The History of Glamping

Photo: Rita Kapoor Wojick

Photo: Rita Kapoor Wojick

Glamping bridges the raw beauty of the great outdoors with the luxury of modern amenities and hospitality - a form of escapism travelers have sought for centuries. Spacious safari tents immersed in the wild and furnished with the comforts of home, like plush beds to sleep soundly, take the ‘rough’ out of roughing it.

The unexpected combination of “rugged luxury” connects glampers with nature in the most comfortable way possible. Although the word “glamping” was just added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, luxury tent excursions are rooted in a rich history across the globe. Mongolian Yurt Mongolian Yurt

Mongolia - 1100s

Nomadic tribes and Huns warriors lived in yurts, which are circular tents that provide protection from strong winds. The portability of yurts allowed tribes to move when needed with their herds, about 4 times a year or more. The structures could be quickly setup and the lightweight material was ideal for transporting.

Some Mongolians live in yurts today, although modernized yurts with wood frames tend to be relatively permanent, unlike traditional yurts. Across the world, modern yurts offer eco-friendly living and tourism solutions. Oil painting of  The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold Oil painting of The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold

Europe - 1520

The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold was the site of a three-week diplomatic summit in northern France held for King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France, with the goal of fostering friendship between the royals and an alliance of the two countries. The site was named after the extravagant decor used to outfit the summit’s tents and became a display of the young kings’ wealth and power. The kings dined on lavish feasts, hosted jousting tournaments, and the grounds included red wine fountains. In true Renaissance fashion, the summit was not merely a meeting for diplomacy, but rather a spectacle of grandeur.

Modern glamping properties may not have alcohol fountains like the royals’ glampground, but many have food and beverage offerings that celebrate local flavors. Beyond amenities, the summit’s goal resonates with the modern glamping industry’s mission to connect glampers with the great outdoors. Campfires are typically the heart of a modern glampground and offer a shared experience where glampers can enjoy starry gatherings and connect with each other.

Library of Congress: Theodore Roosevelt Camping

Library of Congress: Theodore Roosevelt Camping

Africa - 1920s

President Theodore Roosevelt ventured into the great outdoors for a widely publicized camping trip in 1903 with conservationist John Muir in Yosemite. The trip both sparked the conservation movement and popularized the appeals of camping - restoration, escapism, and recreation.

Shortly after, wealthy American and British travelers ventured to Africa for safaris. Derived from the Arabic word “safariya,” which means “expedition or voyage,” safaris blended the outdoors with the comforts of lavish homes that travelers didn’t want to sacrifice.

In the early 1900s, safaris usually included big-game hunting during the day followed by a formal dinner in the evening. Modern safaris offer wildlife observations, landscape sightseeing and hiking.

Photo: Rita Kapoor Wojick

Photo: Rita Kapoor Wojick

U.S. - 2000s

The emerging glamping industry in the U.S. is actually revitalizing an age-old concept, honoring the roots of camping and inviting both seasoned and new campers to an unforgettable outdoor experience.  

Google searches for “glamping” began in 2007 and reached an all-time high in July 2018. Today glamping can be found at music festivals, weddings, ranches, state and national parks, and even in backyards across the US and the world. The industry first saw rapid growth in the UK and Europe, and is now starting to gain traction in the U.S. The American Glamping Association launched in 2018 to spread awareness and bring clarity to the industry.

GlampingEmily LeedyComment