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Are you looking for the perfect glamping adventure? If you’re like me, you love the outdoors, but when it comes to camping? Not so much. I need a bed and preferably a toilet and a shower. Is that too much to ask?

That’s why I’ve been dying to try “glamping”. It is an amalgamation of the words “glamorous” and “camping”. It’s camping but with many of the comforts of home. Some say it’s “cheating” but if it gets you enjoying the best parts of the outdoors then who cares!

For our first foray into the world of “glamping,” we spent 3 nights at Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa, Florida. We booked our deluxe bell tent through Timberline Glamping Tampa which hosts 6 beautiful canvas tents at this state park.

We learned quite a bit while preparing for our glamping adventure, so I compiled a list of 10 tips for planning the perfect glamping trip to Hillsborough River State Park. But the truth is, this list will help with almost any glamping destination.

In this guide, I’ll give you everything you need to feel prepped and comfortable making your glamping experience unforgettable. I’ll also give you some tips and helpful information specifically about our experience with Timberline Glamping Tampa. Get ready for a fun experience and happy glamping!

A glamping site with a large white tent, wooden picnic table, and two plastic chairs arranged on a gravel surface, surrounded by lush trees and a portable barbecue grill.

Tips for planning the perfect glamping trip with Timberline Tampa

Not only was this our first glamping experience, but it was our first real camping experience together. My husband is an Eagle Scout so he knows how to rough it, but not me. I am the first to admit that I like a campfire but then I like to go back to my hotel room.

But for our first time preparing for a camping trip, I think we did a pretty good job. We were very comfortable and had almost everything you could think of, so we felt prepared. So here are my top tips to help you plan your glamping trip.

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1. Book Early

When we started looking in late November for our weekend stay in mid-February there were only 2 out of the 6 tents available. The only weekend left available was Superbowl weekend. Thankfully, we were flexible which is my best budget travel tip so we booked Superbowl weekend!

There are only 6 tents available at the site, so the earlier you book the more options you’ll have available. We booked a deluxe bell tent that came with a queen-sized bed, 2 end tables, a mini refrigerator, Keuring coffee machine, and a small seating area with 2 chairs. The tent was spacious and included air conditioning.

Chicken Bacon Ranch with Potatoes in foil packets cooking on a charcoal grill
Bacon Ranch Chicken with Potatoes in foil packets

2. Prepare Meals and Snacks

Although there was a cafe at Hillsborough River State Park, it appeared to be closed during our stay. However, it didn’t matter because we had planned and prepared to eat all of our meals at the campsite.

I spent that week leading up to leaving for the trip cooking and prepping our food and snacks. Here’s what I prepared:

  • Breakfast Burritos
  • Homemade Chili for chili dogs
  • Cornbread so we could also have chili bowls
  • Bacon Ranch Chicken with potatoes
  • Steak with potatoes and vegetables

I froze the breakfast burritos, chili, steak and chicken to keep fresh on the car ride up to Tampa (about 3 1/2 hours). I brought plenty of aluminum foil to wrap each meal in to cook over the fire or on the grill. Everything worked out great and was very delicious!

For recipes, I just googled “campfire recipes” and I also got some inspiration from the Pioneer Woman website. Of course, I also packed our favorite snacks and some camp-appropriate snacks like beef jerky.

A kitchen island cluttered with groceries an items for a camping trip including, sunscreen, bug spray, paper towels, and a basket among other things

3. Have a Packing List

When it comes to glamping and camping you must have a packing list to go off of. There’s a ton of prep that goes into planning for the perfect glamping trip that it would be such a bummer if you forgot something essential.

We created a packing list in a Google doc for ourselves and it worked pretty well for us, but we did miss a few things. So I put together my own comprehensive glamping packing list that you can download!

4. Stay Hydrated and Sun-Protected

Hillsborough River State Park has a lot of shade and trees, but the sun and dehydration can creep on you. It’s important to bring plenty of water with you when venturing throughout the park.

I like to bring my water bottle carrier so I don’t have to worry about holding it. Most bottle carriers have a pocket where you can stick some sunscreen, a snack, and maybe your phone!

5. Plan for Relaxation

Yes, camping and glamping are all about the adventure but you don’t want to forget it’s also about relaxation. Bring your book, listen to your favorite podcast, and lay on one of the hammocks at the campsite. Each tent site had at least one hammock available during our stay.

My husband accidentally fell asleep while trying to read a book on the hammock. Sometimes, taking an unplanned nap is exactly what you need!

A scenic view of a wooden bridge crossing over a serene river, surrounded by dense trees and vegetation in a peaceful forest setting.
Suspension Bridge Hillsborough River State Park

6. Follow Park Rules and Regulations

When we entered the park, we went through the Park Ranger station to give them the name on the reservation. They supplied us with a packet explaining the park rules and regulations.

Review everything, especially if you’re not used to camping or glamping. There is some information you may otherwise not know like don’t leave any food out that may attract animals like raccoons. Don’t leave anything out that has “food smells”.

Yes, this means even in your tent. We always packed all food in the fridge, sealed in the cooler, or locked in the car. We did not throw any food or anything that smelled like food in the trash can within our tent. This can still attract animals and you don’t want a raccoon trying to get into your tent in the middle of the night!

7. Check Weather Conditions

Regardless of where you are glamping, you should always check the weather conditions and plan accordingly. The weather in Florida can be unpredictable, so although there was no indication of heavy rain, we brought rain gear, including appropriate shoes.

Timberline Glamping Tampa does not cancel reservations due to rain, so if it looks like it’s going to rain during your stay be prepared! The tents are fitted for rain, so you won’t have to worry about rain leaking in.

entrance sign of 'Hillsborough River State Park' with a large tree and Spanish moss in the foreground, clear blue sky above.

8. Bring Outdoor Gear

If you’re looking to go glamping I’m guessing you may not have a lot of outdoor gear. I would recommend that you invest in a few things that will make life easier:

  • Multi-tool or Swiss army knife
  • Flashlights and lanterns
  • GPS/compass
  • Binoculars (for watching birds or other wildlife)
  • Radio

If you need anything there are opportunities to buy some supplies at the park. The park staff drove around with ice and firewood for sale and on certain nights they had a pop-up store with a few items. You can always contact the Ranger station for more information as well.

9. Pack Entertainment

As much as I love to take it all in and be “one with nature”, do not forget to bring some entertainment. We brought a book, a portable speaker, battleship, and playing cards. Timberline Glamping Tampa also had some games that you could rent like cornhole or giant Jenga.

10. Practice Campfire Safety

Fortunately, my husband is an Eagle Scout so I was not worried. But I can’t tell you how easy it can be for a fire to get out of control. If you’re not familiar with starting and maintaining a fire then brush up on campfire safety and bring some starters to make things easier on yourself!

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Timberline Glamping Tampa FAQS

How expensive is Glamping?

I will admit, that one other big difference between glamping and camping is the price tag. Glamping isn’t exactly a budget-friendly alternative to hotels. In total, we paid $265 per night for our deluxe bell tent, but I still had to walk to a shared bathroom and the shower was freezing cold!

However, I would still do it again because what I wouldn’t get from a hotel is the serene outdoor experience. We saved a lot more money because we cooked all of our meals and did not have to pay extra for any entertainment or activities.

If you’re looking for some tips on how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, I’ve got a post for that!

What amenities are included in the glamping accommodations?

Our deluxe bell tent included the following amenities:

  • One Queen Bed
  • Keurig Coffee maker
  • Mini fridge
  • Rugs, lamps, diffuser, and playing cards
  • Electrical outlets
  • Residential A/C & Heating Units.
  • Charcoal Grill (we brought our own charcoal)
  • Woodfire ring with a cooking grate
  • 2 plastic Adirondack chairs
  • Picnic Table
  • Hammock

Are pets allowed in the glamping accommodations?

Yes! It felt like we were the only ones that did not bring dogs. Check the Timberline Glamping Tampa website for more details.

Do you have your own toilet when glamping?

I believe that there are glamping destinations where you have a private toilet and shower, but this was not the case with Timberline Glamping Tampa. We used a shared facility with the rest of the campsite at the park. It was mostly used by the glamping guests because the rest of the campers were in RVs.

Is Wi-Fi available in the glamping area?

During our visit, there was no Wi-Fi available, but our cell phone signal at the campsite was decent. If you need strong internet, I would recommend that you make your own arrangements.

What recreational activities are available?

There are several activities available at the park including canoe and kayak rentals, but you are also welcome to bring your own. Timberline Glamping Tampa also has various entertainment activities available as add-ons and rentals like bikes, giant Jenga, badminton, and cornhole.

Are there any dining options onsite or nearby?

Yes, there are restaurants, breweries, and wineries nearby. However, I think the point of glamping is to immerse yourself in nature and the peacefulness of the great outdoors. For that reason, I would recommend that you prepare and have all of your meals onsite.

Ready for your glamping Adventure!

All in all, I would say that our first glamping trip was a resounding success. We felt prepared and comfortable. Now it’s time for you to plan your trip and I know this guide will have you feeling the same way so you can focus on having a great time while glamping!

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