Are you camping or glamping?

By: Kath Heiman, Photography by: Kath Heiman

Are fears of hardship stifling your adventures?

Are you camping or glamping?
When did discomfort become such a bad thing?

Sitting around a campsite recently with friends, we started discussing the issue of ‘glamping’ and, more particularly, ‘when does camping become glamping?’

Glamping refers to the fusion of glamour and camping. It’s often used by resorts and parks that offer a ‘camping experience’ without the need for guests to go to the effort of pitching a tent, unrolling a sleeping bag, or building a fire-pit. The concept of glamping capitalises on the rising societal demands to get beyond the four walls of our homes to be outdoors – without experiencing any discomfort.

Which makes me wonder: when did discomfort become such a bad thing?

Many of us will remember – back in our teens and early adulthood – heading out to the beach or into the bush with our family or with a few mates. Into the back of a small sedan or station wagon we might pack a thin nylon tent, and we’d probably take a few changes of clothes and some cooking utensils. We most definitely had an Esky to keep our drinks cool including a box of ‘chateau cardboard’. While the liquid inside the wine cask was generally pretty foul, the internal bladder was valued for the diversity of uses to which it could be put when empty: as a pillow, football, flotation device, water bag and so on.

When we look back on these trips – were we comfortable all the time? Probably not. But did we enjoy ourselves, and did we grow as individuals? Most likely we did. The memories we made are probably far more vivid than anything created sitting in climate-controlled environments, relaxing on comfortable chairs and beds surrounded by modern day effort-saving devices.

Since the 1980s, camping has changed a great deal for many people. The technological boom and the globalised economy have made it increasingly easy for us to travel with the conveniences of home. And many of us have taken to this opportunity with gusto – particularly those of us with a camper trailer. With our 78L fridges, portable solar panels, built-in kitchens, water storage, dual- and triple-battery systems and guaranteed shelter from the elements, none of us are really ‘doing it tough’. Far from roughing it under the stars, many of us illuminate the night like a football stadium. Our sites attract every opportunistic scavenger and biting insect within a 10km radius and block out the celestial views for which we headed bush in the first place. 

I have to say, I’m not happy to think I might have inadvertently become a ‘glamper’ by virtue of my ownership of a camper trailer. I’ve always taken a degree of pride in my capacity to put up with a bit of discomfort. There’s an old saying: "If you’re suffering a bit, you know you’re alive" which resonates with me quite strongly. So I’m not going to try to replicate Home-Sweet-Home when we’re on the road. I know the LEDs have an ‘off’ switch. Sometimes we’ll be harassed by midges and sand-flies, sometimes we’ll be whipped by wind or torrential rain, sometimes we won’t get a shower for several days and sometimes we’ll be dirty, tired, stressed and cranky. But, ultimately, the high points of our trips away will be all the sweeter for the discomforts we’ve endured.

After all, at the end of the day, without discomfort, there’s no real adventure.

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Check out the full feature in issue #98 March 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.