Waking up with the sound of the birds singing, the wind shaking the tree leaves and maybe even a gurgling stream.
I bet that when you think of traveling in a van, this is the kind of scenario you’re imagining.
Here you will find some tips on how to find great “wild” parking spots. I use wild here to define non-urban parking, away from people, houses and cafés.
Little disclaimer before the ramble starts: there is a little controversy in regards of sharing wild/boondocking spots for motorhome and vans. This is because people are concerned that sharing GPS coordinates on amazing parking spots will make it easily accessible for people, attract not so respectful campers and ruin the whole experience for everyone. We have seen this happening in Loch Lomond, Scotland, were wild camping has been banned after it became a ground for doucheb… ehm fouls that trashed the place and had zero respect for it. There it was mainly wild camping with tents but you get the point.
I do partly agree with this view and I am reluctant in sharing wild parking spots online. So far I have only shared urban spots, particularly places were I think overnight parking creates no bother. I think I will be keeping it this way. This said I have myself used apps and forums to find wild camping spots and I appreciate the use of it if used correctly.
As van dwelling is rising in popularity, it is VITAL that we don’t self boycott ourselves by acting irresponsibly and annoy locals. I will be writing soon a blog post on an essential “parking code” soon, but in the meantime I hope that whoever is reading this understands the importance of parking intelligently and apply the “leave no trace” principles when parking/camping in nature.
Also, I realized while writing this blog posts that my suggestions aren’t really that “wild” after all. Most of the times I park not too far from a secondary road, on even terrains. I have no experience whatsoever with off road driving and such as Pam is far from being a 4×4! I’m sure that if you are after off-road adventures you’ll be able to find that online.
Pfeeeew that ended up being a long disclaimer. Sorry. Ok so, here we are:
CHECK FORUMS AND APPS
I know i know, I just said that sharing GPS coordinates is no good for wild spots, however if tools are used responsibly they can be of great help, especially when you are not particularly experienced.
I personally did not use any apps the first year, I then found the park4night and have used it few times since. As I mentioned in my 8 tips to find urban parking spots post, I found the app particularly useful in urban areas, but it depending on the area you are in you can also find some non-urban ones.
DRIVE TO THE BEACH
Beaches are usually great places to park for obvious reasons. Beach parks are usually quiet at night and guess what? Close to the beach! Whether you will be able to find beach parkings that allow overnight parking depends on the country your with (et. Portugal is very tolerant while England really isn’t) so do always check for signs before setting up.
EXPLORE THE LAKES
Hands down my favorite parking spots. Nothing better than waking up in the morning and have a dip the freshwater. If it’s surrounded by pine trees, even better.
Lakes, especially medium sized ones are great for finding incredible spots. Just look on the map or satellites for roads that coast the lake and go explore. Obviously, avoid any well known lakes, especially if it’s high season. Mountain lakes are also great if you can find a road that gets to it.
LOOK OUT FOR FOREST PATHS ENTRANCES
Odie and I LOVE parking near to forests.
Luckily for us, it’s straightforward enough to find a parking spots next/in them. There is no real rule for it, but if I see there is a forest nearby on a map, I just drive through it until I find a spot. Usually, close to the entrance of paths, there are small areas were hikers/dog walkers can park. Most often those are right on the side of the road however sometimes there will be a small designated parking area. Same goes if you are on a mountain road. If you can find the start of mountain treks, there will usually be an area nearby where you can stop.
FIND NATIONAL PARKS
Incredible parking spots can be found in National Parks. When looking at the maps (if there are no lakes in sight hah) I always check for National Parks. Not all Parks accept overnight parking so you will need to check before hand whether that’s allowed. Even if you are not allowed in the National Park itself, you’ll probably be able to find a decent spot nearby. Also, many National Parks do have an info point with a large parking space, so if you can’t find anything better, that can be a last minute solution.
So here you are, my 5 tips for finding great non-urban spots.
Any more tips? Leave them down below, would love to hear from you!!