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Overnight Parking for Your Campervan or Motorhome

The freedom to go where you want, when you want? That sense of liberation is what makes owning a campervan or motorhome a dream for so many of us. If you’re thirsting for adventure and you’re lucky enough to have your own camper, you’ll know that road tripping is a great, budget-friendly solution to exploring far and wide.

Taking to the driving seat of your campervan or motorhome offers the flexibility to camp in various, often stunning, locations. Not only that, but you can also sleep in comfort inside your cosy home from home – because who needs the hassle of booking accommodation? That said, being a camper comes with its own responsibilities...

It’s up to you to:

  • Make sure you meet local regulations
  • Keep within camping restrictions in your chosen area
  • Find suitable parking or places to pitch up
  • Manage your own waste disposal.

Unfortunately, you can’t just park up and sleep… But there are ways to find free parking for your campervan or motorhome. Plan well, and you could have that stress-free holiday

Do your research

Every piece of land is owned by somebody. That’s why camping overnight on UK soil (without permission) could land you in hot water. Whether you’re travelling through England, Wales, or Scotland (yes, even Scotland), it’s wise to always seek the landowner’s permission before pitching up. Rules are usually set by each local council and breaking them can get you into trouble. Be sure to check local regulations to make certain that parking your caravan or motorhome is allowed. Some authorities may restrict long-term parking or camping, and the majority of councils say you can’t sleep by the road. That said, lorry stops and laybys may be an exception to the rule, so keep an eye out for those.

Read the signs

Though not allowed in most areas of the UK, overnight camping isn’t always strictly enforced and is sometimes tolerated. Some laybys, woodland car parks, forest car parks, and park and ride facilities may be accepting of campers. The key is to always read the signs – so you can rest assured that settling in for the night won’t lead to a rude awakening.

Ask permission

Camping on someone’s land or the carpark of a business premises could be considered trespassing on private property and could get you into bother. That said, if you speak to the landowner, they may let you stay for free, or a small fee. If in doubt, check - if you don’t ask, you won’t know.

Look out for truck stops

They’re not just for trucks. Simply follow the rules set out for trucks, and there should be no issue.

As a rule of thumb….

  • Take one spot
  • Be courteous
  • Only use the space overnight

Avoid motorway services

Parking at service stations is not usually permitted; they’re designed for short stops to refuel or take a rest. Most have signs which indicate that overnight stops are not allowed, and security teams will often be employed to enforce the rules.

Public car parks

Public car parks usually ban camping, sleeping, and cooking. They may also apply vehicle size limits, so check the signs carefully before making yourself comfortable. Be sure to always ask the land owner for permission, as they may not mind if it’s just for one night and you’re in nobody’s way.

Home for the night

When you’ve found the perfect spot, be sure to:

  • Park in a well-lit area - boosts your security and discourages intruders
  • Lock doors and windows before going to bed
  • Cover windows to conceal your camper van’s interior and maintain privacy

You might also want to consider alarms and steering wheel locks to further enhance security.

Wild camping

A van with a view? If camping is in your blood, wild camping is what it’s all about. Wild camping usually means setting up in remote outdoor locations that are not designated campsites. Campers will pitch up in more secluded, unregulated and undeveloped areas in the woods, mountains, or by the shore. Popular in Scotland (with the landowner’s permission), even some parts of the Lake District and Dartmoor permit wild camping.

The dream is to find a beautiful spot and set up home for a night or two, but this isn’t always legal. Rules and regulations surrounding remote camping vary by country, region and area. That’s why it pays to do your research and understand any rules that apply where you plan to stay. Consider remote spots off the beaten track and away from other motorhomes.

Once you have your perfect pitch, follow these rules for a stress-free stay:

  1. Always ask the owner of the closest establishment if camping is permitted
  2. Don’t camp on grass verges or car parks (without permission)
  3. Avoid parking near walking routes
  4. Stay for just one night at a time
  5. Arrive late, leave early
  6. Keep the noise down
  7. Leave the spot as you found it

Facilities

You won’t usually come across facilities if you haven’t paid to pitch your campervan or motorhome. However, some local authorities provide motorhome service spots, so it’s worth looking out for those. You’ll usually find them situated near garages, supermarkets or on the outskirts of town.

Ready to go?

As you can see, finding camping spots on your journey may involve a bit of legwork. However, if you do your research in advance of your trip and make sure to ask permission before pitching up, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a jaunt to the coast, the lakes or the countryside in your home from home. 

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