Many motorhome travellers look for overnight options outside of a campsite, either for flexibility, budgeting or more freedom. This leaves two options; wild camping and overnight parking. We’ll outline both to you, and help you find overnight parking options across the UK and Europe. So read on to discover how you can enjoy the ultimate freedom of motorhome travel without being constricted to a campsite.
What are the rules on campervan overnight parking?
The most important thing to remember about parking overnight is that it is not allowed everywhere. Never assume you can stay somewhere, as that can result in you being woken up at 4am by an angry official. Secondly, just because you can park somewhere doesn’t mean that you can stay the whole night! Campervan overnight parking is difficult, but luckily there are loads of websites and apps to help make it easier!
How does overnight parking differ to wild camping?
Wild camping refers to camping somewhere that is not a campsite. This can be done with or without a motorhome, and is usually focused on being more in nature. Wild camping is also often prohibited, but generally if you follow the wild camping etiquette you’ll be fine. If you’re not noticeable, then you’re not in trouble. You can usually wild camp in most national parks, provided you stay away from the paths and from touristic spots. If you’re ever in doubt about whether you can wild camp, simply ask the nearest landowner to be sure. Often landowners won’t mind if you stay on their land, as long as you ask! Find out more information about wild camping in the UK.
Where can I park overnight in England?
Where can I park overnight in Scotland?
Where can I park overnight in Wales?
Where can I park overnight in Northern Ireland?
Where can I park overnight in Ireland?
If you're looking for overnight parking spots in the UK, your best bet is to buy the latest edition of the Brit Stops books. It costs only £28, and this money will quickly be compensated by all the campsite costs you're saving. It features a wide variety of locations offering free overnight parking for you and your van, from breweries to vineyards to farm shops - you'll find everything! It will ensure you visit new locations and meet new people, all from the comfort of your van. You can find out more about Bristops, and buy their current book for your permenant "membership card"!
Do the rules differ in Europe?
Europe holds a similar stance towards overnight parking, yet aims to be more accommodating to motorhome owners. Wild camping is permitted in many national parks, or upon request on private land. Many countries have designated overnight parking for motorhomes, known as camper spots. These range from car parks to beaches to town centres. Often they include free drinking water, facilities for chemical toilet and grey water disposal, and even electricity to hook up to. Some limit how long you can park there (usually about 48 hours) and others will have no restrictions. Here are some of the different names for them, keep an eye out for signs!
Spain & Portugal: Area de servicio para autocaravans
Italy: Area de sosta
France & Belgium: Aires de Service
Germany, Austria & Switzerland: Stellplatz
What is overnight parking etiquette?
The biggest thing to remember is that camper stops are not for camping. Do not pitch a tent, wind out your awning, hang out laundry or put out a camping table. Whilst there are tempting, if you want to camp then you should head to a campsite and pay for it. Leave the area as you found it, and keep noise and any disturbances to a minimum. Also make sure to keep your doors locked, don’t mistake overnight stops as having the safety of a campsite.
Online Resources for overnight parking and wild camping spots:
Now that you know where you’ll be staying, it is time to consider what you’ll be staying in! Check out Goboony for motorhome hire from a private owner, and find your perfect van. Once you’ve got wheels, you can head out, with the wide open road before you. Will you be enjoying baguettes and cheese whilst wild camping in France? Or throw all caution to the wind and head to Norway for wild camping under the Northern Lights? The choices are endless, so find a motorhome and let the freedom begin!