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I Went Glamping For The First Time And This Is Why I Encourage Other Latinas To Do The Same

This summer, I did something I never imagined I’d do: I went camping—well, let’s be real, it was more like glamping. As a girl who grew up between cities and suburbs, I don’t usually find myself sleeping in the woods or leisurely paddling across lakes and ponds. However, I decided to entertain my curiosity for the outdoors and booked a weekend getaway at a campsite in St. Petersburg, Florida. A month later: I’m honestly ready to do it all again, and I’m not the only Latina suddenly buying hiking boots and sleeping bags.

According to a report by Kampgrounds of America (KOA), more than 48 million U.S. households went camping in 2020. Among them, more than 10 million were first-time campers. With Covid-19-related stay-at-home orders in place and other industries closed, escaping outside with family and friends was one way people were finding intimacy and joy. Latinxs, in particular, have been part of the first-time camping trend; in fact, they’ve been leading the charge among communities of color. In 2012, Latinxs represented 2 percent of all campers. By 2020, that number jumped to 13 percent.

If you’ve been thinking about escaping into nature but are concerned about creepy crawlies and overwhelmed with questions like where you’ll use the bathroom or how you’ll eat, I got you covered. Like everything, you’ll want to take baby steps with camping. To set you up for success, I’m going to tell you about glamping, the perfect introduction to the outdoors for the girls who, like me, didn’t exactly grow up playing with insects at the park.

What is glamping?

Glamping, short for glamorous camping, is an outdoor vacation with familiar indoor amenities. For those who want to sit by a fire pit, bird-watch and kayak but would rather not be without essentials like a real mattress, running water and a toilet, this might be the best option for you (note: it is for me, too). Glamping can look many different ways: cabins, treehouses, safari tents or yurts.

KOA

What makes glamping different from camping?

If you want to camp with a little more comfort (or luxury), then glamping is ideal. You can still have a camping adventure, but through glamping, you’ll also have running water, electricity and a mattress to ensure the experience fits you and/or your crew’s needs. When I went glamping this year, I was accompanied by an 8-month-old. Making sure they had a cool night of sleep, warm formula and Cocomelon entertainment was necessary for me to also take in and enjoy the campground amenities of biking, kayaking and swimming.

KOA

Why should Latinas try glamping?

As jefas and jevas, we have to juggle a lot: work, school, family, relationships and some. We deserve to treat ourselves; we are worthy of an escape from the stressors and diversions of everyday life. Glamping can be that well-earned out. Less expensive than a resort or hotel vacation, being outdoors also allows you to reconnect with the land and ground yourself. It gives you an opportunity to enjoy and care for the environment. Even more, spending time away with a group of loved ones, where you’re all disconnected from distracting laptops, tablets, video game consoles and smartphones, will allow you to savor quality time with the people who mean the most to you. Giggles, recreation, nature and slow living — you’re entitled to it, too, beba.

Raquel Reichard

How do you glamp?

Now that you’re convinced that you deserve a glamping getaway, it’s time to get you started. First, think about your needs: What do you absolutely need to have access to? Jot it all down. After you’ve put together your list, consider the glamping options available to you. Whether you’re in the countryside or a major city, chances are there’s a campground near you that you never even knew about. Case in point: KOA has more than 500 campsites in North America, and unbeknownst to me, there were several in Central Florida alone. Making a list of essentials for a weekend outdoor getaway with an infant — electricity, running water, air conditioning and a stove or microwave — allowed me to decide on a deluxe cabin at the campsite. 

Next, decide what you’ll do for food. You obviously want to have your favorite camping snacks on deck —s’mores, anyone? But you can also easily cook yummy Latin dishes, like quesadillas, street corn and paellas, at campsites. Also, some campgrounds aren’t too far from bigger towns and cities, so you might even be able to Uber-Eats a quick meal, in case you’re not ready to fully abandon modern life’s conveniences. 

Finally, consider what you’ll want this experience to offer you and your glamping crew. If you want to get closer to one another, bring board and card games that help you learn about each other. If you want to slowly get out of your comfort zone, check out the recreational options at the campsite and make a goals list of what you want to do (and what you’ll need to do to accomplish it). If you’re looking for some peace and tranquility, pack your essential oils and face masks. Whatever you do, just remember to bring sunglasses, sunblock and bug spray. Whether you’re in an air-conditioned cabin or flashy tent, you are still in nature and need to prepare accordingly.

Editor’s note: The author’s glamping experience was paid for by Kampgrounds of America.

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