Wild camping (also known as free camping) is an evergreen topic of debate in the motorhome community – some are in favour, some are almost religiously against it, saying that it is anti-social and gives us all a bad name.
I’m broadly in favour, within reason. You sometimes get to park overnight in amazingly beautiful and/or convenient places, for little or no cost. On the other hand, it is important to be considerate and show some common sense:
- Don’t stay in the same place for more than a night or two
- Keep everything inside your van (think parking, not camping)
- Don’t dump waste or litter of any sort
- Don’t get in people’s way
- Spend a little money in the local community if possible
On the other hand, touring around Spain and Portugal earlier this year, I heard some horror stories from other motorhomers about the kind of activities that some ‘wild campers’ engage in and that give us all a bad name.
Examples included toilet waste being put into bin bags and left in rubbish bins, people parking up permanently for weeks on end and generators running outside people’s homes. All of these (and much more) result in motorhomers being treated like criminals and banned from attractive parking spaces. C’est la vie – increased regulation is usually the result of the unreasonable or dangerous behaviour of a minority.
The other controversial aspect of wild camping is its safety. It is certainly important to consider the safety aspects of the location you are stopping in before darkness falls. To help with this, I’ve produced a Wild Camping Tips page which lists some steps to take when choosing a spot for the night. Click here to take a look.
By and large you should not have a problem – and in many cases, even if something vaguely nefarious is going on nearby, the people involved will not want anything to do with you, as long as you stay out of the way! I remember one night spent in a car park in the south of England when, in the middle of the night, we started to hear the crash of metal upon metal – a bit like scaffolding being dropped from a height. The next morning, it turned out that fly tippers had visited the other side of the car park from us to illegally dump some scrap metal.
Wild camping is an area where common sense and basic manners are important – and should keep you safe and legal, generally speaking.