Glamping, which combines glamour and camping, has grown in popularity over recent years. More and more people are opting to glamp instead of camp because it basically represents a kind of home away from home. This form of camping often contrasts with rough 4WD camping deep in the scrub. Instead, it often has luxury accoutrements, such as being nearer to conveniences like toilets, refrigeration, laundries and even fancy-pants bush versions of hot tubs and showers.
Plus, the general feeling of glamping is far more relaxed and restorative - like a gift from nature, rather than an endurance event. But what if you’re on a budget? Here are some creative ideas for ambience and comfort while glamping on a budget, so you can enjoy an outdoor experience without having to feel rough!
When it comes to glamping, lighting is key, so it deserves a little more attention. [Quick rant: The idea of a spotlight off the back of a 4WD glaring down angrily at the whole campsite is anathema to the subtle glamping concept. Also, that kind of lighting is super annoying, selfish and disrespectful to any other campers. It’s also really disruptive to birds and other wildlife.] Instead, you'll want to create a warm and inviting space, that uses the darkness around you to compliment the light. And you don’t need to break the bank. Here are some creative ideas for lighting your campsite on a budget.
1. Go solar instead of using battery operated or gas operated lighting. That’s a big saver and obviously much better for the environment.
2. Have a camp fire – this doesn’t need to be a bonfire! The romantic effect is much better with a small cosy fire, plus it’s way more controllable and longer lasting.
3. Use lanterns - upcycle old jars or find vintage looking ones too, like iced tea jars. By putting a remote controlled tea light inside it, or gently coiling a string of those cute tiny fairy lights in it you can create a beautiful effect. These are also naturally waterproof if you pop the lid back on. There are now ranges of solar powered lanterns that have that old-style look but use modern technology. These can be hung on a nearby branch above a table or placed on tables as necessary.
4. Get some string lights - String up strands of festoon lights for the full-quality glamping look, or fairy lights for the magical feel. Remember, you’re camping so these need to be good quality, properly waterproof and solar powered. Putting festoon lights around a tent makes the ambience inside the tent wonderful as well, and you don’t need any other lights on inside either. Ensure that you’ve got the little solar panel out and collecting sunlight as early as you can.
5. Consider a head light - There's nothing more initimidating than camping if, at night, you're in total darkness; it's scary, confusing and can be dangerous! Get a head lamp to move around. They’re very handy, and you can pick up a semi-decent one from places like Jaycar for only $20. Headlamps don’t generally have nice yellow light, so they’re really just for the times you need excellent, night-vision-destroying white light, like for cooking chicken, for example. But try to use the red light setting for everything else.
So, be sure to bring ample lighting to brighten up your space - just try to get creative, yet practical, about how much light you need, and where and when you need it.
So right off the bat we'll say this - that moment when you open the tent and glimpse your first sight of nature around you can be the best nature-accessory! Ahhh, that view and the first breath of fresh air.
There's no need to spend a lot of money to bring the luxury camping experience into your life. A few simple, nature-inspired accessories can do the trick. Look for natural colours and textures when shopping for decor.
Feathered faux cultural artifacts, such as dreamcatchers, are also great ways to add a touch of spiritual connection to your campsite. We don’t really like to use real feathers, but there are now several cotton look-a-like versions and macrame versions you can use.
Certain types of Wiccan art are also popular accessories to bring or make while you’re away. I accept, though, that some people might get creeped out by the idea because they watched the Blair Witch Project or The Ritual. Hot tip, if you’re on the fence about the safety of camping, don’t watch these movies.
In reality, these can be super cool things like stick and yarn triangles or stars or even driftwood mobiles or similar non-witchie type accessories that are lightweight and look great. Check out these little videos:
And if you take some paint with you, this idea is great!
Another natural element to add are smudge sticks. These look and smell great, and can provide that extra positive energy that you’re looking for in your campsite.
Nothing says ambience like a few candles inside a tent or van. But nothing says ambulance like using an open flame inside a tent or van… Electronic candles and lanterns are a great alternative and can be solar powered so you don't have to worry about batteries either. If you're road tripping, make sure to pack a few of these so you can enjoy a cosy night in, no matter where you are.
A quick plug here: You can opt for the USB-powered tea lights which you can charge as you drive, or if it’s a short trip and they’re really good quality lights, like our tea lights, they won’t need to be recharged at all and don’t generate any heat, even within the units. Better quality electrical goods are always much better value when you add up all the little differences and the lifetime-added value. We tested our tea lights on full power and they lasted 22 hours straight! We’ve never needed to charge them when we’re on trips, and even accidentally left one out in the rain, with no adverse effects at all. They’re brilliant! End of plug.
And for those who really love the scent of candles but still want the safety of super low voltage electricity, there's always scented wax cubes that emit fragrance without a flame.
Camping can be enhanced by using textures, natural fabrics, and more exotic-looking fabrics and patterns to create a feeling of layers, warmth and comfort.
Natural fabrics such as bamboo, linen, silk and hemp can be used in place of synthetic materials that are often found in traditional outdoor gear.
Organic cottons are less likely to irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions like some synthetics do. They are also better for the environment. We wrote about this in an article which you can read here.
If you're interested in using textiles from different cultures, consider lovely tribal boho arrows and shapes, Moroccan textiles with geometric patterns and colour combinations, or Tibetan weaves which are usually made from vegetable dyes.
These textiles can make for comfortable bedding choices because they feel soft against your skin and absorb moisture easily, so they dry faster than other options. In addition, most of these natural textiles don't need much maintenance; just occasionally spot cleaning them.
Woollen blankets, such as Merino or Alpaca, are also good if you need warm insulation - as you can’t really turn up the heat when you’re in your tent. They may take longer to dry after being washed but it's worth it for their superior warmth-to-weight ratio. Wool is also a great regulator of heat, so you'll have a far more comfortable sleep.
We don’t really go for inflatable mattresses, as they’re just big plastic blobs and there are other less-plasticky options, but also the air inside the mattress can get really cold at night, so best put a woollen mattress topper on to protect you as well.
Lastly, decorative pillows add personality to any campsite by adding another texture element and personalising the space.
Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but in Australia the bugs can be a bit of a nuisance. To keep insects at bay while you're enjoying the great outdoors, and while keeping the ambience, try using cotton insect screens. Along with being so much better for the environment than the nylon mesh that's unfortunately ubiquitous in the camping world, this material is still lightweight and is even more breathable. So you won't get too hot, it will keep those pesky mosquitoes, midgies and flies away, and you can relax and enjoy your camping trip! Cotton is also easy to clean and is durable, which means that you'll save money in the long run.
A few metres of this fabric should be enough for any tent or shelter, and when not in use it's compact enough to tuck into a corner, or even better, you can put it in a cushion cover so when it's not in use, it's still useful!
Rugs and Drapery
Waterproof rugs are great for camping because they can be hosed off or even washed in a machine. You can also find recycled plastic rugs that are durable and easy to clean. If you want something softer, jute rugs are beautiful and natural-looking. They might not be as easy to clean, but they'll add a touch of luxury to your campsite.
An idea we've seen is to weave smaller rugs together with contrasting yarn, or weaving in tassels onto old sheets.
If you have an outdoor rug at home, take it camping with you! Even if it's stained, it will probably still look and add a touch of comfort to the ground beneath your tent, table or seating areas. Plus, it won't pick up all those leaves and twigs that would otherwise ruin more shag rugs.
All of these types of mats help get sand off feet too. [A little tip: Keep a bucket of water and towel handy in case someone steps into sand or dirt. When they're ready to go into the tent, they can give their feet a quick rinse. This is really convenient, and we all know clean feet are the best feet.]
Also, there's something very relaxing about layers of drapery, the sense of nestling and cosiness is unbeatable. If you can hang sheets within a tent or around the entrance, you create a lovely ambience with that curtain look. It works particularly well with cotton insect screens as well, and loose bedding inside the tent makes for a luxury that costs nothing and is really inviting. It can also make the space you're sleeping in easier to keep warm.
Chairs and Tables
One of the most important things when it comes to glamping is comfort. Sitting directly on the ground is the stuff of hiking, not glamping. You want to be able to relax and enjoy the experience. So chairs are essential, and set at a height that your knees will not punish you for. Those awful, easily broken, thin metal and nylon, almost disposable camping chairs that are available everywhere for cheapsies are not great for your boho vibe or the world. Canvas or timber chairs add a touch of luxury, while rattan/bamboo furniture is really environmentally friendly.
There are a range of long- and short-legged trestle table options available in lovely timber, which can be covered with a tablecloth or left uncovered to create a rustic look, and finished with placemats made of jute to complete a picturesque scene. When using lower tables, large floor cushions or Thai triangle pillows which also have a backrest are great and can be super comfortable. A timber table with built in benches is also a great idea that provides seating as well as eating space, though these are very hard to find.
Another great option is an umbrella. Not only will it provide shade but they can look beautiful, create a focal point to your main congregating area and you can even throw a cotton insect screen over it, to lock the flies out. You can put your table or set out some throw pillows and blankets underneath to have a picnic as well.
Essentially, when it comes to tables and chairs, natural material is way better than nylon and plastic for both looks and the environment. They are also generally much sturdier and durable too.
Although there are a few items that are basically designed for glamping, such as bell tents (which are super luxurious and awesome), for the most part, as you can see, unless you're planning to do this a lot, you can get away with some relatively inexpensive items to complete a beautiful camping scene. Much of what you'd need to buy is also useful for picnics and general home leisure as well, which is quite handy. Plus the glamping ambience can be acquired with little effect on the environment.
We hope these small changes encourage you to get out in the countryside more often as they make the whole experience a lot more inviting and comfortable.