How to create your own budget-friendly glamping experience

If you're looking to sleep outdoors in style without breaking the bank, here are some easy ways to elevate your next camping trip

Glamping, short for “glamorous camping,” is sleeping outdoors with more amenities than you’d find with traditional camping. A typical glamping experience may feature a comfortable bed, plumbing, electricity, and WiFi. Part of the allure of modern-day glamping is the opportunity to sleep in unique structures—like safari tents, yurts, treehouses, covered wagons, geodesic domes, and more. 

Those willing to pay for an all-inclusive experience can book a stay at a glamping resort such as Under Canvas or AutoCamp. You can find these glampgrounds across the U.S., often in scenic locations near national parks or coastlines, and many include services like fine dining, electricity, private bathrooms, traditional beds, and WiFi. Other amenities can include yoga studios, game areas, and more. A variety of traditional campgrounds also offer glamping accommodations, in addition to RV and tent sites. 

Safari tent campsite in red rock canyon
Under Canvas Zion. | Photo: Madeleine Balestrier
Glamping area near red rock canyons
Under Canvas Zion. | Photo: Madeleine Balestrier

With the added comforts of glamping, the experience is often more expensive than bare-bones camping and backpacking—but there are many ways to DIY glamp on a budget. While dispersed camping is typically a more rugged experience, you can easily elevate your tent, campervan, or RV for a more luxurious outdoor adventure. 

Look for land managed by the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service for free places to stay near natural attractions. Or, build your own DIY glamping setup in your backyard for a budget-friendly staycation.

Do you want to camp in style near your favorite natural escapes without breaking the bank? Are you looking for staycation inspiration? Are you hoping to elevate your RV camping setup? Here are seven tips to make the most out of your glamping experience.

Safari tent set up at a campsite

1. Pitch a tent

If you’re sleeping in your backyard or close to home, you can set up a regular camping tent or canvas tent, or go one step further and build your own yurt. Use wood pallets to create a makeshift platform for your structure. If you’re roadtripping, elevate your car camping experience with a rooftop tent.  

2. Ditch the sleeping bag

One of the most important parts of glamping is getting off the ground and into a comfortable bed. Outfit your area with a cot or use a mattress, mattress pad, or air mattress. Next, create a cozy setting with sheets, comforters, throws, and soft pillows. 

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3. String up lights

Lights are not only practical, they also do wonders for nighttime ambiance. String lights are typically inexpensive and can be hung around your campsite for a warm and deluxe feel. You can also opt for solar-powered lanterns or battery-powered candles to light up your space. 

Oranges and cinnamon buns on blanket for picnic
Photo: Madeleine Balestrier

4. Prepare a gourmet meal

Aside from waking up to nature, cooking and eating outside is arguably one of the best aspects of camping. Space isn’t typically an issue when you’re glamping in your backyard or with your car, so bring a cooler and a Dutch oven or stove. 

Consider premixing cocktails and serving them in mason jars to pair with your meal. To cut down on prep and planning, you can also order a meal from a delivery meal-kit service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Decorate and set a picnic table like you would your dining room table.

5. Create a space to gather

In addition to a table for meals, bring along other furniture if you have space. Loveseat camp chairs with cup holders, hammocks nestled between trees, various sized tables, outdoor poufs, and area rugs help define an outdoor space and provide seating options. 

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Interior view of cozy luxury tent with bed

6. Add fun activities 

To keep everyone entertained throughout the day and evening, bring board games, lawn games, and cards. And if you’re ready to take your glamping experience to the next level, use a screen projector and a white sheet to watch movies outside.

7. Find inexpensive camping gear

While DIY glamping is a fun and creative exercise, it’s also a way to avoid the price tags of established resorts. Take advantage of thrift store finds for your decorations and added touches. Then head to your local gear store or REI garage sale to outfit your glampsite. Consider renting any gear that you don’t plan to use again. Companies like Arrive Outdoors, Moosejaw, and REI offer rental camping gear options for items like tents, tables, hammocks, chairs, and more. 

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