I feel like most people would describe me as go-with-the-flow. Most of the time, my texts in a group chat about plans sound like “whatever works for everyone!” and “sounds good to me!”. This isn’t because I don’t care about whatever dinner or trip we’re brainstorming, rather it’s because I just kind of enjoy being along for the ride. Fun to me is just everyone else having fun! (It should be noted that therapists have also told me that I’m extremely codependent, but that’s for another time.)
This, along with a relocated friend, is how I wound up camping in the fields of Tennessee for an
eternity long weekend. This is also how I learned that music festivals, like tank tops and Game of Thrones, just aren’t for me. Both because of interests and my body type.
It all started in a harmless fashion, someone sending a link to tickets in a group chat saying “omggg let’s go!”. Usually, when things like this happens, what follows is just a symphony of “oh for sure!”’s until no one ever addresses it again. Easy. Except this time, there was an added element: I had a friend who recently moved to Tennessee (a state I only sort of knew existed beforehand), and the ticket link was for Bonnaroo—a music festival in *survey says* Tennessee. This upped the ante, so we all decided to pool our funds together and buy wristbands and camping passes for three days.
I obviously agreed to go on this adventure with friends, because I always love spending weekends with friends! The dots I forgot to connect, though, were that how I usually love spending those weekends are sitting in a chair in an air-conditioned space with cell reception and a glass of Pinot Noir. Cut to me sitting in between a Walmart bag of tent supplies and an almost equally-sized bag of Doritos. Baby, let the games begin?
I don’t know why it didn’t click to me that when you’re camping, it’s actually camping. Despite being told “we’ll be sleeping in a tent,” I feel like my mind just equated a tent to an RV, JoJo style.
There’s a lot that people don’t tell you about music festivals when they talk about music festivals. I’ve heard about how seeing DJ Panda Bear or whoever on molly was “literally life changing” 800 times, but I’ve never ONCE been told about hammering a tent pole into the ground at 7am with a handle of Svedka because you don’t have a hammer. Once your tent is set up as much as a tent can get set up by the hands of five twenty-somethings from the Tri-State area, you unpack your things and… sit waiting for music to start. Okay, I can get down with chugging PBR and waiting for Chance the Rapper. I think I’m back on the bandwagon… until I see the map of where the music actually is.
Basically, getting from your campgrounds to where the festival actually is can only be described as the journey you would take on the Oregon Trail. Except instead of contracting Cholera, you just run the risk of ruining every girl named Lindsay’s Instagram photo. After trekking, we made it in to the festival grounds and I immediately was confused: was this a festival about music or a festival of people who love lines? Cause that’s almost exclusively what I saw.
The crowds of people didn’t seem to mind waiting 25 minutes for vegan hot dogs in the heat, but I’m someone who is always a little sweaty and has minimal patience when it comes to food. I think my main issue was that I lack the *chill* factor that makes music festivals enjoyable for everyone else. I don’t want to smoke in a circle on the dirt, I want to have a dirty martini. Is that too much to ask, outdoors? Speaking of the outdoors, I think the moment I realized that this life wasn’t the life for me was when I filled a jug of water with a hose to pour on myself as “a shower.” Very different from my Sunday ritual of taking a bath with a piece of eucalyptus hanging from the faucet.
Despite having my basic rights stripped away from me (air conditioning), I do have to admit that it was a pretty amazing experience to be away from cell service, responsibilities, and the realities of the world for a few days and have nothing to worry about besides being able to get the best spot to cry along to Lorde songs live. After the weekend, I realized two things: not everything is for me and to never insult people who use the phrase “glamping” again, because I think they’re now my family.
While I quickly realized music festivals weren’t for me, I’m glad I went to test the waters—and water pressure of the hose I used as a shower. It was a fun experience that did make me feel instantly younger—until I woke up hungover in 98 degree heat from four beers and very much felt my age. All that said, will happily take any free VIP tickets from anyone to anything!
Images: @hannynaibaho / Unsplash; Giphy
Blame the millennials for making camping glamorous (you can thank us after you actually get a good night’s sleep in the woods). It’s become so mainstream that “glamping” now has its own space in the dictionary. Glamping is for the people who call themselves outdoorsy but are too high-maintenance to pee in the woods. When you go glamping, you’re not racing to pitch a tent by yourself before night falls and sleeping in sleeping bags on the dirt ground, but you do still get to embrace the elements (or at least, you can claim you did on Instagram). You get all the comforts of being at home, like sleeping on an actual bed, and sometimes a bathroom, electricity, and hardwood floors, but you can still technically say you slept in a tent (or similar structure that lacks walls).
I traveled across the pond to Fforest, where I went glamping for a few nights in Wales to escape reality for a minute and be one with nature. I was set up one of their half domes that kind of look like the tents set up at Fyre Festival, only much, much nicer. It had a solid wood floor, wood-burning stove, and even an onsen hot bath. While it does make for the perfect photo, there’s more than meets the eye. This is what it’s like to actually go glamping, most of which you won’t find on social media.
There’s No Cell Service, Which You’ll Learn To Love
And as you can imagine, there’s no Wifi either. Answering emails or stalking your ex on social media aren’t in the cards on this trip. Just you and Mother Nature. And honestly, it’s for the better. When you’re trying to escape your everyday, your phone is a huge part of that (don’t lie). When you fully unplug mentally and physically, then you can really embrace what’s right in front of you.
It’s Good To Know Basic Camping Skills
Although accommodations are much fancier than regular camping, basic survival skills still come into play, like building a fire. Pro tip: peeling the bark off the logs is a great way to get that initial flame… so I wouldn’t advise you to get your nails done before your trip. Ripping up newspaper works too if you’re out of bark. You’ll know when you need to remake the fire when you wake up freezing in the middle of the night.
It’s Not As Glamorous As Instagram Makes It Out To Be
It’s not a 5-star hotel experience, even though it may look like it, but the thing is, it’s not meant to be. It’s still camping, don’t forget that. Instagram sometimes can be misleading because all it shows are the luxury shots, and not muddy shoes, soaked clothes, or little creatures that you might find. But that’s all part of the experience. While I’m not going Amish any time soon, going glamping taught me that I can survive with less and that I’m not as materialistic as I thought I was.
Be One With Nature And Namaste, Y’all
Glamping allows you to really unplug and experience this entirely new environment. On the campsite I got to actually get to know other glampers because no one had their phone as a giant wall of a distraction. I did activities organized by Adventure Tours UK that I wouldn’t think of doing at home, like foraging for wild leaves and fruit in serene Wales, with which we made our own herbal tea. Yeah, I’m basically Bear Grylls. You can’t rely on Google Maps out there, but instead you actually use a paper map (an ancient artifact people used to use as a navigation tool back in the day) and your brain instead of having a voice instructing you on exactly which steps to take.
It Gets F*cking Cold
It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in Wales or a desert, it gets cold at night, so be prepared. Making a fire is essential, but also water bottles that you can fill with hot water to warm your bed are a lifesaver. At one point in the night I put my heaviest fleece on because I was so cold and still went, half asleep, to rebuild the fire. Bring layers and even hand warmers to stay warm.
I Know It’s Corny, But Don’t Forget To Look Up
Away from the big city, the stars are unbelievable. Your iPhone can’t capture the magic, so don’t even try—just enjoy it, IRL. I’m not a scientist, but the skies are so clear you can see the big dipper and other constellations without a telescope. For people who don’t live in a city, that might be every night for you, but if you live in New York or another big city, you probably haven’t seen an actual star since 2012. From my half dome in Wales, though, I could look up at the stars from my bed, with the fire burning, a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, and I felt like that was all I needed in this simple life.
As fancy as glamping can be, at the end of the day it’s still camping. It’s funny sometimes that as advanced as we are as a society and as plugged into our social media as we are, we crave the urge to go into the middle of the woods, disconnect, and leave it all behind. Because sometimes nothing beats Mother Nature, except for like, being in Mother Nature without actually being all the way in it.
Images: Lucija Ros / Unsplash; fforest, finn / Instagram