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By the author of What School Should Have Taught You
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m something of a purist when it comes to backpacking. If you’re not sleeping out of what you’re carrying on your back, you’re not camping. You’re glamping. That being said, I readily admit that there are times when living out of a bag on your back isn’t the way to go.
Maybe you’re doing a bit of traveling for a business trip or seeing family, and you still need a place to stay, but you want to do it cheaply.
You don’t have the money for a decent hotel room, and you’ve had a lot of bad experiences with “bargain” hotel rooms. All the Vrbo and Airbnbs are booked as well. It all ends up combining to form the perfect storm of variables to make you desperate for a place to stay.
If that’s where you find yourself, I think the answer is glamour camping, aka glamping.
With glamping, you basically plop your tent down right in front of your car and pull out all of the luxury amenities you need to make yourself as comfortable as possible without having to pay an arm and a leg for travel lodging.
While primitive camping out of a backpack is the purist’s way out here, it’s not always feasible. If you have some type of meeting the next morning that requires you to look presentable – let’s say you’re going to look at a house out of state – you’re going to need to pack a few amenities that won’t fit into a hiking backpack.
Here are a few of the items I recommend to allow you to travel on the cheap with as many amenities as possible.
A Dutch oven
One of the first pieces of equipment I would recommend would be a little Dutch oven. You can do just about any cooking task you desire with one of these. If it’s just you going out there, I would recommend one with a 6-8” width. If there are more of you going, you’re going to want a bigger one.
This will let you cook your meals as you’re out there, saving you a small fortune on food. Rather than having to pay for restaurant food, this will enable you to spend normal money at a normal grocery store.
Daisy has written in the past about how carrying a cooler in her car saves her money. It can save you money with glamping as well. When you head out to that grocery store, you’re going to need someplace to keep all of your food without it going bad as you travel. A cooler is the ticket. Personally, I’m a fan of the Yeti knockoffs. We’ve kept ice frozen in them for several days on multiple occasions.
A charcoal starter
You can do the whole open-fire cooking thing if you want, but if you want to bake anything in your Dutch oven, you’re going to have the best luck and the most consistent, stress-free results by carrying a charcoal starter with you.
A Minuteman Rocket Stove
These are so much easier to work with than an open fire. If you have the space, I would throw in a K stove. If space is an issue, use the original. You’ll have an easy-to-use stove with you that will help you to put hot food in your stomach without having to worry about running out of propane.
A camping shower
This is essential. If you slept in the woods, you’re going to look like it the next morning. A camping shower helps you to look and smell presentable the next morning.
A big tarp
This is for the camping shower. It’ll give you some privacy, so you don’t scare the other campers off.
A sleeping cot
I think this is another essential as well. You will sleep so much better on a sleeping cot than you will on the ground. I’ve tried a myriad of ground pads, and none of them really do much for me. You are going to want to be well rested so that you don’t come to dread the coming of nightfall and its misery. A sleeping cot is the ticket here.
(This one will hold yo’ momma.)
This will help you to ensure that you don’t look like Don King when you wake up.
Not only are these good for drinking (duh), but they also help you to be able to wash your hands, fix cow licks the shower couldn’t handle, or brush your teeth.
A French press
Off-grid coffee-making ability is essential. You can make cowboy coffee if you like, but if we’re looking for maximum comfort, I think that packing in a camper’s French press is the way to go here.
Glamping is the best way I know of to combine cheap travel, autonomy, and comfort.
Don’t want to be shackled to a family member’s house? Glamping. Don’t want to go broke traveling? Glamping. Don’t want to be miserable all night fighting off the weather, bugs, and the hard ground? Glamping.
There are a lot of benefits here, but you have to make sure you have the right tools first. But what are your thoughts? Are there other tools or pieces of gear that you would recommend here? Have you ever been glamping? Was it fun? Let’s talk about it in the comments section.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
6 thoughts on “Glorious Glamping on a Dime”
There is an in-between version of camping that’s neither the higher dollar glamping as described above nor the backpacking minimalist approach that’s not a good fit for destinations hundreds of miles away. I’ve seen it described as stealth camping but I don’t know if there is some more formal label for it. I used removable blackout window covers on the camper cap on the back of my truck. A take-apart camping cot was perfect for sleeping or putting away during the day for space reasons. MRE meals eliminated the need for a cooking fire, but there are all kinds of mini-stoves (like the Solo Lite, eg.,) with multi-fuel capabilities (including alcohol burners like the Trangia system) that would work for tailgate cooking — if stealth were not an issue. There are lots of helpful how-to videos on YouTube for not only the mini-stoves but also how to cook on a charcoal chimney (without having to take up the space a full sized BBQ cooker would occupy. There are also mini-butane and mini-propane cookers that can work. The possibilities are almost endless.
I’ve used this system to park on the street, to park in various business parking lots (where you learn to park among a group of other vehicles so as not to trigger nosy security types), and in hotel-owned covered parking (where the bill for “losing your parking stub” is way less than a hotel’s nightly room rate. There’s even one YouTube video about 25 or so different places for stealth camping.
I own 2 tents. One is a 4 man tent that you can’t stand in unless you’re 4 ft tall. The other is a 10 man tent that a 6 ft 6 in man could stand in with more head room. It has optional dividers for 3 interior rooms. The entrance is through a 6×8 ft screen room. The tent top is screen but comes with a fitted rain proof cover. I have a double bed and 2 twin air matresses. Planning to get a 2 ft tall queen size air matress. I have a battery operated inflator and an old bicycle pump style inflator for the beds. I have 2 sleeping bags that zip together and a single one. 2 sturdy old folding directors chairs, 4 lighter weight folding camp chairs, 1 sling chair, and 2 folding long recliners. I have a sturdy folding side table and an aluminum 2x6ft folding table. I have 3 different camp stoves that use propane and a Vulcan stove made for a Dutch oven for cooking over charcoal. Ideal for baking. I have a metal tripod for hanging a Dutch oven or cowboy pot over a fire. I have both cowboy and percolator pots. I have cast-iron grills, shallow and deep castiron frying pans, extendable forks for hotdogs etc., mesh baskets for cooking vegetables or seafood over a fire, a large wok for stir fry meals or fry bread, assorted food prep and cooking tools, even different can openers to choose among, slotted and solid large spoons that double for cooking and serving, 16 in tongs, and 2, 56 qt 5 day ice chests. I have a homemade solar generator with a 100 ah 12v battery. A small solar panel that has charging ends for lanterns, radio, flashlights, and phones. And the above items for it. A crawdad trap, assorted fishing gear from antique fly rods to modern reels and poles and plenty of tackle, nets, pliers, filet knives etc. I have a shower/toilet tent and hanging shower bags, and a 5 gallon bucket with seat toilet that uses trash bags. I have 3 sizes of Dutch ovens to choose from. 4, 6, and 13 quart sizes.
I can camp comfortably or light for packpacking. I can fill my full sized truck or go in my Prius hatchback and still camp well. When I take the truck I have the solar generator an extension cord goes to the tent. It has chargers, a/string of mini lights for inside and even space for my sons cpap machine at night. I have a handful of cheap solar path lights going to the toilet tent. At dinner time the path lights are in a pasts/sauce can on the table or I’ll have candles or an antique train oil lamp along for the trip.
I could happily spend the summer camping near a well stocked lake with big trees. I have fishing licenses for 2 states. One good till next March and the other good till next July. My instate license only costs me $1 per year at Walmart or free ordered from the fish and game department. The out of state license was expensive but worth it. Camped twice there this summer. Crawdad trapping is free but I bought a $14 trap that works great. My son and I each have traps and we caught 49 crawdads in 3 hours. That was lunch for 5 people. Boiled in Cajun seasoning with potatoes and corn. Melted real butter on the side and a dual salt and pepper grinder handy. Wild greens plus wild green onions and homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers make salads. One salad was wilted wild greens with pink onion flowers and grated cheddar cheese. It sure was pretty. My favorite camp has garlicy white blooming onions in July and August and the more mild pink flowered onions in early September. They are in abundant clumps all around. Wild grapes were just starting to ripen so we ate a few in early September. Puffball mushrooms were just breaking ground in early September. They should be big enough for eating by late September.
So yes, sometimes camping and sometimes glamping.
In my vehicles are tools, jumper cables, tow straps, pry bar, t wrench and good jacks, and a bag with a pocket knife, mirror, razor, toothbrush, 2 washcloths, hand towel, chapstick, baking soda, a change of underwear and 2 pr socks, comb, shampoo, hair rinse, bodywash, lotion, alcohol, peroxide, bandaids, ace bandage, petrolium jelly, homemade Firestarters, and electronic Firestarter and a lighter, radio, rechargeable lantern and flashlight, assorted chargers, power packs, and small solar panel. A pencil box holds tea bags, assorted condiment packets and 2 sets of plastic flatware and small paper plates. A cowboy coffee pot holds dry soup mixes, 1, 3 serving mylar bag of beefstew, and zip lock bags of sugar, creamer, coffee, dried mint for tea, a little container that hold 5 seasoning including salt, 2 washcloths, a bit of soap powder, and 2 soup spoons. Tied to the handle are 2 enameled cups that hold nearly 3 cups of liquid each. I can heat food in the cups over an alcohol burner or a fire. One cup is packed with more coffee and creamer, the other holds a tiny metal stand and homemade alcohol burner made from 2 soda cans. A qt bottle of alcohol is both disinfectant and fuel. I also have a Bible and a songbook on a door in the truck along with gloves and a notebook and pen and some mylar blankets. In the car are mylar blankets, Bible, notebook, pen, and phone chargers in the console. Also in both vehicles are insulated food delivery bags. Great for cold items going home from the grocery store. I live 15 miles from the closest one. In winter I add a shopping bag with a warm blanket to each vehicle. The insulated bags could hold ice, meat, milk, and eggs for 2 or 3 people for 2 or 3 days.
I have spent a night on the side of the road in 10° weather when an alternator went out. Made breakfast of tea and graham crackers with peanutbutter then walked to a hill top phone signal to call AAA in the morning. There always something edible in another small snack box along with a tall round oatmeal box with 2 rolls to toilet paper. The snack box holds things like a pack of some kind of crackers, peanut butter, small jar of jam, a couple of plastic knife, fork, spoon, salt, pepper, and napkin packets, serving size chip bags, a few bottles of water and flavoring packs so warm water is more palatable, hard candies- usually mints, and 4 snack packs of chicken salad and crackers. That way I can still eat without a fire or in a hurry if I or a passenger need something. I’m not diabetic but I have friends who are so I’m prepared. Gatorade isn’t too bad hot in a car.
Gatorade and the water bottle flavors are available made with sugar or sugar free. I usually have a few of both.
CLERGYLADY, your thoroughness, determination, and creativity
deserve all the admiration we can possibly muster!
Here’s the “stealth camping” locations video I didn’t have handy when I posted earlier above:
25 Best Places to Sleep When Living in Your Car!
per this 17:46 minute video, from Timothy Ward on 26 Dec 2020:
Summary from the Description:
0:12 Hotel Parking Lots
0:48 Emergency Room Parking Lots
1:55 Rest Stops
2:26 Wal-Mart Parking Lots
3:19 Cracker Barrel
3:37 Industrial & Business Parks
4:20 Welcome Centers
4:49 Auto Repair & Mechanic Shops
5:37 Car Dealerships
6:20 Parking Garages
6:36 Casino Parking Lots
7:18 BLM Land
8:09 Grocery Store & Mall Parking Lots
8:40 Police Stations
9:39 City Street Parking
10:30 Residential Street Parking
11:21 Rent a Driveway/Parking Spot
12:08 Apartment Complexes
13:16 Truck Stops
14:19 Employee Parking Areas
14:50 Safe Parking Programs
15:42 24 Hour Gyms
16:18 Driveway of Friend/Family
Plus a few related YT video links.
Plus 3,655 Comments.
I;d like to chip in on the Dutch Oven. Get one with a bevel around the lid. That way you can use 2 sticks to place hot coals on the lid for a more even heating.
Secondly add 1 or 2 rolls of “vet tape”, available at your farm co-op, Tractor Supply, or pet supply store. A multitude of colors. 4″ wide and 5 yards long. Stretches and sicks to itself, not hair or fur. No sticky residue. Use to hold a compression bandage in place, use as you would an Ace bandage for a sprain, use as a sling, add some pieces of corrugated cardboard for an improvised splint until you can get to an ER. My ski patrol pals normally carry a roll or two and some corrugated cardboard for these reasons.
Your comment “look like Don King” made me laugh out loud. Says the person who had (still has) a butane curling iron (thought not sure the cells are safe to use these days). Mirrors only work well if you have enough light (think winter time in the northern US).
In reality, most would not agree that what you list would make it glamping (especially a few glammas). Spent plenty of years “camping” (had a non-tent structure sans electricity/indoor plumbing/running water) which a) saved tons of money, b) taught life lessons to the kiddos (think dorm room living) and c) was a good time. Nothing beats a cup of coffee in the woods.
Aden, you’d need a pretty good-sized vehicle to haul all of that. Imagine doing that with a family.