Summer Glamping Upgrades: How to Camp Affordably in Style



Glamping tends to denote a glam expense account, but it doesn’t need to. Generally, these glampsites are more like outdoor AirBnbs—cute, if you have a roomy budget. If not, don’t fret. You can upgrade your camping style with little effort and even less cash out of your pocket by doing it on your own.

Here’s a  handy DIY guide to affordably upgrading your camping routine to glamping status – perfect for gathering your favorite people, pets, and memories.

This is what a stylized campsite looks like. The general, big-ticket camping essentials—such as the tent, shade canopy, cooler, and chairs—require some upfront cost. However, most of these additional items can be found around the home. Also check out super-discount retailers, thrift stores, and garage sales.

To say it’s all about atmosphere—when you’re already in the great outdoors—can sound outright absurd. But a few minor decorations and creature comforts will level-up your camping experience (and may entice your “non-camping” friends or dates to join in on the fun). Why rough it when you raise it up?

Lighting sets the mood.

The right lighting helps to employ your heightened sense of detail when it comes to mood lighting. Consider bringing along your battery-operated decor lighting camping. “Fairy lights” and other string lights come in a wide variety of fun colors and shapes.

They are also soft enough for the inside of the tent.

Solar lights are perfect for outside and come as string-lights or stakes (and they are battery free, yay)!

LED lights, besides being impractically bright, take away from the atmosphere of being outdoors. But if you use normal LED lanterns, try covering them with a thin cloth for color and comfortable light. (Tip: add bug repellent to the cloth). For the bold, gas lanterns cast a beautiful light that is both soft and functional, but they can be expensive and need extra safety precautions.


Ditch the sleeping mat and sleeping bag (unless it has sentimental value). Take your big guest air mattress, battery-powered air pump, and real bedding and pillows.

Use clean bins or giant garbage bags to keep them clean and dry during transport.

Inside flooring game

For those with large tents, keeping a small area inside the tent blanketed makes it homey, especially if shoes are not worn inside the tent. Picnic blankets, tapestries, or large fabric work for soft ground when the corners are anchored (try fun printed duct-tape). For more hearty additions, put down a rug, carpet scraps, or artificial turf. A faux-fur rug, if you have one handy, is a winner when it’s cooler at night.

Keep Cool

A comfortable campsite generally has a shade canopy above the main table when it’s sunny. In hot weather, place it above the tent to sleep in longer. It’s fun to hang lights, streamers, signs, garland, tapestries, or boho fabric on the sides of canopy for some quick decoration and additional shade.

Outside Mats

Plastic mats or rugs under the shade canopy add more gathering space. They also allow you to sit more comfortably on rough or damp ground. Many are made out of recycled plastic fibers and come in bright colors and patterns.

They also look great on a patio when not used for camping and are super easy to clean. Tip: keep plastic mats under the shade canopy—they grow warm in the sun.

Set the Table

A folding table with a table cloth are great for groups, especially if the site does not come with a main table. You could also make side tables from plastic garage storage towers that stack high.

And don’t forget your coffee (or other power beverage) plan.  Something caffeinated in the morning is a no-brainer.  It helps significantly to have that mental boost when the body is adjusting to things it’s not accustomed to. Without proper caffeinating after waking up in the great outdoors, things can go suddenly awry. So treat it like part of the shelter plan. For coffee, a hand drip filter is very easy to use—just pour it over your cup. My fellow coffee snobs might consider bringing a french press.

Just don’t forget the coffee, and whatever accouterments (like creamer or cinnamon) that you most enjoy. Milkadamia coffee creamer doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after you open it, so it’s perfect for a camping weekend.

Extra Upgrades

Bluetooth Speakers. Something loud enough for the campsite but not too loud to overly-annoy your neighbors—unless your DJ-playlist skills are legendary.

Portable bug zapper. For when you’re playing music, because it can be distracting otherwise.

Lounge Seating. Portable (or inflatable) lounge seating are a step up from the traditional cloth camping chair. A hammock is the most excellent of options if there are trees.

A mirror. It’s hard to look good without one.

A portable propane grill or stove makes cooking easier. The best camping chefs cook food in advance and freeze it. For keeping food cool for several days, pack dry ice in the cooler. For a last minute food plan, Mexican ingredients make lots of different different dishes. For a low-cook plan, try pre-made Indian food that comes cooked in shelf-stable packets—add different condiments like curry sauce to spruce it up.

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