In my opinion wild camping is staying overnight in a place that is not designated officially as a site for motorhoming. For example it is not an aire, campground, citycamp, autocamp, passion, a hotel with a campground, friends or restaurant.
It could be in a carpark, near a beach, next to a lake, alongside a river, in an off season chairlift carpark, forests, etc. I will show some pictures with some descriptions below.
Wild camping is not for everyone. We have traveled with people who never wildcamp and plan their trip to make sure they only stay in campgrounds. On the other hand we have met people who mostly wildcamp and use other sites only to catch up with clothes washing and recharging batteries. We do a bit of everything.
The advantage of wildcamping is firstly it is free which is great when you are on a budget. Also you can find some interesting and amazing places away from the normally busy campsites. We have found places that are quiet with not another person in sight.
Some of the disadvantages are that there are no facilities and you must fend for yourselves. Water is our greatest need as we use very little power. We try to keep our water tank full all the time as we never know when we are going to wild camp or stay at an aire.
Discretion is the key to wild camping. When we stay in places where people are around we make sure that our profile is kept low, for example don’t put out awnings , hang out washing, set up barbeques, table and chairs , all of these things draw attention to others and the police. Talking about the police in over 18 months of traveling we have only been asked to move on once. This was in Spain when we were visiting my cousin who has an apartment near the beach in Denia. As he was staying with other people we would drive to the beach each night to sleep. We were there for 5 nights and on the 6th night police came and asked us and the other motorhome there to move on. I have spoken to a Dutch traveler since who said that this was common to avoid people staying full time at places. We have also heard stories of the Turkish police moving people on as the place they are stopped was not safe and they directed them to a safer location. Turkey was a great place for wildcamping and the police were not a problem but assisted us when out travelling companions lost their wallet.
Safety is another issue to think about. We have a policy of “if either person feels unsafe on a site we move on”. There are times you get the feeling of a place whether it is safe or not. If you feel unsafe or uneasy when wild camping then I might suggest wild camping is not for you. You are motorhoming to enjoy yourself and not to feel uncomfortable. There is also safety in numbers, many times we have parked up and found that other motorhomers have joined us after seeing that we are staying the night. For example in Carnac, France we found a carpark next to the forest, by nightfall there were 3 other motorhomes each taking position in the 4 corners of the carpark. The carpark was very big and it was not a problem to have neighbours. On the other hand we have found a great spot only to find a motorhome parked a metre away when there was plenty of room to park elsewhere. Do not crowd other motorhomes, be friendly and respect their privacy. Try to start looking when it is not too late in the day, it is very hard to see what is around when it is dark and you don’t want to be parked next to someone’s private home or where the local teens hang out after dark. Also it is good to check out the best way to exit if an uncomfortable situation arises.
How do you find wild camping spots??
Keep your eyes open and look around as you are driving an opportunity often presents itself in some unexpected places.
Some bloggers keep records of their wild camping sites and allow downloads from their sites. See our Download Page for bloggers who have their wildcamping Poi”s.
There is a site called wild camping.uk that has sites other people have found.
The best places we have found have come from turning off the main roads and exploring.
Lastly wild camping will only be tolerated when motorhomers do the right thing. Keep a low profile, keep noise to a minimum and do not leave rubbish around. Leave only foot and tyre tracks.
A really good article that I have found on wildcamping in the Motorhome Fun Magazine is worth a read. Well written with some excellent thoughts on wildcamping.