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Glamping vs. Camping: When Is It Considered Glamping?

| Updated May 31, 2023

What constitutes glamping vs. camping is an often debated topic among outdoor enthusiasts. Let’s talk about the most cited differences in opinion and get to the bottom of this controversy!

A portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping,” it’s not exactly clear who or why the term “glamping” was even invented. 

Wikipedia claims that the word first appeared in the United Kingdom in 2005. It was then added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016.

But the concept of glamping has certainly been around much longer. Reports of 16th century Scottish Earl of Atholl had luxurious tents constructed in the Highlands so he could travel with glamorous amenities from his palace.

What’s in a Name?

camping vs. glamping
Roughing it?

So perhaps the glamping term was devised by advertisers as a way to promote camping activities for people who didn’t like camping. 

After all, some people love to spend nights outdoors but happen to have a spouse or family who does not. Glamping might have been the way those campers could compromise to get that desired time outdoors.

Today though, the glamping term is used a lot to serve a different purpose. It has become a label to describe people who don’t adhere to more traditional methods of “roughing it” outdoors.

The word has even become polarizing in some circles. Many consider being called a glamper an insult. This is especially true for those who consider themselves camping purists, who rely on only the basics to connect them with nature.

So what lies at the core of this argument? What are the various factors that determine the differences between glamping vs. camping?

With perspectives from riveting comments on a post on the RV Lifestyle Facebook group, let’s dig into this.

Glamping vs. Camping Definitions

How luxurious can it be?

The Oxford definition of glamping reads “A form of camping that involves accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.”

Okay, so according to the dictionary, glamping is a type of camping. Then let’s look at the definition of camping!

Turns out, this isn’t helpful, as there are many different definitions for camping across several resources. One definition reads “The activity of spending a vacation living in a camp, tent, or camper.”

By that definition, you only need to be spending nights on a campground to be considered camping. The tent could be as luxurious as you want it to be, or not even be a tent at all. It can be a camper or RV, and it’s still technically camping.

So going back to the Oxford definition, the keywords are “more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.” This implies it is up to the eye of the beholder what traditional camping means exactly. So whatever is more luxurious than where that personal bar is set is considered glamping.

Since it’s a matter of opinion, what are the typical categories that campers use to differentiate glamping vs. camping?

Sleeping in Tents vs. Sleeping Off the Ground

camping vs. glamping
Sleeping on the ground…

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “camping?” A lot of people would say “tents.” 

So it’s no surprise that camping enthusiasts draw the line of camping at sleeping anywhere but a tent on the natural ground.

But there are complicating factors to this point of view. For instance, some are physically unable to sleep on the ground in a tent due to health conditions. The only way they can camp is off the ground. Would that situation be glamping? 

Also, what about luxurious tents, such as the ones in Big Bend National Park in Texas?

Air Conditioning vs. Facing the Weather

tour of our leisure travel vans wonder camping vs. glamping
WE like air conditioning 🙂

Another defining trait of glampers is controlling the climate they face. Purists believe it isn’t really camping if you’re not facing the natural elements.

Heat, rain, snow and wind are of course part of the camping experience. To have the ability to control your comfort under almost any condition is another trait considered glamping.

Many campers who have faced inclement weather while camping do not want that experience again. So they upgrade to glamping to be more comfortable. 

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RV Hookups vs. Dry Camping

photo of a dispersed camping boondocking and RV dry camping spot glamping vs. camping
Our dispersed camping boondocking spot in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern Michigan

For those in the RV world, many have their own relative definitions for glamping.

For example, some say just being at a campground with electric hookups and other utilities constitutes glamping. Only boondocking, they say, is real camping since you have to make do without human-provided conveniences, like a dishwasher.

On the other hand, a campground is a campground. The style of camping aside, it’s all still the act of camping.

Backpacking vs. Everything Else

For many even having a rig at all is considered glamping. 

For some, camping means carrying everything you need to set up camp on your back. Some even consider using a trunk to haul more stuff as disqualifying.

All Nature vs. Amenities

Some campgrounds provide amenities such as pools, boat docks, shops, golf, or even a water park.

This is another factor that campers identify as glamping. The destination itself not being all natural means it’s not even a “real” campground.

The Bottom Line

glamping vs. camping
I there a line?

We’ve established that it can completely be a matter of perspective between glamping vs. camping. However, if the negative connotation can be set aside, what should be considered glamping is fairly simple.

A glamping blog specifies glamping as “comfortable camping.” This means that one who glamps gets all the best that camping has to offer without some of the inconveniences.

Some of those inconveniences include sleeping on uncomfortable ground, getting rained on, and carrying heavy stuff around.

Meanwhile, glampers still get to experience all the good that comes with camping. This includes immediate access to the outdoors, campfires and s’mores, and quality time with friends and family. 

It’s easy to see why glamping is gaining in popularity.

If you’re glamping, you’re still camping, only comfortably. Glamping is a completely reasonable thing to do, and up to you whether you consider it a dirty word. 

The biggest consensus during this glamping vs. camping debate is despite the definitions, the most important thing is to enjoy your experience.

Are You a Camper or a Glamper?

Do you have any more definitions of what is different about glamping vs. camping? Let us know in the comments!

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-10-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

14 Responses to “Glamping vs. Camping: When Is It Considered Glamping?”

March 13, 2022at6:03 pm, The 5 Best Coolers for Camping (2022) said:

[…] including a bottle opener, cup holders, exterior storage pocket, and a butler tray. Sounds like a glamping cooler to […]

January 25, 2022at6:15 am, RV Vs. Tiny House: Which Is Better For You? | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Glamping vs. Camping: When is it Considered Glamping? […]

October 22, 2021at2:04 pm, Fred Raco said:

Glamping or camping, at what point do you make a distinction? People who do not camp at all always say we are not camping because we have a nice motor home. I tell them that we did everything from primitive camping, travel trailers, fifth wheels and now a diesel pusher. We progressed throughout the years. I consider it camping even though some of the RV resorts we stay at are just like any other resort except we sleep and reside in our own camper. We also boondock in remote places where you bring in everything you are going to need or use. Call it what you want. I don’t use the term glamping when I talk about our trips.

October 19, 2021at12:52 pm, Kathleen Wildrick said:

I’ve always thought that the difference between camping and glamping is the size of your RV, plus its design and contents. If you have a large RV with 3-4 slides, a dishwasher, a washer/dryer, multiple toilets, marble floors, and other fancy appliances and furniture, you’re definitely glamping. If you have the basics but nothing fancy, and you’re in your camper anywhere, whether boondocking or in a campground with full hookups, you are camping. I consider the word glamping to be an insult.

October 19, 2021at10:51 am, David Beuke said:

Enjoying yourself in the outdoors is the main reason camping.

October 17, 2021at10:51 pm, Jan Paul said:

I have no problem calling myself a glamper, nor do I have a problem riding an e-bike. Some may consider both to be “cheating” but we are out enjoying nature at the ripe ages of 69 instead of sitting at home watching TV. What could be wrong with that?
That said, I do consider outdoor TVs on motorhome to be an affront to nature.

March 07, 2023at10:13 pm, Barbie Wiborg said:

I agree. Keep the music and TV/movies indoors. I go camping to listen to the birds, rustling of the leaves in the wind, or total silence. Not to have to listen to someone else’s noise.

October 17, 2021at10:49 pm, Jan Paul said:

I have no problem calling myself a glamper, nor do I have a problem riding an e-bike. Some may consider both to be “cheating” but we are out enjoying nature at the ripe ages of 69 instead of sitting at home watching TV. What could be wrong with that?
That said, I do consider outdoor TVs on motorhome to be, umm, ridiculous.

October 17, 2021at10:13 pm, Gary said:

Who cares? Isn’t the point to encourage all of us to get out and enjoy the outdoors. No matter what you prefer, GET OUT THERE, and respect our different ways of doing it! BTW, at my age I prefer at least some creature comforts so I guess I fall into the “GLAMPER” category…not that I care what others think about it.

October 17, 2021at3:27 pm, Kevin Woron said:

My wife and I have no trouble calling ourselves proud glampers. Even when we were using a tent, sleeping on the ground, we made sure we had creature comforts and had serviced stalls in campgrounds.

Our son I would call a camper, in his bivy sack and whatever he can carry on his back.

We agree with you wholeheartedly when you argue it really is about getting out.

October 17, 2021at1:52 pm, Gene Bjerke said:

So how would the tenting purists consider a jungle hammock, which I preferred over a tent when “roughing it?” (A jungle hammock is a hammock with a roof and mosquito netting between the roof and the hammock.)

October 17, 2021at11:39 am, Amy Delpiere said:

I am a glamper. I have slept in tents on the ground. I have been rained on. I have been fed on by bugs. I have carried my water, food, clothing on my back. I prefer the comforts of glamping and my nice soft, clean bed.

October 17, 2021at9:05 am, Yael Nelson said:

I would not consider anything “Glamping” which involves emptying ones own septic. There is nothing glamorous about that!

October 17, 2021at4:13 pm, Hubert said:

When I was a youngster living in Florida we went without a tent, grill, or anything you would use today. We built a palm tree shelter (camping), caught fish and built a fire. When I got married I had to get a tent (Glamping) sleeping bags, a stove and etc. When my children came along we purchased an RV and had diapers, bottle milk, toys and etc. That’s called RVers. We are still RVers and so are you!

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