Here’s the Definitive Guide to Glamping in North America
By Mike & Anne Howard
If you Google “best glamping destinations,” there are 14,000 results. Part of the motivation for writing our North American glamping book, Comfortably Wild, was our frustration with these listicles.
Not only did they feature far-flung archipelagos and African safari camps, but the same properties were being regurgitated with photos commissioned by the marketing department.
We weren’t convinced the authors had been to many of the destinations.
How do they know these places are the best if they haven’t experienced them or tried hundreds of others for comparison?
Call it bold, but having scouted hotels around the world for Honeymoons.com, blogged for Glamping.com, and written National Geographic’s first book on couples adventure travel, we felt we could take on this project with a certain level of authority and learn a heck of a lot along the way.
Buddy the Camper
So we bought Buddy The Camper, a 1985 Toyota Sunrader, and set out on a cross-continent road trip to discover the best glamping destinations from first-hand experience.
And where Buddy couldn’t go, we used our airline points to venture to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. In the end, it was a three-year, nine-country, 73,000-mile quest.
We went to many of the “top” destinations but quickly realized five-star service and luxurious facilities are not what the best of glamping is about. Creative, comfortable, sustainable, and from the heart is what makes a place sing. It’s about the individuals who had a crazy idea to create unconventional retreats in the most unlikely places. People who took incredible risks and poured their hearts into a property so they could share it with glampers like us.
Some of the most inspiring folks we’ve ever met are the proprietors in this book. Going on a four-day trip with Teton Wagon Train & Horse Adventure, founded by the descendants of the first guide to bring pioneers over the Teton Pass in 1889, we were in awe of the Warburton family.
From 22-year-old Jordan, who composes brilliant songs about the spirit of the West, to their dad, Jeff, who is an animal science expert and wagon master, this family is the real deal. More than just a few lasso tricks, they taught us what it means to be a cowboy.
In addition to interviewing these passionate owners in person, we had them write down their key details and stories—some as long as 36 pages. We cried when we read the Good Knights questionnaire.
Co-owner Linda Smith is an archer, seamstress, pewter caster, and survivor of polio and spina bifida. Her mobility issues have never held back her ambitions.
Her husband, Sir Daniel (he’s actually been knighted), wrote about how they had always loved camping, but “My lady deserved better than sleeping on the ground.”
So he handmade her a four-poster wooden rope bed and bought a spacious bell tent so they could camp at the Renaissance Faire in style. That tent is what started their now glamping retreat, Good Knights medieval encampment, where they both can teach you to shoot a bull’s eye with a longbow.
There was a moment when we considered organizing this book by type of structure (after all, that’s how most glamping websites do it). But is it really about the act of sleeping in a wall tent versus a dome?
While there is an inherent sense of adventure waking up in a treehouse or a 1950s Airstream, a great glamping destination offers so much more than that. We want to zipline to that treetop suite and make breakfast in the vintage camper using the fruit we picked in the orchard. We seek new opportunities and unforgettable experiences.
How the Book Works
What do you want from a glamping vacation? To help you brainstorm and discover fresh ways to travel, we’ve organized this book by type of experience. Looking to de-stress? Try the hot springs and art workshops in the “Rejuvenate” chapter. Want your kids to understand where food comes from? Have them harvest veggies for a farm-to-table dinner at the farm stays in “Cultivate.”
Are you fascinated by historic places and other cultures? “Living History” has your answers from British Columbia to Lake Nicaragua. In addition to the four main properties in each chapter, we share three more that elaborate on the topic.
For example, at the end of the “Safari” chapter, we feature nonprofits where your glamping stay helps with wildlife conservation. In the middle of each chapter, there is a two-page photo spread; this is usually a behind-the-scenes moment and a bonus adventure.
In the first chapter you will read about the who, what, when, where, and why of glamping. We want people to understand that this style of travel, once called a fad, actually has a rich history and staying power.
In our fast-paced, work-driven, tech-heavy society, we need glamping more than ever. Most of us have become detached from nature in our everyday lives and forget what it feels like to be surrounded by something bigger than ourselves. We need the time and space, without our phones buzzing, to look each other in the eye and laugh about our own adventures, not what we saw online.
As authors and explorers, we’ve worked our tails off to compile the best glamping destinations in North America—now all you have to do is pack your bags.
This article is an excerpt from Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America, published by Falcon Guides and written by Mike & Anne Howard of HoneyTrek.com. Find more information on the book at HoneyTrek.com/ComfortablyWild and follow Mike & Anne’s global adventures @HoneyTrek across social media.
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Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America .
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