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?
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
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
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
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.
RV Hookups vs. Dry Camping
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
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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