He’s an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.