Wild Camping Tips – Ideas and Advice for Motorhome Camping

Tips for Wild Camping

Wild camping in a beautiful, peaceful spot can be one of the most rewarding aspects of motorhome travel.

Wild camping in a motorhome!
The view from a wild camping spot...

It can also be illegal, dangerous and anti-social – it all depends on whether you apply a bit of respect, courtesy and common sense to your parking decisions.

Motorhome Planet’s Top 10 Wild Camping Tips

  1. Don’t park if there is a sign prohibiting it – breaking the rules just causes them to become more severely applied. Only park in places with no apparent restriction and if an overnight parking fee applies, then pay it.
  2. Leave no trace of your presence – consider even picking up some litter and binning it if there is a rubbish bin nearby. Don’t dump waste water unless there is a proper drain for it and never dump toilet waste. Don’t wild camp if you don’t have a toilet in your van.
  3. Keep everything inside your vehicle – remember, you are parking, not camping. The same restrictions apply at many European motorhome parking aires – no awnings, picnic tables, chairs, etc.
  4. Park so that you can drive out easily in the dark if necessary. Try and avoid using levelling wedges if possible – if you do, make sure you can drive off them easily in an emergency and be prepared to leave them behind.
  5. Don’t stop anywhere that doesn’t feel right – most of the time, you will have no trouble, but we all know that there are places that are not safe overnight. Use your instinct and look for evidence of unsavoury night-time activities – broken glass, excessive litter, vandalism, fly tipping, etc…
  6. Make sure you are not in anyone’s way – that includes farm tracks, driveways and blocking lorries in lay-bys. Get well off the road and out of the way of passing traffic.
  7. Stay sober – at least one person should not drink and be able to drive at anytime, if necessary. This is a good idea for practical and legal reasons – assuming you are on public land.
  8. Find your parking place in daylight – take it from me, finding a place in the dark and making sure it is suitable is not easy. Don’t be too stubborn – use a campsite if you cannot find anywhere sensible and legal.
  9. Make sure you won’t get stuck if it rains overnight – check for firm ground.
  10. Don’t park up right by a campsite – they will see you as taking their business and may choose to complain about you. How would you feel if you ran a greengrocer’s shop and a van parked up outside your shop selling cut price fruit and veg?

16 thoughts on “Wild Camping Tips – Ideas and Advice for Motorhome Camping

  • Bruce

    We bought a 19yr old motorhome and after some repairs and modifications we wish to travel abroad in it. Wild camping where practical. I have heard that wild camping in Spain is illegal. Is this so?

    • Motorhome News

      I’m not really sure on the legal status of wild camping in Spain. What I know, from my experience and that of others, is that it is reasonably common and seems to be tolerated, as long as you are reasonable in how and where you do it and as long as you do not outstay your welcome.

      There are also a number of ‘aire’ type motorhome parking facilities dotted around Spain – most are free and all of the ones I have used are pretty good. Vicarious Books publishes a guide to these facilities in Spain & Portugal, which I would recommend.

  • Bruce

    Thanks for the info.
    Its a pity Spain and Portugal don’t operate something like the ‘France Passion’ stopovers.

    • Motorhome News

      Funnily enough, I have just had another look on the Vicarious Books site and it seems that there is a Spanish equivalent to France Passion, called Espana Discovery: http://www.vicarious-shop.co.uk/view_product.php?c_id=4&sc_id=&p_id=106

      Apparently there are 53 vineyards and farms at which you can stop, although these are only in the Alicante and Valencia regions.

      Worth a look if you are heading that way.

  • Bruce

    Thanks again for the info.
    I have had a quick look and it’s certainly of interest. Hopefully they will be expanding the coverage as time goes by. Having lived in Andalucia for many years, halfway between Malaga and Marbella I know that the winters there are a lot more attractive than those of the UK as well as being a whole lot less crowded.

  • Nascha

    Hi you all,
    what a great informatioal site!
    We’ve been to Portugal last year with a rental mobil home.. and I must say.. it has been the best holiday since years! Great nature camping in the mountains, next to a river, in the Northern part of Portugal (also called the green heart).

    • glynn

      Sorry, the website linked to in the comment above cannot be found

      • Hi Glynn,

        Thanks, it looks like that site doesn’t exist anymore – I’ve updated the comment to remove the link.

        Cheers, Roland

  • we wild camp most time in u.k as camping sites are to dear and nose with kids most fuel stions have water to fil your water tanks up

    • hi we are oap and love wild caping in scotland.where iy is LEAGLE to stay anywhere for 3 days. to get water you can buy a radar key for £3 from any council to fit any disable toilet

      • Hi Roy,

        Interesting point about the radar key – don’t you have to be disabled to get one of these?

        Regards, Roland

        • Yes you do and I don’t like people abusing the few privileges disabled people get. A sign we like in France in disabled parking spaces is if you want my space you take my handicap !

  • Thanks for the helpful tips. We love wild camping and have done a fair bit on our tour of Europe. Spain was more difficult than elsewhere in Europe, however, we found a couple of amazing spots with nothing but mountains. It does get a bit addictive looking for the most amazing spots.

    • ron elliker

      We have free parked in Spain for the last 18 years also Crete and portugal,never had a problem.Hot springs,lakes,villagesit is what motorhomes were made for,also last 4 yrs in Marocco
      Yours ron

  • Graham Hadfield

    I have just found this page and would point out a couple of things before people risk getting into trouble.

    You say “remember, you are parking, not camping”. In the UK parking means leaving the vehicle empty and returning just to drive it away. In the UK, any habitation of the vehicle is camping, not parking.

    As regards “It can also be illegal”. Any owner of land (a pub landlord for instance, whether a member of any “stopover” scheme or not) must comply with the requirements of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, which restricts numbers of vehicles and total nights in any year without a licence/exemption.

    Also on the subject of legality, taking water from anywhere without permission is theft.

  • Gav and Trudi

    Wild camping is not so easy now in the UK (in 2021). Authorities seem to have clamped down and there is a lot of opposition from locals toward motorhomers, with some vans being vandalised. We’ve not wild-camped for the last year or so because of this.
    The NC500 is overwhelmed every summer by motorhomes which highlights the need for better facilities. Good news is that things might improve with the introduction of Euro-style Aires in some places. We’ll have to wait and see!


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