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From pods to treehouses, glamping is all the rage. Here’s how to book a glam European camping trip

Get back to nature with a camping - or glamping - trip
Get back to nature with a camping - or glamping - trip Copyright Lucija Ros via Unsplash
Copyright Lucija Ros via Unsplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Want to make the most of the great outdoors on your summer holidays but don’t know where to start?

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Many of us are dreaming of summer getaways and an increasing number are hoping to avoid package holidays and formulaic beach trips, instead getting back to nature.

In a progressively more hectic world, travellers are more frequently choosing to plump for camping trips over fancy hotels and resorts.

Dan Yates has seen that change for himself.

He’s the founder of Pitchup.com, a leading outdoor accommodation search and booking platform for campsites across the UK, Europe and beyond.

With locations across 69 countries, the UK-based business was founded in 2009 and, in the last 15 years, has gone from strength to strength. It handled 850,000 bookings last year.

Dan clearly knows a thing or two about how to book the very best camping and glamping experiences. Here’s what he’s learned about the booking process - and what to do if the weather isn’t on your side.

Delny glamping in the Scottish Highlands offers unusual whisky barrel-shaped spaces
Delny glamping in the Scottish Highlands offers unusual whisky barrel-shaped spacesPitchUp

How did Pitchup come about?

“I was brought up in a holiday park in Devon [southwest England], living above the clubhouse, so it was probably inevitable I wouldn’t stray far,” Dan tells Euronews Travel.

While at university, he would skip lectures and work with local web designers to create a site for the business while the internet began to take off in the late 1990s.

By 2002, that company was achieving number-one rankings on Google UK and received half of all bookings online.

“After that business was sold, I kept wondering why holiday parks and campsites, the biggest type of domestic holiday accommodation by night, were still so neglected online,” Dan says.

“High-profile online travel agents targeting all the other categories of accommodation were growing fast: the sector was losing out as customers moved online to find their holidays.”

After working at lastminute.com in 2008, Dan realised the market for online booking was about to go sky high and, 12 months later, he founded Pitchup.com.

Dan Yates is the founder of PitchUp and knows a thing or two about the world of glamping
Dan Yates is the founder of PitchUp and knows a thing or two about the world of glampingPitchUp

What can you book through Pitchup - and is it accessible to everyone?

Today, Pitchup.com hosts around 6,000 individual websites offering camping pitches and glamping options like shepherds huts, yurts, cabins, lodges and static caravans.

“You can book a break in minutes: just add your location, dates, party size and preferred accommodation type and click search,” Dan explains, “you can then move around the map, browse available sites, review listings and book your favourite.”

When asked if the website is usable by those less computer-literate than average, Dan assured Euronews Travel that is the case and offline customer service support is available.

With an international audience, most bookings come from the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

Pencarnan is a seafront camping site on a working farm in Wales
Pencarnan is a seafront camping site on a working farm in WalesPitchUp

The biggest growths though have been from Swedish travellers, who are booking 190 per cent more than in previous years, followed by holidaymakers from Switzerland, Hungary, Poland and Ireland.

85 per cent of bookings are currently made for domestic trips, although non-domestic bookings are currently seeing the biggest growth - up some 40 per cent so far this year, compared to 2023.

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Bookers are also increasingly looking for more unusual forms of camping accommodation, with pods the most popular glamping type this year, followed by cabins, bell tents, shepherd’s huts and static caravans.

Interestingly, Dan says, “treehouses are experiencing the quickest growth, however, with nearly double the bookings so far this year compared to last year, followed by wigwams.”

Why are more people choosing holidays with a focus on ‘going back to nature’?

Dan says there are several reasons people are choosing camping trips over luxury holidays, with reasons ranging from wellbeing to cost and to concerns over the climate crisis.

“Going ‘back to nature’ is inherently good for our mental health and wellbeing and it tends to be much cheaper,” he tells Euronews Travel.

“It’s also more sustainable: carbon footprints of outdoor holidays tend to be much lower than hotel stays, not only because most people tend to travel by car rather than flying, but also thanks to promoting local produce and low-impact activities like hiking in the surrounding area, as well as less carbon-intensive construction,” Dan adds.

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RCN le Moulin de la Pique is a five star camping site on a historic estate in the Dordogne region of France
RCN le Moulin de la Pique is a five star camping site on a historic estate in the Dordogne region of FrancePitchUp

There is one issue many outdoor enthusiasts are afflicted with, though: less than pleasant weather.

In case of inclement climes on your camping trip, Dan has some advice.

"If the weather is terrible and you are under canvas, try to keep your bedroom a wet gear-free zone. Store and dry wet stuff in your porch area rather than in your bedroom compartment. Protect your equipment by putting them in plastic bags or dry bags,” he says.

“Don't let anything touch your tent walls or you will have soggy socks.”

If all else fails he recommends a couple of activities in case of downpours: “go swimming in the sea, because you are wet already - or go to the pub.”

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