Did you know that people actually go glamping? This is a real phenomenon that exists beyond trendy articles and Instagram posts. Glamping, or glamorous camping, is a more luxurious way of getting intimate with nature. Your traditional backdrops of woods, wildlife, hiking, and grill-fire cooking are all still in place, but instead of pitching a tent at night you climb into your modern appliance-laden cabin or yurt.
I attended college in a very rural part of Western New York named Geneseo where camping was a popular pastime for students, their friends, and families. While I never (ever!) felt compelled to attend one of these trips, I could at least wrap my mind around why it enticed so many folks. If a student grew up on a farm or small village in the surrounding Geneseo area, there was a good chance they were used to the sights, smells, and sounds of natural life. Therefore, it only made sense that a peaceful trip camping in the woods would recall these same senses and memories of home.
Glamping, on the other hand, never made sense to me. At its best, it was a funny sounding word; at its worst it was a hypocritical waste of time. What was the point of going to spend time in nature if you were not going to really “rough it.” If eco-themed relaxation was the goal, why wouldn’t a white noise machine and forest-scented candle suffice? It was not until a friend of mine, also from this same college (go figure), suggested we take a glamping trip ourselves that I decided to actually take this activity seriously for the very first time.
Moments after her suggestion, I opened up my laptop and typed in the question, “How can I fake my own death to get out of a glamping trip?” When that didn’t pan out, I came to the fateful realization that I would have to woman up and accept this trip for what it was. I pulled my computer closer and tapped the keys until they spelled out a different question, “How to make a glamping trip fun?” Little did I know, I would not need Google to answer this one. I would soon figure it out for myself.
Moments after the decision to go glamping was made, my friend launched into action. Within days, a camping ground was selected, a wooden cabin was reserved, transportation was arranged, and an excel sheet was started in order to map out who would be bringing what groceries. The final tally of attendees rounded out to four girls, and our motley crew packed up in a car and set off on our wild, glamping journey.
I know what you’re thinking. Glamping? In New York? Where is that even possible? Well, the answer dear reader is Saugerties—quiet and quaint, little Saugerties. Saugerties, New York is located only a couple of hours away from my hometown, but when we arrived it felt like a completely different world. Between the never-ending walls of gargantuan trees and the ripe smell of manure, the message was clear. We were not in New York City anymore.
For the duration of our trip we stayed on a KOA campground and opted for a “deluxe wooden cabin” instead of a yurt/large tent because it came already equipped with beds, indoor plumbing, an air conditioner, and a microwave.
To many, this may seem like a pathetic way to actually spend time in nature, but for suburb and city-bred girls like ourselves, there was no doubt that it was the best option. To put it plainly, I was not going over 48 hours in the woods without a real shower; this was just as much for their noses’ sakes as it was for mine.
After settling into our cozy wooden home, my friends and I decided to explore the surrounding area. Spoiler alert, there were more trees—lots and lots more trees. After approximately 32 seconds of walking, we were ready to eat. Now, I would not call myself, nor any of these friends I went on the trip with, great cooks. We survived four years of college together feeding on store brand cereal and frozen burritos. That being said, I was incredibly proud of the delectable feast we were able to whip up on our two-by-four charcoal grill: Chicken and vegetable kabobs, garlic bread, roasted potatoes, grilled corn and eggplant, veggie burgers, and of course the most important food group of them all, wine.
Here is where everything really started to fall into place. Regardless of insanely large bugs, a diminishing toilet paper supply, and rustling noises coming from dark bushes, when four best friends get together over a bottle of cheap wine, a good time will be had. (Or at the very least, a hysterical time will be had). Because of the slow nature of Saugerties life and our mutual agreement to cut down on social media during this weekend, we had a lot of time to just talk.
I will say it loud and proud for the ladies in the back, talking with your girls IS self-care. Over dinner we were able to catch up on the traditional topics of work, family, and romance, but also make time to delve into our greatest desires, current fears, and what other dreams we had for our lives. Chilling out underneath that thick blanket of Saugerties stars, equipped with the realization that we were hours away from our everyday distractions, we were able to let loose in a way that seemed rare. The environment was basically willing us to go deeper.
As darkness took over and our fire raged (a fire that we started all on our own I might add), it only made sense that we enter into the most important phase of the night, Smores Time. It does not matter how old I get, there will always be a palpable, childlike joy that comes from roasting marshmallows on an open fire. Watching the flames incinerate the sweet, white treat in anticipation of a thick slab of chocolate, all sandwiched in between two gingery-graham crackers—it may just be better than porn. In fact, I’ll say it, it is better than porn.
Eventually, I learned to embrace everything that was taking place around me. The spitting fire, singing frogs, and howling dogs were a welcomed symphony. Yes, the air seemed so humid that it was sticking to my skin, but even this was better than city smog. It turns out there are glamping hubs all over New York, and likely all over the country as well. If you are interested in finding one for your crew, I’d recommend starting here.
Glamping really was the perfect retreat because it provided the best of both worlds, the comforts of home set in the briskness of the great outdoors. If you are anything like I was at the beginning of this journey and feel lost in the face of an upcoming trip or new adventure, here are a few tips:
1. Less is more
This is true of just about everything, especially when venturing out into nature. Makeup, beauty products, laptops, tablets, excessive outfit changes were all unnecessary over this lovely weekend. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life also means letting go of these routine habits. Sometimes, all you actually need for a great time are your girls.
2. When in doubt, dance it out
I can’t even begin to tell you how important music was to this weekend. We used our one wireless speaker more often than all of our cell phones combined. Music is the perfect way to underscore any girls trip. From the jazzy tunes at dinner to the Afrobeats that made clean up time feel like a party, music, dance, and laughter were the keys to everyone’s constant smiles.
3. Getting lost is part of the fun
Whether it was on one of our morning hikes, afternoon drives, or post-dinner strolls, getting lost became an inevitable part of the day. Turns out, navigation becomes more complicated when phones are not in play and you use farmers market stands as checkpoints. “Wait, did we make a right at the homemade pomegranate soaps, or a left?” “Was the turmeric-ginger elixir stand before the blueberry wine stand, or after it?” Either way, be sure to submit to the adventure and enjoy the ride.
At the end of the long weekend, I realized that my earliest predictions about this glamping trip were true. One, I do not belong in the woods. They are beautiful, tranquil, divine, but I don’t feel compelled to spend ANY more time in them. And two, the most important part of any trip is who you’re with. I was fortunate enough to spend these couple of days with girlfriends I truly love and adore. Even if it was in an isolated village entrenched by trees, the time we spent there provided us with memories that will last a lifetime. For that, I will always carry a little bit of Saugerties in my heart with me wherever I go.