"I could have gone to Mauritius," my friend lamented, reluctantly loading up the wagon for the family's first ever camping holiday. I knew how she felt. Far more accustomed to plopping down poolside on a day bed than lowering delicately atop an airbed lest I burst the damn thing, camping has always seemed a little, well, unsavoury. All that flapping canvas, dirt floors and wonky-legged tables just didn't seem like my idea of fun. I'm lucky that my work allows me to check into some pretty fine hotels. So why bother with all the fuss and discomfort of camping?
But then along came the concept of glamping. As in glamorous camping. As in camping for grownups. As in getting back to nature in a civilised fashion. You know, with a real bed and a proper fridge. And my own bathroom. Camping has evolved. And I'm all for it.
So what makes glamping different from plain old camping? Just as with camping, the main ingredient in any self-respecting glamping holiday is canvas walls along with zippered window shades and doors. That's about where the similarities end.
Safari type tents that fit the glamping mould now come with luxuries you'd usually find in the plushest hotel. Like polished timber floorboards, bright and airy ensuite bathrooms sometimes with spa baths and nearly always with an abundance of fluffy towels. I once glamped in South Africa complete with king size bed, a free standing claw foot bath indoors and an open air private shower outdoors. I'll confess it was a little unnerving initially. Showering to the accompaniment of unrecognisable grunting and hooting sounds coming from the jungle just beyond the path to the main lodge ensured I didn't linger long enough to waste precious water. Particularly as I'd been warned to clasp a carabineer clip onto my flyscreen zipper catch to prevent cheeky monkeys from scampering into my tent while I slept. Apparently monkeys haven't quite figured out how to claw their way through mesh. Yet.
But glamping isn't just about the tent. Rather, it's more about embracing your own personal style and comfort level. Glamping enables you to feel and look fabulous even if you're more at home in heels than Havianas. Long gone thankfully are the days when our daggiest clothes would suffice for a camping holiday. Now with some clever packing we can emerge from our canvas homes each morning looking as relaxed and chilled out as we feel. And let's face it, the best part about camping holidays has always been about slowing down, relaxing and simply allowing oneself to unwind. The fashion police are rarely found within cooee of billowing canvas. Though I hear they're on full alert in Mauritius.
Favourite glamping retreats
South Africa – Tanda Tula Safari Camp
Queensland – Wilson Island
Queensland - Agnes Waters Caravan Park Safari Tents
Victoria – Wilderness Retreat, Wilsons Promontory
Favourite camping retreat
Queensland - Lady Musgrave Island
Fiona Harper is a freelance travel writer specialising in travel boating and lifestyle genres. When not on the road checking out divine holiday destinations, she can usually be found bunkered down in a tropical location working on her next writing project.