Simple guidelines that made my wild camping easy, with little hassle, and helped me gain respect from local people in most of the places I drove through
Biarritz, France, 11 September 2018These are my very personal rules to keep me away from fines, troubles, and more unpleasant situations.
I've been traveling with vans for a long time, and these simple guidelines helped me a lot through the years. Sometimes you have to step up for yourself and shit may still happen. But I had only one unfortunate event in years, and it was due more to people's dull stupidity, rather than to my behavior.
The golden rules1. Be clean
Keep your spot (and your van) clean at all times, no trash outside. Do not invade public spaces with your towels, tables, chairs, unless the place you are is a park that tolerates that kind of settlements. If you travel with a dog, keep him on a leash, or at least allow people to get used to its presence before granting him full freedom. If possible, grab a bag and go clean the beach or the surroundings. It will make you feel a better person besides giving you kudos.
2. Short stays
Don't stay more than 1 or 2 night. Your van has wheels, keep moving, and you will not attract the unwanted attention of robbers, police, unhappy neighbors.
3. Get to know the place you are staying
Move into your new spot when is late enough, but before sunset so that you can carefully study the situation. Places change from day to night. An empty parking spot at night can be super-crowded in the day. You can get your van stuck easily.
4. Keep smiling.
The police will give you shit, people will, etc. Just keep smiling and if the situation gets unpleasant, move away. With a genuine smile and politeness you can easily avoid fines and to make things worse.
5. Respect the locals.
Do not stay too close to houses, people living there may not appreciate your presence. It sucks, and sometimes they will want to argue with you with no right. Still, better not get people mad.
6. Let a community guide you to new places
Use an app to help you find a spot and read the comments of people who already visited the place.
It is helpful. Personally, I use the Park4Night app.
Let me know your rules and your experiences so that we can integrate this post and make it more useful to others.
Enjoy the road!