Perhaps I’m a bit late to the party, but I only heard of the neologism glamping about five years ago. The spellcheck service I use for writing my articles does not seem to recognize it. But Merriam-Webster does, and it claims that glamping came into currency around the year 2005. So it seems I’m a good decade behind. Given that I’m still a devotee of the iPod Classic with its glorious rotating wheel-button, this is about par for the course. And for those who aren’t in the know (or cannot figure it out by context), glamping is a portmanteau of “glamor” and “camping”…and the rest should speak for itself. If it still doesn’t, try this:
Still confused? I’ll admit, a sign that says “glamping tents” probably doesn’t help. But the fact that this business in Valdez, Alaska promotes them suggests that the word is salient enough to use without explanation. To the best of my understanding, a glamping tent should have at least the two of the following: running water, enough electricity for a light source, some sort of bed or bed-equivalent that is at least superior to a sleeping bag, and maybe even a flush toilet (certainly if restroom facilities more than a 90-second walk away). And, this being Valdez, the country’s northernmost port that is ice-free year round (and the southern terminus to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline), a glamping tent should also feature a heat source that does not involve combustion.
Would the small wooden structures behind this promotional sign constitute glamping? Probably not—the walls are too solid. They’re cabins. And they’re likely too rustic for anyone who graves a clamping experience; I can’t imagine they’re big enough to feature enough of the aforementioned glamping essentials. So if a glamping tent has heat, showers, a flush toilet, mattress beds, and electric lights, how does it still embody any sort of communion with the great outdoors that would qualify it as “camping”? I guess it’s all about those uninsulated, malleable canvas walls. Beyond that, it’s hard not to see, using a continuum, the proximity between glamping and a FEMA trailer, though it would be an insult to those suffering the recent devastation from Hurricane Ida to make such an analogy.
Then again, I can’t discount this land use just a quarter mile down the road in Valdez:
Given that most people who tour the Alaska wilderness in their personal recreational vehicles would consider the RV experience “camping”, who am I to judge? Glamp away.
2 thoughts on “Glamping as a commodity: if the concept has reached rural Alaska, it’s gone mainstream.”
I’m reminded of this scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation:
“Thirty-seven dollars for three tents?”
“Oh, they’re very nice tents. And that price includes scenery and wildlife fun. [wink]”
I had to remind myself how old the original “Vacation” was to figure if $37 was a lot of money back then for three tents. Not as old as I thought. But in 1983, $37 for three tents and they probably SHOULD involve glamping.