Airstream on the Ranch

I'm a huge fan of staycations. As much as I love exploring new places and trying out new sites, there's nothing like the comfort of camping out in your own backyard. Unfortunately, finding new campsites is difficult in my area; North County San Diego doesn't offer a huge selection of quality camping and glamping. 

So... I turned to Airbnb for inspiration. Nestled among your run-of-the-mill beach houses and condo rooms, I came across this listing for a darling Airstream... right here in Escondido! It was cute and local -- I was sold the instant I saw it, but the crazy affordable price certainly was an added bonus. 

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The owners, Kerry and Seiko, agreed to host me and Ryan for two nights, so we packed our bags, dropped the dogs off with their grandparents (sorry, doggos, no pets allowed!), and zipped right over.

Rancho de Swell is a large, beautiful property rich with old fruit trees and stylish succulent gardens. The hosts' home is a quick walk away from the 19 ft. Bambi Airstream, which sits in a secluded corral with its own lounge area. Upon first glance, the scene appeared quaint and retro... but make no mistake, this Airstream is as modern and luxurious as they come.

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I had never been near - let alone inside - an Airstream before, so I was shocked when I stepped inside and saw what seemed to be a completely furnished, albeit small, hotel room: an adorable dining area complete with a gift of prepacked granola, a kitchenette with sink, oven, and stove-top, a fridge with ample space for the ridiculous amount of food we brought, a bathroom with flushing toilet and shower, a hand-washing station and mirror, and one of the comfiest beds I have ever slept in. To a tent-camper, this took glamping to a whole new level.

Unlike most of my previous trips, this one required virtually zero unpacking. We simply loaded our food and drinks into the fridge and sat back in our lounge area to enjoy the evening air. Tiny bats swooped around the sky, scooping up insects, a pair of large hawks settled down for the night in a nearby eucalyptus tree, and the twinkling string lights came on overhead as the sun went down. I was surprised at how secluded it felt; despite being in a neighborhood, this is one of the most peaceful locations I have ever been to.


After some wine and chocolate (naturally), we retired to bed. Again, I was surprised: everything inside the Airstream is compact, with absolutely zero wasted space, and I was worried the bed might feel cramped... but we had no such issues. Even Ryan, who is six and a half feet tall, fit into the bed just fine. And believe me when I say... that bed is SO COMFY. We tried to lay back and watch a show on the little TV above the foot of the bed, but we were so comfortable that we fell asleep almost immediately.

The next morning, we awoke and had some delicious granola for breakfast, then decided to visit some of the nearest "attractions." Rancho de Swell is central to all of the great stuff in Escondido: ten minutes from the Safari Park, and five minutes from the mall, Orfila Winery, and Forgotten Barrel Winery. If you like to wine and shop without the hustle-bustle of the city outside your window, then this is the perfect vacation spot for you.


We hold a Safari Park membership and like to lunch there sometimes, so we headed over to check out the animals. Aside from the awesome wildlife, the Safari Park offers a number of fantastic restaurants, as well as a great selection of local craft beers. It is really one of my favorite things about living in Escondido.

Afterward, we headed to Orfila Winery -- another of my favorite hidden gems. Their wine is spectacular, and the tasting room sits atop a hill with a great view of the vineyards and rolling mountains beyond. If you have never been to East Escondido, trust me... it will change your entire opinion of the city!


In the evening, we picked up some delicious beers to go from Wild Barrel, a fairly new brewery in town. Then we headed back to our little Airstream home and grilled sausages for dinner on the grill in our patio area. We turned up the radio in the Airstream so we could listen to some music, then I kicked back with a good book and chilled.

As far as vacations go, this one was short but very sweet. Sometimes all you need is a quick getaway (even just ten minutes down the road) to unwind and return home feeling refreshed. Staycations have all the perks of a big trip - new scenery, time away from work, the opportunity to relax and indulge - without any of the heavy packing and unpacking, tedious driving, and stress that comes with an unfamiliar locale. 


I grew up in North County, and moved to Escondido about three years ago, and yet I am still uncovering new, amazing places to visit right here in my own backyard. I do love getting out and visiting new cities and states, but this staycation was exactly what I needed. It was a blast getting to stay in an Airstream for the very first time; it definitely will not be my last. Kerry and Seiko were gracious and attentive hosts, and for any other first-time (or long-time) Airstreamers, I would highly recommend Rancho de Swell as your next RV vacation in San Diego area. The accommodations were on point: soft bed, fully furnished living quarters (including dishes, silverware, pots and pans, kitchen accessories, radio, TV, air conditioning, and even board games), luxurious outdoor seating area, and everything was completely spotless. Whether you're a  seasoned camper looking to try some less rugged accommodations or more of a hotel/motel/RV traveler, this is the kind of accessible camping anyone can enjoy.

Scroll through the gallery below to view more photos of this amazing Airstream!




Camping in the Sky at Laguna El Prado

Southern California has been my home for nearly twenty-six years now. During that time, I have discovered countless hidden gems in the form of campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic spots, and more. However, after my recent trip to Mt. Laguna, I'm shocked that I was never aware of such a stunning area -- and so close to home!

Laguna el Prado group campground, Airbnb

During my search for new and unique camping spots in Southern California, I came across an intriguing listing for tree tents in Julian. The listing boasts hassle-free glamping in Tentsiles, complete with a kitchenette and all the necessary accessories. I've had my eye on Tentsiles for a while and have been wanting to try one out, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I immediately contacted the host, Shantel, who was graciously willing to accommodate both me and my best friend, Charlotte, for two nights so that we could experience first-hand what all the fuss is about.

Giddy with excitement at the prospects of a luxurious girls' camping trip, Charlotte and I packed our bags. Since we are both typically more rugged campers, we were very hesitant to pack lightly. The listing claims that all you need is your cooler and food, but surely that wouldn't be enough....

We packed folding chairs, several suitcases of clothes and toiletries, a mountain of blankets, towels, a cooler of food and wine, and a duffel of camping essentials, then we embarked on the two-hour drive up the mountain.

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The campground is located about a half-hour out of Julian, a cute little historic town nestled in the mountains (if you haven't experienced Julian, put it on your to-do list!). As soon as we entered Cleveland National Forest, we realized we were in for a treat: expanses of untouched land bordering the Anza-Borrego Desert and a beautiful, winding road through sprawling plains, rocky mountains, and perilous cliffs.  

Laguna El Prado Group Campground is just off the main road and easy to find, not to mention huge. There are roughly a hundred sites, a handful of which are owned by Shantel and used for Tentsiles. The rest are all regular (yet spacious) tent and RV sites. The Tentsiles are located at the very back of the campground, where visitors have complete privacy from the other sites. 

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Shantel was a fantastic host -- she greeted us when we arrived and showed us around her sites. We were to stay in a two-person tent, but in preparation for Memorial Day weekend, there were larger Tentsiles pitched, as well as a gorgeous bell tent. Charlotte and I had the honor of touring the different tents and hammocks, which we had all to ourselves since we were the only ones there. Since we had the place to ourselves, we took full advantage: we climbed inside the massive double-bubble (two-tiered and large enough for a family of eight), lounged on the hammocks, and gawked at the luxurious bell tent. It truly felt like an adult playground for us.


After snapping at least a hundred photos, we cracked open a celebratory bottle of wine and began unpacking. It quickly became clear that we did, indeed, over-pack. The site had everything we could possibly need, down to shampoo, Kleenex, and even a selection of teas. The site even comes with camp chairs (we set up our personal chairs inside the kitchenette for convenient snacking), a decorated picnic table, an array of spices and cooking essentials, and a rack full of lighter fluid, dish soap, and propane for the camp stove. Shantel truly has thought of everything, even the lighting, which I was thrilled to see consisted primarily of my absolute favorite -- solar-powered Lucis

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Next, it was time to explore the grounds. The bathrooms and showers were only a short walk away, and very clean. A few minutes down the road there was a trail-head leading out and around the lake. The sun was already beginning to set, so we decided to save the hike for the morning. We noticed that all of the sites were large and strategically-placed so that no one felt cramped or crowded next to their neighbors. It's rare to find such a comfortable and beautiful campground, and even if Tentsiles aren't your thing, the regular sites at Laguna el Prado are stunning!

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We woke up bright and early our second day and hiked over to the lake. It was more of a nature walk than a hike, which was right up our alley, and we snacked in a little grotto of pine trees over-looking the lake. Other than one particularly-aggressive wasp, it was a pleasant walk. 

Afterward, we popped into Julian for a bit, since Charlotte had never been there. I was excited to show her around the main street with all the cute shops and boutiques. Then I introduced her to some of my favorite Julian attractions: the Blue Door Winery, where we had a delicious sangria, Mom's Pies, where we had (duh) their famous apple pie, the Old Julian Book House, and of course the beautiful and historic town cemetery. 


Then, showers and lunch. Since glamping isn't glamping without decadent food, we had pan-fried lemon-pepper salmon with a side of Caesar salad and, of course, a fine chardonnay. We dined at our picnic table in the balmy shade of the pines, then grabbed our favorite books and climbed up onto the largest hammock around to do some light reading. As far as good afternoons go, this one is going to be hard to top: great food, great wine, great company, and a great view. Who could ask for anything more?

As night fell, we dragged out our mountain of blankets and huddled by the fire as long as we could. Make no mistake -- the days up there are hot, but the nights are extremely cold. After plenty of wine and cracking jokes around the fire, we retired to our little Tentsile nest in the trees. 


We were incredibly sad to leave, but I am already planning my next trip up there. One of my favorite things about Shantel's operation is that she and her husband make conscious efforts to reduce the impact of camping on the environment, while making it accessible to people of all experience levels. They have done their research and take all of the appropriate steps to keep their trees happy, as well as their guests. The hospitality we found there was unparalleled and I'm so happy to have found such an awesome location close to home; I'm very thankful to Shantel for making this experience happen. This spot is at the top of my list... I am almost certain I will revisit again before the season is over and I simply can't wait!

To see more photos from the trip, including shots of Shantel's glorious bell-tent, scroll through the gallery below! And leave a comment -- what's the best hidden gem in your area?




The Best Road-trip Hacks: Everything You Need and Nothing You Don't

Road-trips, road-trips, road-trips! Have you noticed that this is my most recent infatuation? I am so excited for summer -- not for the weather, because I actually love chilly, rainy winter days, but because I have been absolutely dying to take a road trip. I'm in the process of planning mine, and if you're smart then you should do the same!

I've already outlined the steps you should take while planning and prepping for your road trip. These are the basic essentials: picking your car and preparing it for long distances, creating a budget, and other general road-trip best practices. What that blog post doesn't discuss is HOW to road-trip. And you know I love to share travel hacks.

So here we are: a collection of my favorite road-tripping tips, tricks, and hacks.


1. Use storage bins to keep your stuff organized

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite travel hacks... I actually use this every time I camp, as well! Use storage bins or towers in the back of your car to keep your things organized -- clothes, accessories, food, whatever!



2. Use dryer sheets for freshness

Keep some dryer sheets in your luggage, shoe bags, and even around the car to ward off that inevitable road-trip smell that happens when you keep a group of dirty people in a car for too long.

3. Pack your snacks and meals

To avoid spending a ridiculous amount of money eating out and buying gas station snacks, pack some food in a cooler ahead of time. Opt for healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, nuts, yogurt, sandwiches, and lots of water. Too much junk food along the trip will have you feeling bloated and gross by the end. TIP: Use a car cooler for added convenience and super fresh snacks!

4. Get a gas card

You'll be buying a lot of fuel on the way, so you may as well benefit from all that money you're spending! Gas cards will reward your gas purchases with cash back, points, and even hotel credits.


5. Use a cereal container as a car trash can

As you can probably imagine, the trash builds up quick on a road-trip. Before you know it, the car will be filled with garbage: food scraps on the floor, wrappers stuffed into the cup-holders, empty water bottles and soda cans crunching under-foot... ugh! Use a plastic cereal container lined with a plastic bag to keep the trash where it belongs.


6. Bring a handful of change

Somewhere along the way, you're bound to hit an unexpected toll road. Toll roads are great for road-trips for a few reasons: they can make the trip faster by taking shorter routes and avoiding traffic, and they are often more scenic than the typical freeway. You'll need some spare change to use these toll roads, so scavenge under your couch cushions before you leave the house.

7. Keep your luggage organized

Use gallon bags or packing cubes to keep your stuff organized while you travel. It's easy to just stuff your clothes into your suitcase all willy-nilly when you're lazy or in a hurry, but packing cubes really help keep everything in its place -- including keeping your dirties separate from your cleans.

8. Buckle up!

Don't roll your eyes -- I'm not talking about while you're driving (although you obviously need to buckle up while driving, too). I'm talking about when you get out of your car in the middle of the afternoon to explore the local area. Before you leave the car, buckle your seat belt behind you. This will keep the metal buckle away from the window, where it typically soaks up the sunny summer rays and then burns the ever-loving goodness out of you when you get back into the car.


9. Mount your phone

If you don't have one already, you should definitely consider investing in a car phone mount. You will probably be using your phone for navigation along the way, and it's crucial to have your map in plain view while you drive, while complying with the hands-free law. If you don't have time to buy a real mount, you can make your own using a binder clip, duct tape, rubber bands, and some string.



10. Use a shower caddy for mess-free meals

Even if you do plan on packing a lot of your own snacks and meals, you're still bound to go through a few drive-thrus. If you keep a little shower caddy with you, you can store your food without worrying about spills or messes. Just load it up with your fries, burger, nuggets, sauces, drinks, etc., and snack away!

11. Hang a shoe organizer on the back of your seat

Keep your gadgets, maps, books, games, entertainment, snacks, and everything else organized by storing things in the pouches of a shoe organizer on the back of your seat. Never lose your earbuds or playing cards again!

12. Eat like a local

Check out Road Food to find cool, local places to eat when you get tired of Big Macs. Part of the fun of road-tripping is trying out different restaurants and local cuisine, so plan to stop at a few unique places! To give your phone battery a break, you can also buy the book to bring with you.

13. Download a gas app before you go

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There are lots of different apps, but my favorite is Gas Buddy. Use it to find the cheapest and closest gas stations along your route to help keep gas costs down.

14. Be prepared to sleep in the car

If you want to save on lodging costs, or just pull off the road for a quick nap, pack a car air mattress so you can sleep in style. You really never know when you might get stuck without a hotel -- or maybe you just want to pull into a campsite. Trust me, a car mattress is so much better than sleeping in a cramped, partially-reclined seat.

Here's a great video that will help you get in the road-tripping mood with some fun and simple road-tripping advice.


Plan Your Road-trip Like a Boss: Road-tripping Preparation

After long last... it's finally almost here: summer! The first official day of summer is actually June 21st, but for those of us in SoCal, it has felt like summer for a while now. Besides those occasional rainy days (it rained all day Tuesday, but it's 80 degrees and sunny right now), the weather has been consistently warm and bright; people are trading pants for shorts and jackets for tanks, and the tourists have begun flocking to the beaches. 

There's really no questioning the fact that summer is road-trip season. The fine weather makes for great road-tripping conditions, and of course all of the awesome vacation and tourism spots will just be opening for the season. So now is the perfect time to start planning your first road-trip of the season... I'm already planning mine!

Whether you're an avid road-tripper or a first-timer, there are a few preparation tips you have to know while planning your trip. So pay attention!

Mapping It Out

It's great to stay spontaneous and flexible on your road-trip, but you do need to be at least a little prepared: have a final destination (at least a general area) picked out, and plan ahead which roads you will take to get there. Be sure to research your route ahead of time to ensure you don't get stuck with a closed or blocked road. Also research some places you might want to stop at so that you can make the most of your trip! Sites like Trip It and Road Trippers can help you map out your route so that you have at least a general idea of where you are going and how long it will take you.

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Choosing and Prepping Your Vehicle

Your Prius is probably a great option for buzzing to and from work, but do you really want to be stuck in a tiny car for hours and hours on end? And where will all of your supplies go?

Think carefully when choosing your road-tripping vehicle. Vans, buses, RVs, and pop-up trailers are obviously great choices because they are spacious and have lots of room for storage, but not everyone has access to these kinds of vehicles. Opt for at least a mid-size sedan (depending on how many people are going, you may need to upgrade for more room); SUVs and hatchbacks are also great options. Tip: pick something with AC and heat!

Before you leave, be sure to prep your vehicle by double-checking all features, such as headlights, brakes, and windshield wipers. Fill your tires, as well as your oil and coolant, and bring spare bottles of these fluids with you just in case. A road-trip can be ruined very quickly by a break-down in the middle of nowhere.

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Creating a Budget

It's simple enough to get in the car and set out on an epic road-trip, but there can be some pretty serious costs involved, especially if you don't plan ahead. Map out your trip and calculate how much gas money you will need; also factor in lodging every night (which can be anywhere from sleeping in your van for free to $60/night at Motel 6) and food. You can cut some of these costs by packing snacks and meals ahead of time and by opting for more affordable lodging using Airbnb or Couch Surfing. Just remember to be safe while using these resources!

Before you leave, be sure to run this budget by the group and collect money ahead of time... it's a bummer when someone tags along but doesn't contribute. Everyone should bring credit or debit cards, as well as plenty of spare cash. Besides the essentials like gas and food, you also want money for experiences and sight-seeing, as well as a few souvenirs!


Being Smart About It

There are several road-tripping success factors that don't occur to people. For example, plan to stay off the road during peak rush-hour times. Maybe plan to do activities or explore the local area during these times, and save the driving for lighter traffic conditions. This will save you time, gas, and frustration!

Pack light. Don't get sucked into packing like you would for a hotel vacation. You will take up valuable car space and waste gas by overloading your car with junk. Take only the essentials and opt for backpacking supplies when possible to save space and reduce weight. 

Plan your gas-ups. Keep an eye on your gauge and know exactly when you will need to refill. Aim to refill in large cities, where gas prices are more competitive, as opposed to Bob's Middle-of-Nowhere Gas. Bob knows he can mark his prices way up because he's your only option when you're on empty with no other gas station in sight. There are also a few apps that can help you save on gas while you're on the road.


Staying Safe

Last, but certainly not least... you already know I'm a huge advocate of travel and camping safety. Road-trips are no exception -- in fact, road-trips have the potential to be very dangerous if you are not properly prepared. 

Always leave a copy of your route/itinerary with a trusted loved one so that they know where you are going. Everyone should bring their cellphones and chargers so that they can be prepared in case of an emergency. Pack a physical map in case your GPS goes down while or you get lost. Bring hard copies of important phone numbers, like AAA, insurance companies, and the state police. Always ALWAYS have a first aid kit with you and plenty of water (at least 2L per person, per day). Bring all necessary medications, and remember to pack sunscreen and bug repellent. 

Road-trips are one of the best summer experiences a person can have -- if everything goes well. Sure, there will inevitably be some hiccups along the way... but as long as you are prepared before you hit the road, it is bound to be an exciting, unforgettable adventure!



The Best of Amazon: Camping and Glamping Accessories Under $20

Don't get me wrong, I love walking around REI so I can climb inside the tents, sit in the chairs, try on the camping gear.... But I'm also a lazy shopper, which is why I love having Amazon Prime. Since I can order anything and have it on my doorstep within two days, I usually rely on Amazon for most of my basic camping and glamping needs. 

Because I spend so much time browsing camping gear online, I've come across quite a few awesome camping products on Amazon. Some of these I own; the others, I want to own. Either way, these are some of the best camping accessories available on Amazon for under $20. If you've tried any of these items, let me know what you think of them in the comments below!



7 Glamp-Worthy Camping Cocktails

Picture your next camping trip: secluded woods or a scenic desert, wildlife hustling and bustling all around, maybe a babbling brook; and you're reclining in your hammock or camp chair, just soaking it all in. The sun is just going down and the fire is crackling beside you, and you have a nice cold drink in your hand.

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Ahhhhhhh... those are the moments I live for.

For me, camping isn't quite the same without a splash of alcohol. Of course, I love my good old beer and wine, but sometimes a camping trip calls for something a little extra. Why shouldn't we be able to enjoy a well-mixed cocktail while camping? It's not rocket science; it just takes a little planning and prepping. Not all drinks are suited for the great outdoors, but I've gathered this list of my favorite camping drinks that you can pre-mix for your next big adventure. So break out the shaker set and garnishes --  we're going glamping.


Mountain Martini


2.5 oz. gin

.5 oz. dry vermouth

orange bitters (optional)

1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish


Pour the gin and vermouth into a glass and stir -- or mix a large batch in a pitcher. Store in a sealable container; pour orange bitters into a separate container; pack desired garnishes in a Tupperware or plastic baggie. To drink, shake with ice and strain into glass, top with orange bitters to taste, and garnish.


The Muddy Mary


3 oz. tomato juice

1.5 oz. vodka

.5 oz. lemon juice

Worcestershire sauce

Celery salt

Ground pepper

Hot sauce

Celery stalk/pickle/pepperoncini for garnish

Lemon/lime wedge for garnish


Mix liquid ingredients in glass (or sealable pitcher for large batches). Pack garnishes and spices in separate containers or baggies. To drink, pour over ice, and add desired spices and garnishes.



Glamp-Ed Gimlet


2.5 oz. gin

.5 oz. simple syrup

.5 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

Lime wedges for garnish


Add all ingredients to a glass (or sealable pitcher for large batches) and mix. You can substitute lime cordial for both lime juice and simple syrup, if desired. Package lime garnishes in separate container or baggie. To drink, pour over ice and garnish with lime wedge.


Scenic Sangria


1 bottle red wine (chianti, young garnacha, or pinot noir recommended)

12 oz. seltzer

1 cup orange juice

.5 cup brandy

1 orange, sliced thinly

1 apple, sliced thinly

1 cup blueberries

granulated sugar


Mix the liquid ingredients (except the seltzer) in a sealable pitcher; add sugar to taste (1/4 cup recommended). Stir in fruit. Pack seltzer in separate, sealable container. To drink, pour over ice and top with a splash of seltzer.


Twin-Peaks Punch


3 cups amber rum

2 cups simple syrup

4 cups any fruit juice (orange recommended)

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice




Combine rum, fruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in sealable pitcher. Add a splash of bitters and a dash of nutmeg to taste. To drink, pour over ice and serve.


The Glamparita

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Agave nectar

Salt for garnish


This one can be made completely according to taste. My recommendations: combine equal parts freshly-squeezed lime juice and tequila. Add agave to taste for sweetness. Pack in sealable pitcher; pack lime wedges and salt in separate sealable containers. To drink, rim glass with salt, pour cocktail over ice, and garnish with lime wedge.


Moon Over Manhattan


2 oz. rye whiskey

.5 oz. sweet vermouth


maraschino cherries


Combine whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in glass (or pitcher for large batches) and stir. Pack in sealable container; pack cherries in separate container or baggie. To drink, shake with ice and strain into glass; garnish with maraschino cherry.

Comment below to share your favorite camping cocktail recipes!

7 Wine Country Getaways to Inspire Your Mother's Day

I don't know your mom, but I can only assume she's just as awesome and hard-working as my mom is. And I know what my mom wants this (and every) Mother's Day: a little reminder that she is loved and appreciated, and a whole lot of flippin' peace and quiet. 

You wish you could buy your mom a private island, complete with her own mansion and yacht, because that's what she deserves, right? Unfortunately, you can't. But you can give her the next best thing by planning a quiet, scenic getaway to wine country. Whether it's Napa, Bordeaux, Willamette Valley, or Cape Town... there are amazing wine destinations all over the world.

I've put together this collection of some of my favorite wine country camping and glamping getaways to inspire you this Mother's Day. Find a vineyard near you and book a few nights for your amazing mother so that she can relax and unwind... and maybe get a little tipsy. Hey, she's earned it.


Ty Croes Farm Vineyard - Anglesey, Wales

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Located on the beautiful beaches of Wales, this vineyard accommodates mobile homes, RVs, and tent camping. Guests can enjoy the beach on a warm day, observe the local flora and fauna, visit the 6th century church that stands at the entrance to the campgrounds, hike to visit Bryn Celli Ddu (a nearby ancient burial monument), or just relax and sip wine on the grounds.


Chateau Ramsak - Maribor, Slovenia


This remote paradise offers a luxurious tree house in Slovenia wine country. Guests can enjoy their intimate lodgings and take in the stunning scenery from their private Jacuzzi on the terrace. If they feel like venturing from their cozy tree house, they can enjoy the wine from the vineyard and the outdoor cinema on property. Other lodgings are available as well, including a huge tent for families and a more cozy tent for couples.


Hickman Family Vineyards - Bangor, CA


This scenic vineyard is located outside of Sacramento in Northern California. It caters to RVs and tent campers alike. Campers can enjoy local activities such as hiking, boating, and snowmobiling (if it's the right time of year), or they can entertain themselves on the grounds by tasting wine, picnicking, playing bocce ball, or barbecuing a delicious meal.


Slattery Vintage Estates - Nehawka, NE


This Nebraska winery offers fully-furnished bungalows on-site for their guests. The decor is delightfully antique, and the grounds themselves are gorgeous. They offer a variety of activities and events, including a Mother's Day brunch buffet, as well as live music throughout the season. 


San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar & Snore - Escondido, CA


Near and dear to my heart, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located in my city of Escondido in Southern California. The Safari Park is a fantastic destination for all animal lovers and offers a variety of packages for guests who wish to stay in their safari tents, which sit right on the edge of multiple animal exhibits. Snacks and wine are available throughout the park, as well as in your lodgings, and you can enjoy breakfast in front of your tent with a fantastic view of some of the world's most spectacular animals. While the Safari Park is not a vineyard itself, it happens to be located only ten minutes away from one of my local favorites, Orfila Vineyards.


Vineyard Yurt - Barcelona, Spain


This roomy yurt is both comfy and eco-friendly. A wood-burning stove keeps you cozy on chilly nights, and in warm weather you can venture outside to enjoy the private outdoor picnic area. It comes equipped with an outdoor kitchen and barbecue area, as well as a bath house. Best, it all runs on solar power. You can kick back and soak up the stunning Spanish vineyard all while helping save the planet. 


Mendocino Grove - Mendocino, CA


Nestled in the wine country of Mendocino, California, this peaceful and secluded site consists of several fully-stocked safari tents. You can lounge outside on your private patio and listen to the gentle sounds of the forest while sipping some of the local wine, and at night you can roast s'mores in your fire pit or take a relaxing hot shower. If you're feeling adventurous, you could explore the nearby state parks, beaches, and coastal bluffs by going hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding.

DIY Camping Hacks: Glamp with Household Items

My recent camping checklist is a great guide for the beginning camper or glamper. If you're just getting started with camping, it's important to have a fool-proof list of essential camping gear. If money and time are no issue, it's easiest to just order these items from Amazon or purchase from your local camping or sporting goods store. 

But if you're like me, you're always looking for ways to DIY or cut corners. If I can avoid a trip to the store or save a few bucks by throwing together some household items, I absolutely will. Or, if you're not fully invested in camping yet and want some cheap alternatives to full-time camper gear, I have just the thing for you.

I've put together some of my go-to glamping and camping hacks for both avid travelers and first-timers. These will save you money and time by using everyday, household items instead of expensive camping gear.


DIY Camp Lighting

Besides a few flashlights, you'll want to illuminate your site with lanterns or string lights -- after all, lighting is one of the most important aspects of camping and glamping. If you don't have any of these on-hand, you can pull together a few alternatives. Strap a headlamp to a jug of water, or drop a few glowsticks in, and you'll have an instant DIY lantern!

You can also grab any convenient lighting you have around the house, like flameless candles and tealights, and place them in mason jars or tin cans with holes hammered in the sides.

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DIY Camp Decor

Sure, that IG-worthy glamping aesthetic comes at a price: designer furniture and bedding can be pricey. But your camp decor doesn't have to be. Take a trip to Ross or Marshall's and pick up a few cheap items, or grab what you have around the house! In the past, I've decorated my glampsites with old Christmas decor and other random items. Everything in this photo, I already had lying around! Fake plants, bath and welcome mats, entry rugs, throw pillows and blankets, and little figurines -- it's all fair game!

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DIY Camping Storage

I've used a variety of camping storage solutions in the past: duffel bags, plastic bins, backpacks, you name it. One of my favorite camping hacks is using a storage tower to transport and organize your camping gear. It's great for small items, like underwear and socks, snacks, hand warmers, flashlights, paracord bundles, plates and cutlery, etc. You might have a decorative one around your house that you could re-purpose for your trip, or even a plastic one

Another camping storage idea that I love is using a laundry hamper or basket to transport your gear while traveling. Once you arrive, you can unpack everything and use the hamper for dirty clothes, or whatever other storage you would like


DIY Tinder

There are so many good DIY fire starters out there, but if you want to stick with what you have around the house, try that old bag of Doritos in the pantry. Yes -- Doritos are flammable! Instead of throwing away those stale chips, bring them with you to toss under your fire logs to get that flame started. You can also bring a baggie full of your dryer lint. There's a reason you empty your lint trap after every use -- that stuff is crazy flammable. Or, grab a handful of cattails from your yard (or your neighbor's yard?) to use as tinder. If you want something more official, DIY some tinder by dipping cotton swabs or cotton balls in wax; or take an empty egg carton and place lumps of coal in each compartment, then light it under your logs. Like I said... so many good fire tinder options!

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DIY Coffee Pods

Some hardcore campers and glampers opt to purchase portable espresso and coffee makers. That's cool, but not necessary. For no-hassle morning coffee, just pretend it's tea. Prep coffee pods by bundling single (or double) servings of grounds in coffee filters. Tie off the bundles with dental floss, twine, or rubber bands, and trim the ends with scissors. There you have it -- DIY coffee pods! Toss them in a jar or Tupperware for travel, then pop them into boiling water to brew some instant, delicious fuel.

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DIY Camp Stove/Grill

If you don't have a fancy portable camp stove, or if you're just doing some light backyard camping/glamping, create a cheap stove/grill by following this tutorial. All you need is a large tin can, foil, coals, and a cookie rack. It's totally easy and really serves the purpose!

Or, create a long-lasting cooking surface by carving a log, like this. It will burn for hours and keep you warm while you cook.


DIY Furniture

If you want to get glampy, spruce up your site with some furnishings. Take anything and everything you have and turn it into camping furniture: bean bag chairs, sack chairs, folding chairs, armchairs, small ottomans, rugs, end and night tables, etc. You can even bring crates and boxes to turn upside-down, creating makeshift tables or stands.

No sleeping bag? No problem! Grab all of your favorite blankets and pillows and create a soft sleeping area in your tent. Get creative -- look around your home and figure out what you can do with the objects and furniture at hand!

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DIY Food Solutions

Cooking can be tricky while camping. Many people - including yours, truly - have resorted to just eating beans out of a can to avoid all the hassle and mess. But creating delicious camping meals doesn't have to be a struggle. For breakfast eggs, pre-crack and scramble your eggs and store them in a sealed, spouted container like this one or even a water bottle. When the time comes, just pour into the pan and cook -- no mess!

S'mores are a camping necessity, so you'll need camp skewers. You could buy some, or you could do what I did growing up: make some out of wire clothes hangers. Just grab some old hangers and twist them into shape with pliers. Here's a good tutorial for you.

Your hands are bound to be sticky after eating a few S'mores, so create a nifty hand-washing station using an old laundry detergent container, a bungee cord, and a paper towel roll. Add a bottle of eco friendly hand soap... or take your average bar of soap and place it into a pouch created by sewing together an old washcloth -- this creates a foaming soap loofah that won't slip into the dirt!

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DIY First Aid Kit

I'm a huge safety advocate, and I do encourage everyone to keep a fully-stocked first aid kit with their camping gear at all times. But in a pinch, you can create your own with an old, empty prescription pill bottle. Just fill it with a few bandaids, a small vial of antibacterial fluid, cotton swabs, a strip of gauze, and some alcohol swabs. Voila -- easy, travel-sized first-aid kit!

And there you have it... all of my favorite camping and glamping hacks and DIYs. Comment below and let me know some of your personal camping tricks!


The Bug-Out Bag: The Best Survival Kit List

Recently, I shared my own personal camping checklist with an optional glamping upgrade. These are all of the items the average camper should bring with them on a trip. However, every camper is different: some of us bring our own tents, some of us travel to pre-furnished glampsites, and some of us camp in RVs. Depending on your style, your personal camping checklist might vary drastically from mine. 

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Regardless of how you camp, there is something that all travelers and vacationers should have packed in their vehicle: a bug-out bag. If you haven't heard of bug-out bags, they're pre-packed backpacks or duffels that contain items you will need in a survival situation. I'm not talking about running out of wine in the middle of your camping trip; I'm talking about being stuck in the middle of nowhere in a life-or-death situation and no immediate rescue in sight.

Sounds pretty bleak, right? No doubt about it... the thought of having to use a bug-out back is terrifying. But it's better than being in a bad situation and not having an emergency survival kit. If you pack smart and keep your bag with you wherever you go, your odds of making it through a survival situation go way up.

I'll preface the list with this: the items you put in your bag depend on your geographic location. This list contains all of the basics, but you may want to swap out or omit certain items, particularly the clothing. Consider your environment and think critically -- what would you need to survive out there? And remember: each item you include should be as small, lightweight, and practical as possible.

With that being said, read on and don't forget to download the printable version of this list by clicking the button below.



Aim for something lightweight, waterproof, and at least 30L. Durability is a must, since it will be towing a lot of heavy gear. Padded straps and waist straps are added bonuses. Try this one or this one.


Cash ($200-$300 small bills)

Prepaid card ($100)

Gas card ($50)



Water (at least 2 liters)

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Water filter/purification tablets

 Canteen or insulated thermos



Energy bars

Backpack meals

Food bucket



1 pair sturdy shoes

2 pairs socks

1 pair long pants

1 t-shirt

1 long-sleeve shirt

2 pairs underwear

1 versatile jacket

1 set long underwear

1 hat

1 bandana/shemagh

1 rain poncho

1 pair work gloves



First Aid Kit

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Camp stove/fuel

Insect repellent

Mylar emergency blanket





Pepper spray

Duct tape

Fishing kit

Sewing kit

1 Contractor garbage bag



Well, those are the basics. You'll notice that some of the items are two-fers, like the solar charger/LED light and the fire starter/compass. Again, consider editing this list to suit your needs. Or, you can head over to Amazon and buy pre-stocked bug-out bags if you don't have the time to build your own, like this one or this one! Or, this one comes with some of the basics and allows you to make some of your own additions.

These bags should be in your car or RV at all times. They're not just for travelers; a bug-out bag is an essential survival item for families and individuals. Whether you're with me in California, dreading the next big earthquake, or with Glamp-Ed co-founder Sophia in Texas, dreading the next big hurricane, everyone should have a pre-packed survival kit on hand. You really never know when the unthinkable may happen, and it pays to be prepared.

The Only Camping/Glamping Checklist You'll Ever Need

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The title says it all: this is my personal, comprehensive list of what to bring camping with you. The first part of this post is a simple checklist of camping essentials for anyone spending time outdoors, whether you're a bare-bones camper or the most glamorous glamper. The second part explains how to upgrade from camping to glamping! To print out this list, click the button below.

The Basics


Tent footprint

Extra stakes




Extra batteries

Hand-broom & dustpan

Sleeping bag/blankets

Sleeping mats/air mattress & pump



Collapsible chairs


550 cord

Lighter/weatherproof matches

Tinder/fire starter


Cooler & ice

Duct tape

1 gallon of water per person, per day

Water bottle/canteen

First aid kit





Long-sleeve shirts




Long underwear



Lightweight jacket

Heavyweight jacket


Extra underwear/socks

Tennis shoes/sneakers

Hiking boots


Laundry bag/stuff sack

Personal Items

Bug spray

Feminine hygiene products


All-purpose soap



Hair ties



Towel set (various sizes)

Toilet paper

Wet wipes

Lip balm

Hand sanitizer

Compact mirror





Kitchen Supplies

Camp stove & fuel

Grill rack


Portable coffee/espresso maker

Dining set (plates, bowls, utensils, cups)

Paper towels

Bottle opener/corkscrew 

Can opener

Roasting skewers

Trash bags

Cutting board

Mixing bowls

Aluminum foil


Cooking oil


Wash basin

Dish rags



Sports gear (kayaks, fishing poles, bikes, etc.)


Charging cables

Waterproof electronics case



Hand warmers

Pet supplies

Books/board games/cards

Notebook & pen

Radio/Bluetooth speaker

Walkie talkies




Pocket knife/multi-tool

Small/collapsible shovel


Sewing/repair kit

Fire extinguisher




Resealable bags

Water filter/tablets

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Well, that's just about everything I have on my basic camping checklist. Typically, I keep all of these items packed and ready to go in a few duffels and hardy plastic bins. That way, when we're leaving on a trip, we can just load up all of our pre-packed stuff and go.

If you're looking for a glampier experience, your checklist is a little more open-ended. There is a wide range of possible items you could bring to enhance your trip, so I'll just mention a few essentials that will upgrade your camping trip to a glamping trip:

Extra furniture (poufs, armchairs, ottomans, sack chairs, beanbag chairs, etc.)

Welcome mat

Indoor/outdoor rugs

Decor (bunting, garlands, wicker baskets, wooden crates, macrame hangings, etc.)


Dutch oven

Extra pillows/blankets/throws

Flameless candles

Storage towers to organize your items

Mosquito netting

Solar light stakes

Shatterproof wine glasses

Solar camp shower

Privacy pop-up tent

Folding table


Solar panels/chargers

Melamine dish set

Decorative solar lights/string lights

Full set of kitchen utensils (measuring spoons/cups, spatula, tongs, etc.)

Gourmet food/prepped meals


Glamping doesn't have to be complicated! Essentially, bring anything and everything you need to feel cozy and at-home at your campsite. Favorite blanket? Bring it! Chandelier? Why not! Table decor? Yes! For other tips on how to turn camping into glamping, try this.

Stick to this list and I promise you will have a great time, wherever you go. With the essentials and good company, it's impossible to go wrong!


Green Are the Hills and Green They Will Stay

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Spring is nearly upon us, and with it one of my favorite days of the year... St. Patrick's Day! This day will always hold a special place in my heart; growing up, St. Paddy's Day was a real treat in my family. As kids, we set traps overnight to catch leprechauns, and we awoke to trails of shamrock garland leading down the hallway and stairs to baskets of green goodies: green candy, live plants, green teas, costume jewelry and other accessories... all green. And, of course, the leprechaun always escaped our traps unscathed, leaving little bits of naughty mischief in his wake. And Mom always cooked the best corned beef stew -- and still does, despite my efforts to imitate her recipe.

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As I got older, I became that weirdo who cared way too much about St. Paddy's: every year, I brought green treats to work to share with coworkers, made green crafts to decorate the house with, and - of course - established a particular fondness for Guinness.

I am not alone in my love for the holiday, but unlike most Americans, I see it as more than just a day for excessive drinking. To me, St. Paddy's Day is a festive, magical event that represents friendship, peace, kindness, thankfulness, and above all else, generosity. It is a day to appreciate those around us (friends, family, coworkers, neighbors... yes, even the annoying ones) as well as nature. Some of my fondest St. Paddy's Day memories are of gray, drizzly days when the hills are freshly green and covered in thick fog.... Despite its revelry, St. Paddy's Day has always meant, for me at least, a strange sense of calm peacefulness.

In celebration of this special day, I want to invite you to share my appreciation of all things green... particularly nature. If you camp or glamp, then you probably already do -- but sometimes even nature lovers like ourselves forget the impact we have on the environment around us when we camp. The next time you're out there in the wilderness, doing what you love, please remember that it is up to responsible people such as ourselves to preserve and protect the natural beauty we enjoy so much. 

Tread Softly

You already know all of the popular mantras... pack it in, pack it out; take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. But of those footprints, did you know that your trusty old hiking boots could be damaging the delicate flora in your campsite? On the rugged hiking trail, tough heavy footwear is appropriate; but if you're just lounging around your site (as I often do), you should opt for softer footwear, such as a reliable sneaker or tennis shoe.

Ditch the Disposables

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Many people use disposable dinnerware while camping because of its convenience, but think of the hundreds of plastic spoons and forks, and all of the paper plates that are going into the landfills. Trade your disposables for a trusty set of melamine dishware and reusable utensils. Not only will it save you money in the long run, real dishware is sturdier and looks nicer, and is way better for the environment. 

Clean with Clean Products

When it comes time to wash those melamine plates, reach for a biodegradable soap instead of regular dish soap, which can harm local wildlife. Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is a good alternative. It's completely biodegradable, and the brand offers a few other similar products, like wipes and hand soap. Just remember to keep your waste water away from rivers and lakes; dump it onto dry ground instead.

Pack Up, Pick Up

When you're packed up at the end of your trip and ready to leave, do one last thorough sweep of your site. Pick up anything that doesn't belong... yes, even if it isn't yours. Don't let others' sloppiness be your excuse for leaving your site trashed. You would be surprised how many bottle caps get left behind in fire pits and bushes. And, ultimately, you are responsible for leaving the site better than you found it. 


Burn Local

Many campgrounds will remind you of this when you arrive. If possible, wait to buy wood until you are local to your campground (don't bring wood from the next state over). Every environment is unique, with its own particular ecosystem in place. Wood from other areas could harbor dangerous bugs or spores, which have been responsible for devastating entire ecosystems in the past.


Respect the Rules

This one seems obvious, but you never know. Yes, it's a total bummer when you're not allowed to hang hammocks, but it's not just because your host is a jerk and wants to ruin your trip. Hammocks can damage trees by cutting the bark and making them susceptible to destructive beetles. Or... certain species are brittle and cannot reliably support the weight of a hammock, and may pose a threat to you and your campmates. Listen to your host and obey any posted signs... stick to the worn trails instead of blazing your own, as you could harm delicate (or possibly even endangered) wildlife. Be respectful and courteous; the rules are there for a reason.

Buy Green

Whenever possible, opt for eco-friendly products. These days, nearly every camping product comes in an eco-friendly option, including tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and totes, shoes, clothing, gear, and more. Do your research before you buy, and opt for a brand that either offers eco-friendly products or makes a conscious effort to reduce waste and protect the environment. Check out this list for more suggestions and ideas.

Donate to the Cause

If you have some spare cash lying around, consider donating to any number of environmental charities, such as WWF or NGS. Some areas offer a sort of environmental membership, like The Greener Camping Club. For a fee, this organization offers its members access to a variety of eco-friendly, sustainable campgrounds, all while using funds to plant trees, install nesting and bat boxes, and otherwise support environmental preservation projects.


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A Weekend and a Monster Story at Lilac Oaks

For my birthday in December, I received a brand new, very cool tent. I had been thinking about upgrading for a while and had my eye on the Cabela's 10x10 Outback Tent Lodge. There's nothing wrong with my old tents, and I will probably continue to use them on lighter, less glampy trips, but I was looking for something a little larger and more comfortable. 

The box had been sitting in my house for the past few weeks and I was dying to take her out for a spin. I circled President's Day weekend on the calendar and anxiously counted down the days. And after much anticipation, we finally packed up and drove up the hill to gorgeous Valley Center. We had been hoping for something a little further from home (my boyfriend, Ryan, has been gunning for Red Rock all year), but we didn't have the time to make a long drive and instead opted for something local.

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Lilac Oaks Campground is similar to Dixon Lake in the sense that it is a hidden gem here in North County San Diego: it is only minutes from our home and yet you feel like you could be hours outside of city limits. Because half of the property is available for long-term RV rental, the campground is the perfect combination of nature and amenities -- clean bathrooms, warm showers, coin-op laundry, and sites that offer both solitude and amazing scenery in the heart of Valley Center. This is not a rugged campground by far, but make no mistake -- even hardcore nature lovers will not be disappointed: large, old oaks providing plenty of shade, an adorable duck pond, and a wide variety of sites to suit every mood. 

So let me tell you... this new tent is awesome. The moment we pulled it out of the bag, we immediately recognized the quality of the materials. Tough, durable nylon, carbon fiber poles, self-cinching guy lines, and hooked stakes that are not messing around... at the end of our trip, the stakes were so strong and stubborn that we were forced to dig them out of the ground with a hatchet. Despite its size and weight, the tent went right up with no issue. Other than our Kelty Acadia 6, I think this was the easiest tent setup I've ever done.

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The sitting room

The sitting room

Once you figure out how to work around the center support pole - which allows for a whopping 8.5-foot ceiling height - there is an incredible amount of space inside. Because the bottom foot of the walls erect vertically, then slope inward to the top, the 10x10 footprint feels much roomier than the average slanted-wall tent; it makes a world of difference in what you can fit inside the tent, as well as the livable space.

I loaded the tent up with all of my favorite decor, as well as a few new items I recently picked up. I was immediately in love with the setup: a sitting "room," a comfy sleeping area, a storage corner for luggage and basics, and a dog accessory corner (consisting of a storage tower filled with dog supplies, because my babies are as spoiled as I am). Even after I was finished, there was still plenty of room inside for moving around, and I realized we could have brought twice the supplies without any storage issue!

The sleeping space

The sleeping space

Because San Diego was expecting a cold snap, we opted for function over fashion when it came to the bed. We ditched most of the cozy blankets and pillows and brought along our Teton queen sleeping bag and Ryan's trusty old Cabela's bag, which survived both of his deployments and many cold desert nights. To put as much between us and the frozen ground as possible, we layered the open Cabela's bag on top of a queen air mattress, then threw our super comfy Teton on top. The Teton is rated for below freezing temperatures, but even so, it was seriously frigid out there after the sun went down.

Dog Accessory Storage Tower

Dog Accessory Storage Tower

Our poor dogs... they're tough little things but terribly pampered -- and at the end of the day, they are not built for cold weather. According to some of my reading, little Phoebe only has an optimal temperature range of about 20°, so the near-freezing nights kind of crushed her spirit. But we did our best to make them warm and comfortable; we brought along both of their beds and an entire collection of blankets specifically for their use, as well as their own personal storage tower filled to the brim with dog sweaters, scarves, beanies, leashes and harnesses, treats, food, several bowls, and a selection of their favorite toys. 

Like I said, they're terribly pampered.

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During the day, we spent most of our time relaxing (our favorite camping activity). Unfortunately, the campground does not allow hammocks due to brittle oak branches, but this was only a minor inconvenience for us. Our first evening there (Friday) was spent setting up, with barely enough time to warm ourselves by a fire before bedtime. Saturday afternoon, we opened a chilled bottle of one of our favorite wines and lounged in the shade. I had intentionally picked one of the shadier spots available for ultimate relaxation. We took a short lunch break to snack on some Asian cucumber salad, which I had prepped before leaving home, and walked the dogs around the campground to explore, but for the most part it was a lazy day.

That night, after the four of us had crawled into bed to escape the cold, I had the displeasure of being awoken by footsteps crunching around our site. My first thought went to a small scavenger -- perhaps a raccoon or possum. But after a few seconds, I realized that the footsteps were that of a much larger animal or, perhaps, a person. I froze and held my breath, listening to the footsteps come closer and closer to the tent, until I could sense that they were just outside the tent door. 

By this time, I was almost certain it was a serial killer invading our campsite, intending to sneak into our tent and murder us in our sleep. I considered waking Ryan, who was blissfully snoring beside me. But just as I reached to shake him awake, the invader took a few more steps and caught themselves in the scarce light outside, casting a disproportioned - but very clear - shadow across the wall of our tent: it was an incredibly large canine of some sort.

Photo credit: Unknown

Photo credit: Unknown

I heard it sniff at our tent door and I instinctively felt for Phoebe and Mattis to be sure that they were indeed safe inside the sleeping bag with us. The creature paced slowly around the perimeter of our tent, sniffing the whole way. As I listened, I suddenly heard a shout from a nearby campsite: one of our neighbors had spotted the thing lurking and brought it to the attention of his companion: "Wolf! Look -- it's a huge wolf!"  My heart pounded and the dogs stirred inside the sleeping bag... but within seconds the creature was gone, back to wherever it had come from. I breathed a sigh of relief and laid back in bed, but I didn't sleep well that night.

Sunday morning, I fried up some scrambled eggs and brewed some coffee using a little drip-brew we brought back from our Costa Rica trip a few years back, and we discussed the night's event over breakfast. Unbeknownst to our camp neighbors, wolves don't live in the area. We concluded that it was probably a coyote scavenging for camp scraps and agreed to keep a very close eye on our little dogs for the rest of the weekend. Mattis is just large enough to make an inconvenient target, but 10 lb. Phoebe has "coyote snack" written all over her. 

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It was a little colder than the previous day, so I left Ryan to build a fire while I went into town for a few supplies. There's a little grocery located about ten minutes from the campground, so I buzzed over to pick up some wine, a few snacks, and a couple more gallons of water. By the time I returned, the fire was blazing and we settled down for the afternoon. I did some reading in my tent sitting room (perhaps inspired by the previous night's excitement, I read a few selections from my favorite gothic horror book) while Ryan and the dogs napped in the sleeping space. It was a perfect day and exactly what we needed after a busy start to the new year. Dinner was a prepped hobo meal of beef and veggies (super yummy) and we followed it with some classic s'mores and a bottle of wine. As far as meals go, it was hard to beat.


As night fell, so did the temperature. Despite their blankets, the dogs began to shiver and so did we. As the wind picked up, we decided to retreat into the tent for the rest of the evening, where we played a few lively rounds of Uno and devoured a sleeve of Thin Mints. The dogs hunkered down and eventually we called it a night.

I was startled awake at some late hour by a terrible racket nearby. The wind was howling outside, a low sprig of leaves was slapping against the top of our tent, and somewhere just outside of the campground, a pack of coyotes had caught some poor, screaming creature and were cackling up a storm. The dogs grumbled a bit, but I settled them and tried my best to go back to sleep. Just as I was beginning to drift off, I was again awoken by a familiar crunching of footsteps outside the tent. I didn't have to see it to know it was the same creature that had visited us the previous night. I gently woke Ryan and whispered that the thing was back. We lay there for a bit, listening while it circled our tent. As it came around the bed side, Ryan grabbed a flashlight, slowly unzipped the window flap, and (despite my protests) peered outside.

Photo by  David Tostado  on  Unsplash

Photo by David Tostado on Unsplash

I held my breath as he shone the light around, and after a few seconds he sat back with a grunt. I asked what it was and he replied that it was just a dog; just a massive, white dog. He must have startled it, because it disappeared once more into the night. We pondered the incident for a few minutes, then went back to bed. The coyotes continued howling somewhere in the hills. Again, I didn't sleep well.

Monday morning and another breakfast, then we packed up. Checkout time was noon, and we were anxious to be home anyway. We had enjoyed our trip immensely, but there's something really satisfying about arriving home early in the day after a camping trip -- one of the perks of staying local. We wanted enough time to unpack, degrime ourselves and the dogs, and prepare for the rest of the workweek. The office was closed due to the holiday, so I slipped a note under the door notifying them about the mysterious white dog. I wouldn't call myself an overly concerned person in general, but I figured the groundskeepers should know about a large dog lurking around every night, even on the off-chance it was just a harmless stray looking for scraps.


We were home by noon and unpacked quickly, anxious to do laundry and bathe the dogs. They were exhausted after the weekend; it was Mattis' first camping experience and he seemed to actually enjoy it, and Phoebe tolerated the whole ordeal with her typical stoicism. Ryan and I got a much-needed retreat to start out the new year. Overall, I would say it was a successful trip for everyone. Lilac Oaks has made its way onto my list of local favorites, and I can't wait until the next opportunity to use my sweet new tent. As for the hulking white dog... I'm almost certain it was just a lonely stray and not the monster my sleepy imagination made it out to be, and I'm hoping the groundskeepers deal with it gently and responsibly. We went looking for nature and wildlife, and although it wasn't strange or exotic, wildlife we found. That's the beauty of camping -- you just never know.


Top 10 Romantic Glamping Getaways


Some girls expect a gourmet restaurant, diamonds, roses, and a five-star hotel. Hey, there's nothing wrong with glitz and luxury.

But some girls are perfectly content with a campfire grill, a chilly bottle of wine, and a million-star view. If that's you, or if that's your significant other, you should start planning your Valentine's getaway now. Be sure to pack all the essentials, but don't forget to make your romantic night extra special with a few extra frills:

It's nearly impossible to go wrong when picking out a campground. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever your choice of scenery, nothing beats being outdoors with a loved one. For a little inspiration, check out these top 10 romantic glamping getaways from all over the world.

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Finca Bellavista, Costa Rica

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The Birdhouses El Nido, Palawan, Philippines 

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Blue Reef Cottages, Isle of Harris

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Happy Valentine's Day and, as always, happy glamping!

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Ringing in the New Year at Dixon Lake

Hello, glampers... welcome to 2018! 

No doubt about it, 2017 certainly was a doozy and some of us were happy to see it go. And there's nothing better than celebrating the new year with a bit of nature therapy. With its convenient location, stunning view, and excellent recreation activities, Dixon Lake was an easy choice for Glamp-Ed's New Year celebration!

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Dixon Lake is located in Escondido, California, and offers fishing, boating, camping, hiking, picnicking, and hours of rest and relaxation. At $18/night during the off season, it was certainly affordable compared to many other California campgrounds. Dogs are allowed (on leash, of course), and the recreation area offers boats and fishing equipment for rent during the day. 

We were particularly excited to try out our new teepee tent. The Ozark Trail 7-person Teepee Tent is perhaps the most affordable of the teepee tents available, so we were anxious to try it out for ourselves. We also had a variety of new decor for our tent and campsite, so we were all set to party in style and comfort!

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Admittedly, setting up the tent was a bit of a struggle. Unlike most larger tents, it comes with only two legs for support. As one of us balanced it upright, the other had to move around and stake out the sides of the tent to keep it standing. However, once it was up, it was sturdy enough and very cute! The large windows allow for great lighting inside during the day, and help cool you off at night. While the tent could technically sleep seven people, we don't exactly pack light... so this setup could potentially sleep about four people comfortably (with another air mattress). And the height is amazing... camping is an entirely different experience when you don't have to duck to get into your tent!

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Overall, we would give the tent 4 out of 5 stars. Other than the awkward and counter-intuitive setup, it served us well and is super stylish.

Our tent decor was fairly simple but incredibly comfortable. We actually used this opportunity to try out a new car air mattress. Although it's made to fit conveniently into the back of SUVs and minivans, it also works well for camping! All it needs are some soft blankets and comfy throw pillows, and it feels like you're back in bed at home.

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Perhaps my favorite accent in the whole setup was the fur throw. Faux fur is my current aesthetic and I thought this throw was to die for! And is that llama throw pillow not adorable? Sophia even pulled out some of her hand-made macrame to decorate with. We picked up a lot of our decor from the clearance sections at TJ Maxx and Target, but of course specific products vary from location to location. You never know what you're going to find there so keep an open mind! If you like what you see and want this decor, I've collected a few Amazon items below that are either similar or the exact same products.

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Setting up a tent is hard work, so after we finished it was time for lunch. Luckily, we came fully prepared with a melamine dish set and and my favorite set of Keto stainless steel wine glasses. Our first day there was pretty warm; we decided on a refreshing Asian cucumber salad. For this and other delicious, simple camping recipes, check out Glamp-Ed's guide to camping cuisine.

After lunch, we still had a few hours of daylight to kill, so we decided on a short hike with the pups. We had Winston and Shaunna with us, and they're always game for an adventure, so we headed to the peak of the tallest hill within walking range of our campsite. Let me tell you... the view was downright stunning. Many of the campsites at Dixon have great views of either the lake or the surrounding city, but with a little more elevation the vista was truly amazing. One of my favorite things about this campground is how secluded it feels when you are actually only minutes (and I mean literally three minutes) from the bustling city of Escondido. It really is a hidden gem.

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Before we lost the light, we hurried back to the campground and set up all of our lighting equipment. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the most important aspects of glamping is the lighting. Without it, you're likely to stumble around in the dark, knocking things over and wasting all of your hard setup work. To learn how to light your campsite properly, and for other great glamping tips, read our camping-to-glamping guide.

It was a very dark night, so we illuminated the perimeter of our campsite with solar LED stakes to avoid tripping or stumbling off into the wilderness. We also hung plenty of string lights, battery-powered plastic bulbs, and - of course - my trusty Luci lights, which I never camp without. 

We also scattered some LED tealights on the picnic table and inside the tent, set out some citronella candles to ward off any stubborn bugs that somehow survived the bitter California winter, and hung lanterns inside the tent. To add a little ambiance, we plugged a portable solar charger into our LED inflatable pouf.

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After a quick dinner, we huddled around the firepit, popped open a bottle of Cabernet, and settled down for a relaxing night. It did get fairly cold, and unfortunately Dixon doesn't allow for wood fires (just coal) due to extreme fire danger. So after a little star-gazing, we retired to the tent to play some card games.

The next morning called for fresh espresso, a light breakfast, and more hiking - this time around the base of the lake. Here in San Diego, we are incredibly blessed to have temperate weather most of the year, including winter, so it was the perfect day for basking in the sun.

Afterward, we did some light reading back at the site and played with the dogs, who were having an absolute blast listening to the sounds of nature and sniffing out critters (Dixon warns on their website that they are currently suffering from some kind of raccoon infestation, though we saw no proof of that during our stay).

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That night we rang in the new year with some champagne, gourmet camping cuisine, and some of the most beautiful scenery anyone could ask for. Good company certainly doesn't hurt either! Overall, it was an amazing trip and the perfect way to start out the new year. And just because we were outdoors doesn't mean we didn't enjoy all of the glitz and glam of the holiday.

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For a short weekend glamping trip, I think we did alright for ourselves! Considering we are fairly new to the world of glamping, this was an interesting experience for us. It was really an opportunity for us to get creative and let our glamp flag fly, and we had a lot of fun picking out decor and designing our comfy campsite.

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The last day of camping is always the hardest and the saddest. No matter how much time you spend out there, it's never enough. Luckily, the process was made easier with teamwork and a nifty dish-washing station we set up on the picnic table. Washing dishes while camping can be a messy job, but this actually made it a breeze. And instead of a traditional sponge, which collects dirt and bacteria especially on a camping trip, we used an item from our very own Glamp-Ed line of products, our TOKKA silicone sponge -- it's practically made for camping.

Finally, we packed up the truck, loaded the pups, and bid farewell to Dixon Lake. Not forever though -- especially considering the campsite is only minutes from home!

We here at Glamp-Ed are excited to begin a fresh year of new experiences and incredible adventures. We want to thank all of our readers for their continued support and interest, and we can't wait to thrill you with what Glamp-Ed has in store for 2018. Happy New Year and, as always, happy glamping!

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The Most Stunning Winter Camping Spots in the US

Camping is all fun and games until winter rolls around and suddenly there is snow on the ground, everything is cold, and all of your favorite camping spots are closed for the season. And when you do manage to find a beautiful campground that is open for winter, you really have to debate -- is it worth all the effort to go camping in horribly cold weather, and perhaps even snow... or should you just stay home with a hot cup of cocoa and a fresh log in the fireplace?

That's what I love about glamping. In harsh conditions where the average camper's tiny tent and thin sleeping bag would amount to a miserable experience, glampers come fully prepared with blankets, pillows, hand warmers, and all sorts of cozy, cold-weather things! And when you're warm and comfortable, the beauty of a winter campground is difficult to beat. So pack up your trailers, SUVs, and truck beds... these are the most amazing winter camping locations in the US!


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Best Camping Gifts of 2017

Well, the biggest shopping weekend of the year has past, and hopefully you scored some great deals. But you and I both know we're not done yet. There's always room for a little more retail therapy, and lucky for you, I've compiled a comprehensive list of this year's top camping gifts and gadgets. And there are some awesome items here. 

So, join me down the shopping rabbit hole with this list of 2017's coolest gear and unique camping gift ideas for both you and your loved ones.

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Intex Queen Air Bed 

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Haitrail LED Lantern and Fan

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There you have it... all of the best camping gifts on the market this season. I don't know about you, but more than one of those definitely caught my eye. Hopefully you gathered some unique camping gift ideas or at least some inspiration to guide you when buying for your loved ones (or for yourself) this year!

Happy Thanksglamping: Cooking a Traditional Thanksgiving Meal While Camping

With the impending stress of the holiday season creeping up, we could all use one more lengthy nature trip to calm our senses and remind us what we are thankful for. If you are truly lucky, you may even spend the big day out of town, away from the traffic, and next to an open fire pit. But even in the beautiful outdoors, what is Thanksgiving without the excellent company of loved ones and - of course - a splendid feast?

You don't have to sacrifice good food for good scenery (we learned that from our wonderful guest writer, Jessica, in her article about glamping gourmet recipes). Believe it or not, cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner over the open fire at a campsite is not as difficult as you may believe! The key to success is the same as with any large meal (at home or in the woods): prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Plan your meal before you leave; chop, cut, dice, and bag everything neatly before you go so that you will be organized and ready to cook once you are there. With that in mind, you can achieve an Insta-worthy smorgasbord wherever you are!

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The Bird

There are two simple ways to cook your turkey using a fire pit. This article outlines both of them well. The first involves using a Dutch oven or similar cooking pot to roast the turkey on the grill of a fire pit. The second method is good if you have a large enough fire pit, since it involves burying the turkey in the ground luau-style. Both are effective (and delicious) methods -- just remember to always heed the fire safety regulations at your site! 

The Potatoes

Sweet or Russet, potatoes are very easy to cook over a campfire. Use the tinfoil method, which consists of tightly wrapping your potato in foil and leaving it to cook on the grill or directly on the coals for about thirty minutes. For an added flavor boost, cube the potatoes first and toss your favorite herbs and toppings into the foil sachet (pre-cooked bacon, butter, sprigs of parsley, salt and pepper, pre-chopped onions, olive oil, cinnamon, brown sugar, etc. depending on the type of potato). When they emerge, your potatoes will be soft and ready to eat -- or you can easily mash them if you prefer!

The Vegetables

The same tinfoil method can be used to cook your vegetables (green beans, pre-chopped onions, and pre-cooked bacon, or similar dishes). Or, you can choose to fry your vegetables using a hardy, nonstick skillet over the campfire grill. Whatever your method, it's pretty difficult to mess up a delicious veggie side dish!

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The Stuffing

Who could forget the stuffing? On your turkey, in your turkey, on the side... everyone eats it differently but everyone loves it! Yes, you could precook the stuffing and bag it to bring with you. Or, if you're feeling flexible (hey, it's Thanksgiving -- give yourself a break!), just bring a store-bought box of stuffing with you. It's just as yummy and you'll enjoy it even more if you don't have to home-make it yourself!

The Pie

I think you know where this is going.... Unless you're a regular Julia Child, you probably don't make your own pie every year (if you do, then you're a cooking champion!). But for the rest of us, store-bought is just fine. Pick out your favorite pie (mine is pumpkin buried under a pile of whipped cream), pack that sucker up, and bring it with you. 

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And that's it! I told you it wasn't difficult. With the help of a vinyl tablecloth, some festive tableware, and your favorite champagne, this Thanksgiving will be truly memorable. Who could say no to good food, good company, and the stunning backdrop of mother nature? 

For a fun craft and stylish table, try any of these cute DIY centerpieces!


Glamp Friday: This Year’s Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Glamping certainly has its perks: fresh air, peace and quiet, and good views. But let’s face it -- glamping can be expensive, especially when you are just getting started. A shrewd glamper takes advantage of all the sales and steals he or she can find, and that’s why this Black Friday, when most people are waiting in line for a flat screen or stampeding for that really popular toy their child simply must have, you’ll instead be searching high and low for those camping and glamping bargains.

To save you a little time, I have scoured the depths of the internet for 2017’s best outdoor deals: from cookware to bedding, tents to tools, here are this year’s most outstanding holiday deals:


REI is having an extensive 30% sale through November 20.




Cabela's is having 14 Days of Sales, featuring new deals every day. Hopefully some of their yurts will be included!


Amazon, as usual, is having crazy site-wide sales

Dick's Sporting Goods also has some amazing markdowns and free shipping on all orders!


These are the most exciting deals I have discovered so far. Aside from these, many more stores and brands are having holiday sales, such as Yeti, Bass Pro Shop, Patagonia, Coleman, Columbia Outerwear, Eastern Mountain Sports, and more.

I will update periodically as I come across more great deals. Happy shopping!


Stay Chilly, My Friends: A Glamper's Guide to the Best Coolers

There’s no point in going glamping without delectable food and drinks to enjoy during your stay. And the key to fresh dinner ingredients and chilly bottles is… you guessed it, a good cooler.

So what are the key components of a decent ice chest? First of all, it needs to keep things… well, cool. Duh. Second, it should be sturdy enough to survive the wild outdoors (as wild as a yurt can get, at least). Third most important, it should be easy to transport -- it shouldn’t take up too much space in the car or be awkward carry. Fourth, cooler price is a major point. Last, it should be cute -- accessories are a definite plus!

With these factors in mind, I’ll reveal some of my favorite coolers and why I like them so much.


The Coolest

I mean… just look at it. It’s the mac daddy of all coolers -- the big kahuna. It has everything: a built-in blender and USB charger, Bluetooth speakers, an interior lid light, a bottle opener, a tie-down bungee cord, an accessory compartment, and it even comes with a knife, corkscrew, and some plates. The Coolest wins major bonus points for style and practicality. However, all that extra gear makes it bulky to transport and leaves a lot of room for malfunctioning motors and broken parts.

Ice Retention: ➷➷➷

Durability: ➷➷

Transportability: ➷➷

Affordability: ➷➷

Style: ➷➷➷➷


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Yeti Tundra 35

Yetis are famous for being both incredibly well-insulated and durable. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from petite to downright huge, but the Tundra 35 is a good medium size. Bonus: it comes in pale blue and millennial pink (on their website) for color-conscious glampers. Downside: its durability makes it rather heavy -- so carrying it from the car to the tent might be a two-person job.

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Pelican 45-Quart

The Pelican is similar to the Yeti in that it is incredibly tough and does a great job keeping your wine chilly. It also comes in a few different styles; the rolling 45-quart is my favorite because - again - transportability is sacrificed for durability, and the all-terrain wheels really help. This cooler is for the serious glamper/camper: it isn’t the cutest, but it will definitely keep your food fresh, and it’s grizzly-proof. Also cool: you can customize it with a basket that keeps your food cold but dry!

Ice Retention: ➷➷➷➷

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Affordability: ➷➷

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Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme

What this one lacks in good looks, it more than makes up for in price. And although Coleman is not a top-shelf camping brand, you get plenty of bang for your buck with the Xtreme. The wheels make it easy to transport, it’s large enough to fit everyone’s drinks and food, and it stays cold for a fair length of time. Downside: while it’s strong enough for you to sit on, it’s certainly not grizzly-proof.

Ice Retention: ➷➷➷

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Surreal Stump Cooler

This cooler brings some seriously chic style to your glampsite. Just be careful not to lose track of it, or else it might be lost in the woods forever! It's great for placing near the campfire circle so that everyone can top up during ghost stories, and it's small enough to not be constantly underfoot. However, it isn't built to last an eternity, and it offers no wheels or handles with which to transport it. It's more of a secondary cooler to keep full during peak hours, whereas your perishable foods and ice should be kept in a sturdier, colder cooler for the duration of your trip. 

Ice Retention: ➷➷

Durability: ➷➷➷

Transportability: ➷➷➷

Affordability: ➷➷➷

Style: ➷➷➷➷➷

While these are only a handful of coolers on the market (other high-performance brands include Igloo, Grizzly, and Engel), these are my top picks. Each provides different qualities depending on your personal needs. In the past, I have relied on my Coleman Xtreme because it’s affordable and gets the job done. Going into the future, however, the editor’s pick would have to go to the Pelican. No, it’s not gorgeous, but it combines great performance with maximum transportability, and you won’t have to worry about bears or any other cooler-killers. And there’s nothing a little craft paint, stencils, and decals can’t fix.

A Beginner's Guide to Glamping Kitchen Setup

       By guest, Jessica Miller

Cushy pillows, flower vases, oriental lamps and chandeliers, WiFi... let’s be real, girl. These aren’t for your survival, they’re for your enjoyment and comfort. And when properly glamping, your cooking and dining experience should be no different! Depending on the caliber of your glamping set-up, your accommodations may already come equipped with a microwave, mini fridge, and/or ceramic stovetop (this French glampsite near Tolouse thought of everything!). But even without these appliances you can still achieve your own A+ glamping kitchen.

Let’s start with the essentials. A cooler is, and always will be, your best friend. Campers and glampers alike gravitate towards Yeti coolers which are thermodynamically engineered to stay cold for everrrrrr. You can also opt for a portable mini fridge which is good primarily for keeping them brewskies (or if you’re me, cider-skies) cold. Some plug into your car while others are solar powered or battery-operated. Amazon has a variety of options and they’re all stinkin’ adorable.

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When it comes to the actual cooking, you can turn up the 21st century heat with a portable, solar-powered grill or oven such as the GoSun Stove (or its older, yet shorter brother, the GoSun Sport). Long gone are the days of scraping the charred, unevenly-cooked remains of hot dog links off of a grody old frying pan. With a portable camping stove you can easily cook nearly anything you’d normally have at home. Looking at you, Thai basil stir fry.

One thing I used to overlook when packing for camping trips is food prep space and utensils. I have so many flashbacks to me camping in college, pathetically sawing a tomato with a plastic knife on a soggy paper plate in vain because I wasn’t prepared. Don’t. Be. Me. In. College. Bringing a cute little wooden fold-out table like this one is an easy way to add ambiance to your glampsite while providing you the comfort of a decent food prep space. I’m also a big advocate of cutting boards for hassle-free clean-up after each meal.

Do yourself the service of packing these kitchen wares: two sharp cutting knives, a mixing bowl, spatula, salad bowl and tossers, two cooking pots with lids, and a medium-sized no-stick frying pan. This is an expandable starter pack to get things going in your outdoor kitchen. Don’t forget to also pack some tin foil, cling wrap, and tupperware to keep leftovers tidily put away and easy to store.

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Once it’s time to serve the delicious meal you (...or somebody else) prepared, this is where glamping gets serious. Presentation is all part of the experience. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to beautify your dining table out in the wild. Start by laying out a linen tablecloth, which functions as both eye candy and as a sanitary measure if you’re eating off one of the site’s picnic tables. Wood or bamboo dining sets are nature-inspired and the actual best: lightweight, durable (won’t break during the car ride), eco-savvy, stylish. Oh yeah. Compliment your dishware with matching serving bowls/platters, silverware or chopsticks, cloth napkins, and camp-friendly stemware. Glass is potentially harmful for animals and other campers, which is why REI sells these stellar stainless steel and copolyester plastic nesting wine glasses. Don’t you worry, your friends at Glamp-Ed will make sure you can enjoy a glass of wine from anywhere in the world!

Most importantly, let your individuality guide the rest of your glamping cookout arrangement: adorn the table with faerie lights and candles, put on some mood music from your portable speaker, create a centerpiece bowl full of pinecones and natural found objects. When it comes to glamping, the dinner table is a central place to unwind from the day, share stories, and enjoy a beautiful, freshly-prepared meal with your beloved fellow glampers.

Table all set? Click here for some fabulously simple and decadent glamping recipe ideas!