This week in our Time Travel series, we’re exploring the history of camping in anticipation of warmer weather.
While camping isn’t a new phenomenon, it wasn’t applied to the recreational sphere until the end of the 19th century. Organizations like the Association of Cycle Campers and the Boy and Girl Scouts helped popularize camping, and newly established national and state parks provided lodging grounds.
As with other types of travel, the implementation of the automobile supported a wider growth of campers and campsites. RVs and campers hit the road starting in 1910, and tin can tourism escalated after WWII. Today, camping is seen as an escape from life, whether it’s a technology-free jaunt in a teepee or a lavish setup in an offbeat locale.
Flip through the gallery above to see how recreational camping has changed over time.
Sarra Sedghi is Paste Travel’s News Editor.
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The 19th century bred Alexis Soyer's Magic Stove and Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones' Euklisia Rug, the forerunners of the portable stove and modern sleeping bag. Recreational camping became popular in England near the end of Victorian Era, following outdoor crazes such as recreational cycling and pleasure boating.
Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty
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Thomas Hiram Holding, who is seen as the father of modern camping in the U.K., founded the Association of Cycle Campers (now the Camping and Caravanning Club) in 1901. Seven years later, Holding wrote the first edition of "The Camper's Handbook" to share his enthusiasm with the masses.
Photo: Camping and Caravanning Club
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The founding of the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA in the 1910s helped popularize the recreational camping movement in the U.S. Early scouting handbooks covered the outdoor experience from tent-pitching instructions to the recipe for s'mores.
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The establishment of free campgrounds on federal lands paralleled the institution of American national parks. However, travelers had a difficult time locating campgrounds on the way until 1936, when the trailer industry lobbied for an increase in campgrounds--at the end of the year, the number of campgrounds doubled.
Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty
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Although glamping is a huge travel trend now, the practice is more than 100 years old. Wealthy European and American safari-goers took their lavish lifestyles on the road, outfitting their campsites with luxurious amenities.
Photo: George Eastman House/Getty
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As a result of the burgeoning automobile industry, non-tent campers debuted in 1910. The Tin Can Tourists, a group of travelers who utilized campers and RVs, formed the first camping club in the U.S. in 1919.
Photo: Lambert/Getty Images)
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After WWII ended, the camping boomed thanks to a strong economy and vast advancements in gear. Enhanced equipment and a more streamlined highway system made camping--and getting there--a better experience, signaling camping's golden age.
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Today camping is seen as a way to escape everyday life instead of an affordable and popular retreat. Contemporary camping trends steer towards weaving comfort and technology into the outdoors experience.
Photo: Artur Debat/Getty