– Photo by The Resort at Paws Up
Want to pack up the family and experience the great outdoors?
No need to fill up the ice chest, scrub the portable gas stove, pack the tent or inflate the air mattress.
The world of glamorous camping – or “glamping” – takes the rough edges off roughing it, combining high-end adventure with five-star amenities.
Instead of a rickety cabin, think tents decked out in king-sized memory-foam beds and Italian linens, complete with electricity and full-service bathrooms. Nearby, a pair of spa beds await your facial or massage.
Locales and services are as exotic as the accommodations are luxurious: Private tours through the Australian outback via helicopter or camel; snorkeling trips to the lagoons and reefs of Madivaru Island.
Glampers enjoy on-site sous chefs, not to mention sunrise yoga and campfire tales spun from a professional Native American storyteller.
If you want to keep moving, for example you could choose to see America via a high-end Airstream trailer that can retail for as much as $150,000 (most people rent) the model names of which – Land Yacht, International Serenity – give you a sense of the ride that you’re in for.
The world of glamping features much more than just s’mores, but the plethora of perks doesn’t mean you can’t experience a National Lampoon’s Vacation-like bump in the road.
Travel experts recommend the following steps to ensure a fun and safe excursion.
Plan ahead. As is the case with most exclusive travel destinations, getting your wild ducks in a row is absolutely rule number one.
“Glamping is not a spur-of-the-moment, last-minute trip. Many sites fill up quickly and have limited space, especially if you’re planning for more than one family,” said Christina Demmon of Montrose Travel, a full-service travel agency in Southern California.
Locale before accommodation. While the amenities at five-star glamping destinations can be impressive, the aim is to venture outside and experience nature. Decide what you want to see and do before choosing a luxury treehouse in the redwoods complete with beds, bathrooms and hot tub. Companies like Backroads and Off the Beaten Path can help you pick a destination and plan your outdoor itineraries.
Brush up on your driving skills. Trailers may be the latest craze in family travel but towing a trailer is not as easy as loading up the family SUV and hitting the road.
“Know the size of your trailer. Not every campsite is equipped to handle all sizes,” Demmon said. “If you’ve never driven a trailer, reserve a pull-through space at your designated campsite. Having to back up into a narrow parking space can be very difficult.”
Follow directions. “Make sure you have accurate directions to your site. A lot of them can be in the middle of nowhere,” advised Chloe Stein of Glampinghub. Check that your GPS is accurate, your iPhone is charged – and tuck a good, old-fashioned map in the glove compartment just in case.
Be organized. Marlene Burton and her family recently experienced a stay in a backcountry yurt operated by Victory Ranch, a luxury private community where she also owns a modern mountain vacation home just minutes from Park City.
“Find out what you actually need so you don’t overpack,” she said. That goes for food, too. “If you don’t have a chef, find out about cooking facilities and if you can have supplies driven in. No need to carry if you’re glamping.”
Burton said the experience surpassed all her expectations. The yurt, which came outfitted with beds, wine and a private chef, made for nice “vacay digs” – she calls it “glurting” for glamorous yurting – but the locale was still the main event.
“Sitting by the campfire with friends and family enjoying the night air, perfect clear skies. And millions of stars,” she said.“Doesn’t get any better!”
And when it’s time to leave, you can enjoy another great benefit – no tents to fold, sleeping bags to roll or sites to clean up.