Call us crazy, but we actually enjoy traditional camping activities such as gathering firewood, pitching a tent, and peeing in the woods. Many campers, however, seem to feel differently. How else can you explain the “glamping” phenomenon?
Glamping, or “glamorous camping,” combines the pleasantries of home with the thrill of the outdoors. Glampers have no need for chores such as cooking over a campfire, pitching tents, or digging a latrine—instead, they bring luxuries like furnished living spaces, heat, and bathrooms to the wilderness.
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Tents aren’t shunned in the glamping world; however, glampers still don’t need to struggle with anything, as the tents are pre-assembled upon arrival. Similarly, glampers forgo sleeping bags in exchange for comfortable mattresses.
While a luxurious tent certainly has its perks, we figured that if we were going for the steak that is glamping, then we’d choose the best available cut. For us, that proverbial filet mignon was an Airstream trailer.
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First built in 1929 by Wally Byam, the Airstream was by no means the world’s first recreational vehicle—people have been driving into the wild for almost as long as there have been cars. Nevertheless, Airstream was an industry pioneer, and the arrival of the aluminum-bodied Airstream Clipper in 1936 helped Byam’s trailers become synonymous with recreational-vehicle camping.
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We found a handful of glamping facilities, or “glampgrounds,” in California, Colorado, North Carolina, and Oregon—as well as farther away, in Greece and Spain, for instance—that offer individuals the opportunity to glamp in an Airstream. Despite these options, Airstream is officially licensed only with AutoCamp, a glamping outfit with locations in Santa Barbara and Guerneville, California. These photos are from our stay at the latter location, which is named for a nearby river.
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Cast among Northern California’s towering redwoods, AutoCamp’s Russian River location is made up of 24 Airstream campers and 10 luxury tents. Pricing depends on the time of year and day of the week. In our case, we paid $222 for a single night’s stay after all associated fees were factored in. For what it’s worth, you can save money by opting for one of the site’s available tents, but be aware that by doing so, you’ll be sacrificing your own private bathroom.
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Measuring 31 feet long by 9 feet wide, the trailers at Russian River offer 250 square feet of living space and are custom built by Airstream for AutoCamp. These campers’ size and accommodations closely mirror the current Airstream Classic, a model that starts at $135,600 if you want to tow your own around the country. You could fit a lot of $222-per-night stays into a $135,600 outlay.
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The interiors of AutoCamp’s Airstreams put short-term comforts ahead of long-term functionality, as a cushy couch (that can be folded into a bed) subs for a typical dinette table. Meanwhile, items like a full-size fridge and a stove are nonexistent. Despite this, the camper’s mini-fridge and large counter space proved acceptable for our night of meal making.
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What the AutoCamp Russian River Airstreams lack in kitchen appliances, they make up for in bathroom utility. This is no wet bath but an actual bathroom with a large shower and a standard-size toilet.
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Hygiene can be a real problem when camping. Thankfully, our AutoCamp Airstream’s shower allowed us to fall asleep feeling fresh and clean after a long day of hiking through nearby Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
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