Not everyone is built for the great outdoors. Sure, in small doses, the fresh air may be invigorating. The sunny hikes through the trails and the fresh air may do you good, but, if the idea of pitching a tent, building a fire and lying on the ground with nothing but a sleeping bag is not your kind of thing, know that you’re not alone. Luckily, over the last few years, there’s been a growing number of city-dwellers that have been able to live the “camping” experience without losing all of the amenities that keep the comfort to the maximum. It’s been coined “glamping” (a portmanteau of glamour and camping), and it’s an experience in which you can enjoy all that nature has to offer without all the sacrifice. The trick is to know how to do it right.
Where to Glamp
The first thing you need to find is a place that has all the amenities you require for your added comfort. Luckily for you, there’s plenty of campsites and national parks that feature cabins, tepees and even grand canvas tents that include large beds, soft bedding and kitchenettes at your disposal. While you can rough it for the day, it’s comforting to know there’s a soft bed waiting for you after a day of facing the elements.
One of the easiest options is to trust in our incredible parks service. In the last two years, Elk Island, Banff, Jasper, Waterton Lakes and Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site have newly opened the oTentiks program, which features a sort of half-tent, half-cabin residence complete with heat and power and a proper bed to aid you through your camping adventure. It’s comfortable and cozy and keeps the bugs out of your hair, but it comes with two downsides: oTentiks do not feature kitchens – so you’ll still be required to cook over a fire. Another potential drawback is that 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, and the parks will be packed over the weekends this summer with other outdoorsy types looking to take advantage of the free parks passes.
Luckily our provincial parks, such as Dinosaur Provincial Park and Cypress Hills Provincial Park also feature glamorous canvas tents (complete with beds) to kick up the comfort over your trip.
Bring Home With You
A tried and true method to glamping? A tradition that’s decades old: RVing. The top of the line, newest, most spacious model can set you back anywhere up to $580,980. And if you want to kick it old school, classic Airstreams have received a modernization over the last couple of years, complete with modern kitchens, bathrooms and showers; and the price tag is a little more forgiving than that of an RV, ranging from $69,000 to $200,000.
Something to keep in mind: While most RV’s don’t require a licence beyond a Class 5, it’s likely that your new glamp-mobile will be equipped with airbrakes, and Alberta transportation requires that a Official Alberta Air Brake “Q” endorsement test be applied to your licence in order to operate legally.
What to Eat
The key to a successful campout is always the food. The idea is to keep it simple; pack only the things that can be cooked easily over a fire and a cast-iron pan. This is a good idea for steaks and grilled asparagus, for instance.
And keeping it simple doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw good taste out the window. A simple fix of fine cheeses, pickled vegetables and cured meats can work wonders to build a rustic outdoor charcuterie board – paired with a fine wine of your choice (with glass or plastic wine glasses at your discretion).
What to Wear
You’re going to be spending more time outdoors than you likely do at home, so do as the Boy Scouts do and “always be prepared.” A summer night in the elements is going to seem colder than the summer nights in town. You’re exposed to the elements, so pack warmer clothes than you think you’ll need and you won’t regret it. A good rule of thumb is to pack a sweater and a windproof jacket to keep you warm at night.
A good solid pair of boots or a comfortable pair of running shoes should keep you stable in the uneven woody terrain.
Repel the Nuisances:
In Alberta, there are at least 40 different species of mosquito, and they’re all out for blood. If you’re thinking of spending any amount of time outdoors (especially around bodies of water – the breeding ground for the pests) remember that you’re in insect territory and on the bottom of their particular food chain. To combat them Alberta Health Services recommends three easy steps to avoid being eaten alive:
– Use insect repellent that contains DEET, Icaridin or other approved ingredients
– Wear light-coloured clothing, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants
– As mosquitos are more active at dusk and dawn, consider retreating inside your luxe tent at these times