It’s no secret that many of us are turning to the great outdoors for travel and adventure — perhaps more so now than ever before. And while getting up close and personal with Mother Nature can certainly give us more than our share of incredible scenery and experiences, a typical tent stay doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone.
So why not consider transforming camping … to glamping? With a few relatively low-cost tweaks, you can be a lot more comfortable when you’re sleeping out under the stars! Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to take your outdoor accommodations to the next level, and boost your overall enjoyment … especially if you’re not terribly in touch with your roughing-it side.
1. Plan For Plenty Of Room
The first thing you’ll want to consider is your tent. We recently opted to purchase a new tent and decided we wanted plenty of headroom, plus ample space for our gear. We are car campers — and set up a basecamp as opposed to backpacking — so we didn’t need our tent to be light as a feather or overly compact. Claustrophobia isn’t our thing, and, let’s face it, it’s not exactly luxe or comfortable to have to crawl into your sleeping space, either. We ended up purchasing Coleman’s 8-person Montana dome tent. There was plenty of room for our small family, our accessories, and our pampered pooch (and yes, we brought his bed for him as well!). We really liked the tent’s large screened and zippered windows, and how easy it was to put together. All in all, it was a winner, and the price for us — occasional glampers — couldn’t be beat.
2. Choose Your Sleeping Setup Carefully
Even in a nice, spacious tent, you’re still going to be sleeping on the hard ground unless you plan ahead, and we’re talking beyond the typical backpacking sleeping bag or mat. In our minds, a good air mattress is a must. While they are a bit heavy and bulky — even folded up — they make an enormous amount of difference in the quality of sleep you’ll get during your camping experience. You’ll want something tough that can stand up to uneven ground without running the risk of a puncture or leak. Some models specifically designed for camping come with built-in pumps, but we just brought our guest air mattress from home. Queen-sized and extra plush, it worked just as well to elevate our experience. We consider this an essential key to glamping!
Also, leaving the sleeping bags behind and actually making up your bed with plush pillows and nicer linens adds a luxe touch to your tent. Sure, it’s an extra set-up step, but won’t take much time and will help to make you feel that much more comfortable.
Pro Tip: Make sure you bring extra batteries that fit your air mattress pump in case you burn through them. A semi-inflated air mattress is no fun.
3. Throw It Down
Consider bringing a couple of small inexpensive throw rugs with you when it’s time to pack for your glamping trip. They are functional — you’ll want to take your boots or shoes off before entering your tent to prevent tears or rips on the floor — but also help make the space, inside and out, look a little more, well … homey. Consider adding one inside by the side of your bed (or beds) for a little extra style and comfort. It’s pleasant not to feel plastic on your bare feet first thing in the morning, especially if it’s a bit chilly.
4. Light It Up!
This is one of our favorite tips. Sure, the stars will be bright, and if you’re lucky, the moon full, but there’s just something about the extra glow of lanterns! We love the solar Solvinden lanterns available at IKEA. They are super-light, squish down to nothing, and come with hooks so you can hang them inside or outside your tent, as well as from nearby tree branches. The next morning, just make sure they get direct sunlight and recharge so they’ll be ready to glow all over again. Solar string lights are also fun to hang around your campsite, just make sure to also give them the light they need to recharge. For a small, stylish lantern for inside your tent, check out the Black Diamond Moji Lantern. It’s adorable, functional and throws off enough light to allow you to easily read a book in your comfy tent long after the campfire burns down. It’s also stylish enough that you might just make it part of your at-home decor, too!
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Accessorize
After a long day on the lake, hiking on the trails, or exploring the shore, there’s something really reassuring about coming back to a camp that’s welcoming, comfortable, and feels like a haven instead of a reality-show survival competition! As you start to assemble your glamping pieces, don’t be afraid to coordinate. Matching colors to complementary patterns when considering linens, rugs, pillows, and other items will help create a soothing space for you to hang your hat each night after all that outdoor adventure.
Pro Tip: One of our favorite outdoors-meets-indoors accessories for the tent is a small, colorful, and lightweight bedside table. These little places to stash your lantern, a glass of water, or a favorite book help make that tent feel more like home.
6. Bring Your Favorite Foodie Snacks
We all love s’mores and hot dogs, but if you want a little more than a kid’s menu to go along with your glamping, don’t hesitate to meal plan. Your favorite foodie staples will actually fit right into your weekend. Marinated chicken and steak keep well in the cooler and can be easily grilled to perfection over a campfire or pit (just be sure to make sure you’ve got plenty of ice on hand, or access to it, to ensure food safety). Your favorite salads can easily be assembled and sealed in glass Mason jars and dressed and tossed when ready to serve. Many favorite foodie items — including crudites, cheese, and charcuterie, can also easily be prepped ahead of time and tucked into a corner of your cooler. And yet others, including nuts, crackers, cornichons, and olives, don’t need any special storage at all. Bottom line: Going fancy on the food isn’t that difficult.
Also, there’s no hard and fast beverage rule for glamping. If you love beer, by all means, bring your favorites. But remember — some terrific wine also now comes in cans or even eco-pouches. During a recent trip, we brought along Underwood pinot noir and bubbly rose. We didn’t worry about fussing with a bottle, the wines paired well with our food, and they were easy on the budget, to boot!
One last dining tip: Think about bringing a tablecloth and even inexpensive plastic, reusable dishes and barware. Not only does it make your table more elegant, but it’s easier on the earth, too!
7. Choose Your Tunes
Nothing sets a mood like a well-curated playlist. Pre-load one onto your phone, bring along a small Bluetooth speaker, and prepare to relax and unwind to your favorite music. The beauty of this set-up is that it relies on short-range radio-waves, not an internet connection. So even if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can still enjoy a fabulous soundtrack out under the stars!
8. Invite The Outdoors In (To A Point!)
Staying near a lake, river, or — lucky you — an ocean? Bring shells, pretty rocks, or sea glass back to decorate your dining or play space. Hiking the woods? Grab a fistful of flowers (if permitted, of course!) and throw them into an empty can or jar for an extra style point on tables or inside your tent.
Elevating a ho-hum camping experience into a luxe glamp isn’t that tough — it just takes a little bit of extra planning and panache. Investing in just a few pieces, and using what you have on hand at home, makes all the difference in the overall experience. Try it, we think you’ll agree!
One last thing: There’s nothing at all glamourous about being attacked by critters during your adventure. Make sure to zip up your tent screen immediately as you’re entering or exiting to prevent mosquitoes from spoiling the mood. Also, be sure to keep your cooler locked in your vehicle overnight to make sure your food and other staples aren’t raided or ruined by overnight bandits like raccoons — and consider bringing along fabric softening sheets. They repel animals and keep your tent smelling fresh!
Oh, and if you’d rather have your glampsite set up for you, consider these awesome glamping spots: