Glamping vs. Camping: 8 Major Differences

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A trendy new word that I hear people tossing around–glamping–defines the act of camping but with much of the fancy and many of the frills not typical with living in the wilderness. I didn’t give either word much thought until recently when a good friend of mine invited me to go camping at Half Moon State Park in Hubbardton, Vermont over the 4th of July weekend. As I started to pull together a list of essentials for the trip, I realized that this wasn’t “camping” at all, but it’s better looking, more fun little sister, glamping.

As I talked to friends about my upcoming trip, many of them regaled me with stories about their own experiences camping. Their tales included bears, possible yeti sightings, frigid hikes through snow and ice to their campsite, freeze-dried food, defecating in holes, and carrying huge backpacks with ALL their personal possessions on their backs–yikes! Their experiences got me thinking about the differences between camping and glamping. In the event that you are confused about your own impending jaunt in the great outdoors, here are some questions you can ask yourself to gain clarity:

1. What’s the sweat quotient of getting to your camp site?

Sweat quotient is a numerical figure that I’ve made up to describe how much sweat your body will expel before you arrive at your campsite. In my case, my number was zero. At Half Moon State Park you drive right up to your campsite. There was no parking and then hiking with heavy bags of shit on your back through the heat or cold. I would say that if your number is under three, then you fall squarely in the “glamping” zone!

2. Does your cell phone work?

If the campsite offers wifi and your cell phone works (even if you don’t have Verizon Wireless) then you can pretty much bet that you’re glamping. Our site did not offer wifi but cellphone service was intermittent. I was able to post a few “necessary” pics on Instagram, call my people and let them know I was safe, and check my email (even some work emails–gasp!)

3. How easily can your shelter be invaded by wildlife?

When we arrived with our one-minute pop-up tent and had it up in less than 60 seconds I was feeling pretty proud of my $50 Walmart purchase. That was until I took a stroll around the park and noticed what all the other campers where working with. There was no shortage of silver bullet campers, pop-up campers, and motor homes with expandable sections. While I was listening to animals trying to claw their way into my tent at night everyone else was sleeping locked away in comfort. They’d definitely beat me at glamping–if there was a competition.

4. Are you sharing a “bathroom” with wildlife?

One of the downsides of camping is the lack of facilities… Peeing behind trees and adopting the doggie method of shitting (poo and then cover with dirt) are your only options. That is unless you’re actually glamping. In which case there are large, shiny bathrooms with toilets and showers on site. The only downside is taking that midnight creep to pee in the pitch black night.

5. Are you feasting or famining?

Yes, I made that word famining up! But it’s the best word I can use to describe subsisting on rationed portions of freeze-dried food and canned goods. Is this what we were doing on our glamping trip? Hell no! We were eating eggs, pancakes, bacon and corn beef hash everyday for breakfast. Dinner included steaks, chicken, sausage and fish with peppers and onions. We were doing the opposite of famining–which is feasting. How was this possible? Ice. Delivered. Daily.

6. Are you cooking with a fire or a FIYA?

What’s the opposite of ice? Fire. And the next question is how difficult is it for you to build a fire on your campsite? Do you have to chop wood yourself? Do you have to dig your own fire pit? Or, can you pick up pre-cut wood and little tumble weed fire starters on site? Because not breaking a sweat to start a blazing fire is FIYA!

7. Does your hiking require a compass?

Hiking in the wilderness, especially if you’re relying on your sense of direction and a compass can be daunting. That’s why when you’re glamping the hiking trails are marked with pretty colors painted on the trees. Here’s another hiking hack I learned on this trip. Have a friend follow you with your car and park it at the end of the trail–so you don’t have to suffer walking the trail roundtrip.

8. How close is your nearest human neighbor?

If your nearest neighbors are bears and cougars and your chief concern is hanging food high in trees so that you don’t get eaten alive then it’s safe to say you’re roughing it. But if your neighbors are other humans just a few grassy plots over from you then you know you’re glamping. Unfortunately, glamping with neighbors nearby may mean overhearing loud conversations, snoring, farts, and squeaky air mattresses (and don’t think for a minute other people don’t know why your mattress is rhythmically squeaking!)

Happy Glamping!

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