Connect with us


Glamping for First-Timers



I’ve never been an outdoorswoman. Though I’m from Texas, spent pivotal teenage years in Kentucky and grew up around hunters and farmers, there’s a difference between spending time outside and living, cooking and sleeping with nature.

Giselle Burgess, a mother of five and a Girl Scout troop leader whom I met while researching a book about a troop that started in a homeless shelter, helped me with my first camping trip in 2017. She loves camping, loves the lingering scent of campfire smoke in her clothes and even prides herself on locating, pinching and plucking ticks. Staying at Camp Kaufmann, the sprawling campground owned by the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, I had the right gear thanks to Giselle, but I slept in a bed and was allowed to shower.

I’m not above sleeping outside, and because of my reporting, I never forget that thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness call the city’s streets home. But camping in wooded areas, in a tent? I was scared. All I could imagine was a bear tearing into my tent because a graham cracker crumb from a s’more had followed me.

What’s scarier, more dangerous and more likely than bears this year? The coronavirus.

The thought of the virus creeping through the H.V.A.C. systems of hotels and restaurants has paralyzed me. I refuse to even enter grocery stores, opting instead for deliveries, open-air farmers’ markets and a co-op in my neighborhood that only allows one customer at a time every 15 minutes. And while cheap flights keep calling my name, enticing me to travel to a faraway locale, I would spend the entire time worried about other passengers.

All my fears meant the only vacation possible this summer would have to involve the outdoors and camping. But stretching a blue tarp between trees the way Giselle expertly shields a campsite from rain was not happening. First, everyone else in the United States seems to be camping. The best equipment was sold out or appeared to be back-ordered for months. So I opted for a little more comfort and plunged into the no-muss, no-fuss world of glamping.

My partner and I planned three glamping trips: to Maine, the Finger Lakes and the Hudson Valley. All were within driving distance of my Manhattan apartment and all the sites had new virus-related health and safety measures in place. Altogether, we spent nine nights sleeping under the stars. Sort of.

While the options for “glamorous camping” have expanded at a rapid pace in recent years, glamping can mean staying in anything from a cabin or a tiny house or a yurt. The only consistency we discovered is that some type of shelter has been pitched for you. We encountered tents. At Sandy Pines campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, it was a tented hotel room with a chandelier made of oyster shells, complete with air conditioning and a mini-fridge. At Firelight Camps in Ithaca, N.Y., the tent had fans and a private balcony. (Out of my three destinations, Firelight had the most comfortable bed, though all of the beds were better than a sleeping bag on the ground.)

At Gatherwild Ranch in Germantown, N.Y., we had a small, round tent that was chic, with premium sheets and beautiful rugs. The view was scenic as the single tent sat in the middle of an old apple orchard. It had no electricity, forcing me to rely on a solar-powered lantern and solar twinkle lights that made it feel like we were sleeping with the stars inside the tent.

As for camping gear, in Maine I swapped out my poncho and backpack for a beach umbrella and bag. But in all three places I always carried bug spray and the Go-Sun solar panel, to power my cellphone and computer. We also took a projector to the Finger Lakes that allowed us to turn a wall inside the tent into a movie screen for late-night horror movies. (That wasn’t so easy in the Hudson Valley, because the glamping site requires guests to unplug by cutting off Wi-Fi.)

I saw complaints online that the grounds at Firelight did not feel remote enough, but a rabbit greeted me when we arrived and on my last day, no fewer than 10 rabbits had surrounded the perimeter of our tent. It would have been worrisome had they not all had white cottontails.

Since glamping can mean remote or semi-remote, I packed food and snacks. Though we planned to eat out occasionally, I also wanted to grill and brought chicken, ribs and sausages, which I marinated and kept in a small cooler.

In Maine, friends told me to be prepared to eat lots of lobster. Kennebunkport also boasts some great restaurants with outdoor seating, like Earth at Hidden Pond and Pearl Kennebunk. I also picked up haddock to grill at Free Range Fish & Lobster, and an assortment of local cheeses at The Cheese Shop of Portland. The food from home included pizza dough, which we cooked on a small grill, in a flat cast-iron pan that we placed atop the firepit. It made for great, wood-fired pizza.

At Firelight, before the pandemic, a breakfast buffet would have been offered to guests. Now we were offered a choice of continental breakfast in a personal cooler each morning. I chose a boiled egg, berries, granola and yogurt.

Another big concern for me, even before the virus, was bathroom facilities. The campgrounds in Ithaca and Kennebunkport had shared bathrooms with running water, so I had to have faith that other campers were wearing their masks as directed by staffers and posted signs. While Sandy Pines had small, all-in-one bathrooms with sinks, toilets and showers, Firelight had separate showers and a shared area with toilets and sinks. Every other sink at Firelight was covered in red tape that formed X’s to encourage social distancing. There were signs telling guests to wear masks, but they weren’t always followed. A father showed up with his young daughter who had on a mask. He did not — though he was telling her how to best wash her hands, singing the alphabet song (a little too fast for my taste).

But at Gatherwild, I had my very own bathroom a short walk away: an outhouse with a compost toilet. A chalkboard sign read, “Hi Potty Friends, All paper products go INTO the potty. Generous scoop of wood chips when done. Seat down & Thanks!” I shared an outdoor shower with two other tents. Well-placed bushes made me feel more comfortable, but I could see Pickles and Mama Goaty Sophia, the resident goats, staring at me.

I’m not the only one who decided to let go of things we think we can’t live without, like privacy and indoor plumbing, to get a change of scenery.

Gatherwild’s seven tents and tiny houses were at 99 percent capacity, Laura Sink, the owner, told me as we sat in a barn, six feet apart, which also housed a vintage store. (I bought four lovely scarves there and picked flowers from an adjacent garden before I left.)

“This year it’s off the charts,” said Robert Frisch, the owner of Firelight and its 19 safari tents. “We’re full every night. Every tent.”

At Firelight, the guests looked very different from the campground’s Instagram page, which shows millennial couples kissing in front of their stylish tents and beneath waterfalls. During my stay, babies cried and children screeched in delight or in disappointment. The camp had become more about the fam’ than the ‘gram. But I welcomed the chatter of children who were obviously thirsting for fresh air. They touched the leaves of trees and pushed each other in a swing. They climbed into hammocks. They played red light, green light in an area that once offered cornhole — gone now to encourage social distancing and discourage group play.

Firelight used to be much more adult, and much more communal, with people gathering each night around a single firepit. Mandated social distancing required the camp to increase the number of firepits: When I arrived in August, there were 10, and some nights I could see the disappointment in the faces of families when they failed to score a firepit. The camp also has grills that took some timing and maneuvering to use.

At Gatherwild, Ms. Sink will take orders for groceries and deliver them to your tent, where a large cooler can keep them from spoiling.

The camp had to invest in these coolers, as well as picnic tables, umbrellas and firepits for every tent, yurt and tiny house at the camp. Because of increased demand and the necessary deep cleaning of tents, pricing looks very different than in the past. I booked Gatherwild for $130 a night, but Ms. Sink said she is now charging no less than $175 a night and guests must book two nights. At Sandy Pines, cleanings of the tents and shared areas were also increased. Rules, such as no-touch check-in and check-out, and capacity restrictions at the pool and general store, were implemented to adhere to social distancing.

From my adventures this summer, I must admit that I’d prefer a flushing toilet, a hot shower, Wi-Fi and a refrigerator. So maybe a cabin and a cottage with lots of windows would be my best bet.

But if I go glamping again, I would pack less. I would leave behind those just-in-case-I-go-to-a-nice-restaurant dresses and pack another sweatsuit. There’s a lot of sitting around at camp once night falls, and it gets cold. You want to stay up to enjoy the fire and night sky.

Relaxing in my own space without worrying whether I was six feet away from someone, however, was rejuvenating. At Sandy Pines, I went to a beach and fell asleep on a blanket one afternoon. At Firelight, I took a walk around the property and then followed a trail into nearby Buttermilk Falls State Park. I rode one of the bikes that Gatherwild has available to meander around its old apple orchard. And those starry nights with no face mask in sight were worth a cold shower in front of some goats.

By: Nikita Stewart
Title: Glamping for First-Timers
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 03 Sep 2020 13:59:14 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Canopy Tent Frame Buying Guide




There are very few accessories you can invest in that help you protect your plans involving the great outdoors more than a canopy tent. Whether you use it when you go on holiday and want to extend the available floor space you have in your RV or take it with you to the beach or another place for the day and then the bad weather sets in, you can use a canopy tent to avoid having to pack up and head home or head inside your RV.

There are a variety of canopy tents out there, though, and the choice may seem a little overwhelming. To help you, therefore, we have put together this buying guide.

4 Things to Consider When Buying a Canopy Tent Frame

Choice of Canopy Types and Variations

Before you even start looking canopy reviews with the intent of buying, you need to think first about the type of canopy tent that would be best for your applications and needs. You can do this by thinking about the different uses you will get out of it and finding the model that best matches up with those uses.


One consideration you need to make following on from the above is whether you should get a portable model or not. There are many situations, for instance, in which you won’t want to spend too much time messing around with transportation and the erection of a canopy. For those situations, a portable option is very desirable. They are also much easier to put up, even if you do not have someone to help you.

Heavy Duty and Robust

Although for most of the time you will probably prefer to invest in a canopy tent frame that is lightweight and easy to manage, there will be other times when having something more substantial and robust at your disposal is necessary. What if, for instance, while you are out in the great outdoors on an RV holiday and sitting under the canopy when their strong winds forecast. If your canopy is not particularly robust, your shelter would be at risk of being damaged or even blown completely away.

Therefore, when choosing the best canopy tent, you need to think about the weather conditions of the places you will be using it and whether it will be beneficial to buy a tougher model.

Another reason why you should consider a heavy-duty is if you intend to use your canopy over a long period, rather than just setting it up for a day or even just an afternoon. For it to last through the constant use, the canopy tent you choose needs to be very sturdy and resistant to wear and tear.


We would never suggest that you use cost as the driving focus of your buying decision. That being said, we all have a budget, and it would be ridiculous to not take that budget into consideration at all. Besides, at either end of the canopy price range, you will find that the two extremes of the cheapest and the most expensive don’t always mean you are going to get a good value product.

For example, take the cheapest canopy tent you can buy. It may seem like you are going to save a decent amount of money on it and that is enough to make anyone happy, especially when times are tough as they are now for lots of us. However, does the quality and standard of build really hold up given its price tag? Products aren’t given an ultra-cheap price tag for nothing.

Likewise, the most expensive may not present good value for money either. Imagine spending a lot of money on a canopy you hardly use.

The post Canopy Tent Frame Buying Guide appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Canopy Tent Frame Buying Guide
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2020 16:50:32 +0000

Continue Reading


How to Prepare a Campervan Trip in New Zealand




Are you considering traveling around New Zealand in a campervan? Or do you want to list your campervan for sale? We’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t take so long debating about it. Traveling to New Zealand is one of the best trips anyone can ever have in their lifetime. And the best way to see the country is through traveling in a campervan.

Yes, preparing for your campervan trip can feel a little overwhelming, and you may be anxious about all the things you need to get in order. But, a little research might help you calm down the nerves and get your thoughts in line with your travels.

Our guide for preparing for a campervan trip to New Zealand has all the essential information that you need to know about making your trip a success. Take a look.

8 Tips to Prepare a Campervan Trip in New Zealand

  1. Book Your Campervan Early

Campervans are a smart way to get around New Zealand. Therefore, they can get booked out very fast, especially if you’re traveling during the peak season. The trick is to know your seasons and book your campervan early.

For instance, NZ’s busiest tourist season is during the summer months that run from December to February. Also, there are different sizes of campervans available, so you should choose one depending on the number of people in your troupe. Ensure the campervan you rent comes with everything you need including cookware and towels.

  1. Get An Offline Map

For convenience, ensure that your campervan has WiFi. However, there are certain areas in NZ where connectivity may be an issue. Even though NZ has some very well-sign-posted routes, it doesn’t hurt getting some offline maps ready just in case you encounter any problems.

Hence, download your map fast via Google and pull it out any time you get to places such as Milford Sound or Southland, where connectivity is problematic. The map is also useful if you need to reach a particular spot for your trip.

  1. Download Campermate

Make sure that you download this app to your phone before you start your travels through New Zealand. The app helps provide you with any information you may need while you explore NZ.

For instance, it will help you get information about grocery stores near you, the best camping spots, freedom camping spots, and even fuel stations and water pumps. The app will also help you plan your trip and routes early, and it can work while you’re offline. It’s a free app, so you don’t have to worry about making extra purchases.

  1. Consider Some Costs

While traveling to New Zealand, you should be aware of the costs that you might incur. Here are some of them:

  • Van Insurance:When it comes to van insurance, you want to go for the highest plan because it will give you peace of mind if you encounter any accidents on the road.
  • Camping Site Costs: Even though you may have access to amenities such as freedom camping, you may need to plug in your campervan to access electricity. You will pay for this maybe every 3-4 days, depending on your usage, so ensure you plan for these costs early enough.
  1. Plan Your Itinerary

If you’re planning to travel around New Zealand, you should have a plan for it. Ensure you have a good idea of where you’re going. This will allow you to save a lot of time on the road and enjoy the scenic views without rushing.

Remember, you might want to stop and take pictures along the way or sample some local cuisine. Having an itinerary will ensure that you do all these things with no rush.

  1. Check What’s in Your Van

Your van should come with most of the extras that you need for your trip. These include camping chairs, bed linen, an outdoor table, towels, and cooking pots. Besides, if you’d like to sell your campervan, ensuring that it has all these extras onboard will fetch you a quick customer.

  1. Consider These Driving Tips

Here are a few things to remember while driving a campervan in New Zealand:

– Lock your fridge and cupboard door. If you don’t, your pots, pans, and cutlery may fly off as you maneuver through twists and turns.

– Ensure you aren’t plugged into a power source before you drive away.

– Get enough petrol for your trip. If you’re on your way to discover secluded areas, make sure you have a full tank because there may not be petrol stations anywhere near for a while.

  1. Have Emergency Cash

Always have an emergency fund ready. Your emergency cash should have enough change so you can pay for stuff quickly when needed. For instance, some camp sites will require you to pay a certain amount in cash at designated spots. You don’t want to risk the fine for not paying up.


Traveling on a campervan to New Zealand is an exciting way of sightseeing around the country. You can enjoy the freedom that comes with camping and lingering in destinations to ensure that you enjoy your trip. However, excellent preparation is necessary if you want to avoid surprises and make the most of your trip.

The post How to Prepare a Campervan Trip in New Zealand appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: How to Prepare a Campervan Trip in New Zealand
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2020 14:44:20 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Continue Reading


House Hunting in Chile: A Bright, Modern Villa in the Andes for $1.3 Million




This modern six-bedroom house is on a residential street in Lo Barnechea, an upscale commune on the outskirts of the Santiago metropolitan region, in central Chile.

The 3,445-square-foot concrete house was built in 2005 on a terraced quarter-acre lot, with floor-to-ceiling windows designed to maximize views of the Andes mountain range from many of the rooms, as well as from the spacious patio and two-level garden.

The front entry hall leads to a door that opens to the patio and garden. An office with access to the garden is on the right, and the living room, dining room and kitchen are on the left. The living room, with Brazilian hardwood floors, is separated from the adjoining dining room by a few steps and a low stone wall with a fireplace. Both rooms look out to the garden, the L-shaped pool and the mountains beyond through floor-to-ceiling windows, as does the office. A half bath for guests is near the entrance.

The spacious kitchen — which opens onto a courtyard leading to the home’s three parking spaces, as well as to the entrance hall and a bright, airy passage to the dining room — has marble counters, a center island and an adjacent room for laundry and storage. Beyond the laundry room are two staff bedrooms and a staff bathroom.

An open wood staircase near the entrance ascends to the second floor, which has four bedrooms, each with mountain views. The main bedroom suite has a walk-in closet and doors to a terrace overlooking the garden. The other three bedrooms share two bathrooms.

The house has a security system and radiant heating. Stepping down from the covered rear patio, the landscaped garden has a flat lawn, and the pool occupies the property’s third and lowest tier.

Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city, with about 6.7 million residents, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range. The Lo Barnechea commune, in the northeast corner of the city, sits at the feet of the Andes and offers skiing, horseback riding, and hiking at Cerro del Medio Park. Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is about 25 miles west.

Chile’s residential real estate market has seen years of steady growth stall recently, first with a wave of protests over inequality that turned violent in late 2019, then with the coronavirus pandemic.

Yuval Ben Haym, the regional director of RE/MAX Chile, said Chile is now in the midst of a buyer’s market. Citing RE/MAX data, he estimated that prices across Santiago have fallen about of 3 to 4 percent since early 2019, though he noted that a government stimulus allowing buyers to tap pensions for real estate purchases has helped stabilize the market.

Developers of new homes are lowering prices to compete for buyers as a result of the pandemic, which halted construction for months, he said: “Developers need speed of sales to be profitable as they have high-interest loans.”

A recent report by the research division of, an online marketplace, found that in the second quarter of 2020, there were 46 percent fewer houses and 35 percent fewer apartments for sale across Chile (where the market is heavily weighted by the greater Santiago area), compared with the same period in 2019. Demand also dropped from the first quarter of the year: 29 percent for houses and 35 percent for apartments, compared to the first quarter of this year.

Another report on the second quarter of 2020 by Portalinmobiliario, a Chilean real estate portal, found similar reductions in supply across Santiago, but also showed a slight uptick in prices, with apartments up over 4 percent and houses up around 3 percent. The average price for two-bedroom apartments across the region in the second quarter were highest in the commune of Vitacura (a neighbor to Lo Barnechea), at 10,762 UF ($393,800), and lowest in Puente Alto, in Santiago’s southeast corner, at 1,270 UF ($46,500).

(Chile uses the Chilean peso, but the real estate market uses the UF, “an indexed type of noncirculating currency which adjusts daily and automatically for inflation so that value remains constant,” said Macarena Laso Aguirre, a partner at the Santiago law firm Morales & Besa, in an email.)

Mr. Ben Haym said the pandemic has shaken up the market, though he expects an imminent course correction. “If they can, people are waiting to see how things turn out before they buy, with this level of demand reduced the prices reduced too,” he said. “I’m sure the next couple of months are going to be compensating for the reduction that we saw in the last couple of months because of the coronavirus.”

(As of Sept. 29, Chile had reported 461,300 cases of Covid-19 — a much higher rate per capita than neighboring Bolivia and Argentina, and higher even than Brazil’s — and 12,725 deaths, according to The New York Times’s coronavirus map.)

Santiago’s high-end market has been stable for decades, said Luis Novoa, the CEO of Chile Sotheby’s International Realty. He estimated the average asking price among properties with his agency is about $800,000, or $330 a square foot.

The social unrest that erupted last fall initially led to an increase in supply of high-end properties, as affluent homeowners decided to sell vacation homes, but that trend has slowed, Mr. Novoa said. Now buyers are awaiting the results of a coming national referendum in October. Investors, though, have started to jump on properties with price cuts, and some are buying sight unseen. These conditions are also emboldening high-end buyers to offer well below asking price.

Across Chile, luxury prices range between $750,000 for a family villa in Santiago to $20 million for select properties in Patagonia, said Martin Rivera Saez, the director of Alto Andes, a luxury agency based in Santiago. But there has been a shift in what is deemed to be luxury, he added. In the past, buyers wanted “large mansions with luxurious finishes, located in areas with privileged views.” A few years ago, the “concept began to change,” and buyers began to seek “less ostentatious” apartments that are easier to maintain.

Because land for new developments is scarce, “we have seen a vertical densification,” with large single-family properties being replaced by high-end condominiums with seven to 10 dwellings, Mr. Novoa said. Meanwhile, areas “with large spaces and better quality of life” are increasingly in demand with the upper middle class.

For example, Mr. Rivera said the pandemic has accelerated interest in the country’s southern region, with his firm seeing a 40 percent spike in transactions there between March and September, compared to the same period last year.

About 95 percent of buyers in Santiago, as in Chile in general, are Chilean, Mr. Rivera said. Foreigners who move to Santiago are typically relocating with jobs in the mining, forestry, agriculture or fishing sectors, and they tend to come from China, Spain, Italy, the U.S., Australia and Britain.

Mr. Novoa said that the exchange rate makes it a good time for foreigners paying in dollars to buy in Chile. “However," he said, “we have not seen changes in the flow of foreign buyers.”

Buyers in the south include Chinese investors and Chilean entrepreneurs or start-up employees who are buying primary residences, Mr. Rivera said, many searching for good schools and “a better quality of life.” The growth of e-commerce and remote work has also fueled this movement away from Santiago.

Most foreigners can purchase real estate in Chile without restriction, although citizens of neighboring countries are prohibited from buying in areas near international borders, said Ms. Laso, the partner at Morales & Besa. Transactions are handled by notaries. Attorneys’ fees vary based on the transaction’s complexity. For a straightforward title review and purchase deed draft, the fee should not exceed 1 to 3 percent of the purchase price.

Prices and loans are set in UF but paid in pesos according to the UF rate on the date of payment. “This means that, effectively, the inflation risk is passed to the buyer/debtor of a property,” Ms. Laso wrote.

  • Visiting Chile:

  • Santiago tourism:

  • Chile government:

Spanish; Chilean peso (1 CLP = $0.0013)

Closing costs when a home is bought with a mortgage are between 0.7 and 1.2 percent of the purchase price, not including the commission and attorney fees, Ms. Laso said. Costs are lower if a purchase is paid in cash.

Commission, split between the buyer and seller, is typically 4 percent of the purchase price, and there is a 19 percent value-added tax levied on that commission.

“If no realtor is involved, which is fairly common, no commission is paid,” Ms. Laso wrote.

María Angélica Errázuriz Gubbins, Chile Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-56-2-3224-4491;

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

By: Roxana Popescu
Title: House Hunting in Chile: A Bright, Modern Villa in the Andes for $1.3 Million
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2020 13:30:24 +0000

Continue Reading