Here are 12 of van life unwritten rules for a peaceful, trouble-less and civil overnight stay.
As I mentioned on my “5 tips to find “wild” parking spots blog , van dwelling seem to be rising in popularity and is attracting lots of people interested in a more simple and practical way to live and travel. Because of this, it is SUPER DUPER important that we keep a respectful attitude towards the places we are fortunate enough to visit.
I hope that by following those rules you will minimize the chances of getting that kill joy “knock knock” in the middle of the night!
1.You shall check local laws
Every country has different laws regarding wild camping and overnight camping. Sometimes provinces and cities in the same country have different rules. Check those out and keep an eye out for signs!
2.You shall arrive late and leave early
This is especially true for urban parking. If you arrive before the sun sets and just hang around your van, people might get concerned. If I’m parking in a residential area, I always arrive when the sun has set. Won’t say that I leave before the sun rises but I do leave as soon as I wake up.
3. You shall not stay in the same parking longer than a night
The longer you stay somewhere, the more you will attract unwanted attention. If I am parking in urban areas I ALWAYS follow this rule. The rule gets looser the farest (is that even a word?) I am from people. Still, try and move as often as possible.
4.You shall not leave your stuff outside
Whether its chairs, tables, tank of waters, underwear drying, don’t leave it outside. This serves two purposes: you won’t attract as much attention and you will be able to leave immediately the parking should you hear suspicious noises.
5.Your shall not leave your stuff on the front seats
Same reasons as rule n 4. If you have to, make sure it’s hidden under a blanket or similar.
6.You shall not make loud noises
Wanna make friends? Avoid loud music, loud talking, slamming doors and taking 15mn to park.
7.You shall avoid switching on the lights
Unless you have light proof super dark window shades, if you switch on the lights everyone will be able to see inside. If you are in a non-built area people will able to spot you from miles away especially if you are somewhere like a lake shore or a beach. Don’t be Grace.
8. You shall not get drunk
Don’t get smashed before going to bed. You should ALWAYS be in the condition to drive away in case someone/something is bothering you or police ask you to move. Also, you should always be vigilant to your surroundings, alcohol will lower your reactivity making you more vulnerable. Don’t self boycott yourself and put yourself in danger.
9.You shall not park on roadsides
Roadsides are dangerous. People will be able to see you straight away which means you will make you more vulnerable to weirdos, thieves but also paranoid locals and police. Also, other cars could crash into you while you’re parked on a roadside. For as much as it’s tempting to just park there when you are tired, you never know what could happen so be cautious! The only time I got bothered by police I was parked on a roadside. Just saying.
10.You shall apply the No Trace principle
Leave your parking spot as you found it. Actually, even better, if you see any rubbish scattered around pick it up and dispose of it. If you think about it, it does not matter who littered the place, what matters is to respect nature, locals and not give any reason to authorities to impose stricter rules.
11.You shall not park close to campings
It makes sense to me that it will be more likely to be moved on if you park close to campings. This is of course because camping owners have an interest in people using their facilities and are likely to be annoyed at people not doing so. Especially in areas were the overnight parking rules aren’t clear, I would avoid parking close to campings to decrease the chances of being moved on.
12.You shall be friendly to locals
I have the tendency of being very reserved and avoid contact with locals. This is because I am always a bit nervous of letting people know I travel on my own. I have however found that whenever I had gotten into a conversation with a local, only good things came out of it. Most people will be nice at you if you are at nice at them first! So smile, go and drink a beer at the local pub and most importantly don’t make a big deal out of it. If you are worried and nervous of what people will think, guess what, they’ll sense it. Keep a positive attitude and you’ll see that the universe will smile back at you!
Those are my 12 commandments for a safe, hassle free overnight parking.
Can you think of any others? Would love to know!
11 thoughts on “12 commandments of overnight parking”
Good points, Marina. I sometimes break the “not at the side of the road” rule though, it’s very dependent on what is on the side of the road. In the Yorkshire Dales, for instance, there’s lots of good parking spots in quiet areas, at the side of the road and with great views. I must admit, I abuse the ‘one night only’ rule too, but rarely.
p.s. It’s “farthest” 😊
Hi Jamie, I break my own rules too occasionally, I guess the exception confirms the rule! 🙂 Love the Yorkshire Dales.
WOW! I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! Me and my boyfriend are planning to convert a van and travel around the UK and Europe so getting as many tips as possible before we make a start! Great post xx Imogen
So cool…I envy your life right now
Thanks for all these pieces of good advice!
I would add: always park so that your car is heading towards the way to go (I hope it’s clear, english is not my mother tongue 😉
Leider kann ich kein Englisch. Habe mich riesig gefreut dich mit dem Van zu sehen. Bin zwar schon über 70, doch habe meinen Fiat Doblo fast gleich ausgebaut aus meiner Vorstellung. Das Einzige ist wie hasst Du den Herd eingebaut? Wo hast Du das Gas? Ich habe in dem Schränkchen Geschirr, Besteck und Lebensmittel drin. Dafür keine Vorhänge, mache abends mit Folien zu. Vor dem Beifahrersitz unten ist meine kleine Kühlbox. Würde sehr gerne nach England, Schottland und Irland verreisen. Nun abwarten.
Bis bald Mini
I’m a 63 yr. old lady and I’ve been traveling a couple of months a year in my 1987 toyota van with my dog, for the last ten years or so. Love your tips and it’s interesting (I’m in the US) that I’ve come to the same conclusions about how/where/when to park as you have. I sure wish I could travel full-time as you are doing, but can’t afford that yet. However it’s a great and inexpensive way to see the countryside!
I have an 87 toyota also! I had it fixed up for stealth camping when I worked on the road a lot. I did that after working around Lexington Kentucky one time during ‘Derby week’ and not being able to find a hotel anywhere for less than $300 a night! Sadly it blew a head gasket last winter, I just acquired a 2005 dodge grand caravan, so it will get outfitted for now, but I hope to get the old ‘yota going again, love it.
The only rule I have is I don’t leave anything behind and I don’t make noise after 9:00pm but that’s just common courtesy. Everything else is absolutely fine to do. Even the “don’t stay the night” signs are a load of rubbish. I’ve been living in a van over three years now and not once had an issue. I park when I want, where I want, and wake up and leave when I want. I have I all my lights on, ipad playing, cooking going, shower running. You name it. And the front cab is loaded with my stuff! I don’t hind anything unless it’s valuables.
Oh I should add I’m in the UK. I guess the rules apply differently to elsewhere. I’ve also lived all over Europe too, and never once had an issue. In fact elsewhere in Europe is a lot better than the UK. We have very little space here and most of it has been build on. I’m hoping to move to Canada 🍁 where I guess these rules will apply?