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Friday, October 15, 2010

I've rented my free camper, how can I camp for free?

Following on from the post yesterday about how to travel for free by getting yourself a free relocation camper van, the next step is to how to minimize your expenses whilst going from your start point to the end point.

I traveled for 18 months around Australia over a decade or more ago now. I have also camped for free the half a dozen or so times I've rented free relocation vans. It is actually surprisingly simple and just takes some common sense and respect for those around you.

If you are only staying one night anywhere, you are usually OK to just pull up, cook some dinner, have some beers or a wine and go to sleep in the back of your camper van. You are fully enclosed and so no different to any other vehicle parking for the night.

I personally avoid highway parking bays because they are unattractive, noisy and people pull in and out all through the night making it difficult to sleep. In fact when traveling I avoid major highways full stop. They rarely show the best a country has to offer in term of scenery. Stick to the B roads. Highways are for those in transit and give little for those who are looking for travel experience.

In New Zealand and Australia there is a big culture of camping. Don't feel like pulling over for FREE is doing something wrong. People, especially families spend many of their holidays camping at their favorite spots and generally those spots are free for all to enjoy. Many times people with young families don't travel more than 50km from their home to go camping. They head to the local river, mountain or lake and set up for a week or so.

The trick therefore is when you pull into a little village to buy your supplies for breakfast or your bottle of wine, don't be afraid to ask where the salesperson goes camping locally. 95% of the time people are extremely accommodating and indeed proud of sharing their local favorite spot and you leave not only with your purchase but with directions and a mud map. These are rarely places you can just stumble across.

The biggest tip I can offer is to seek this advice at least 2 hours before dark. Finding a secret spot in the dark, in an area you are not familiar with, is not fun.

As a back up - there are a couple of books you can buy that list some spectacular (and some not so spectacular) free camping spots. In remote regions these books are gold but in more popular areas lots of people have these books so it is unlikely you'll have the beautiful spot to yourself or may even turn up to find the place full.

Cities pose the biggest problem for free camping but even this is not insurmountable. Two tips I would give - try and arrive in cities on a weekend because this is when most good stuff is happening and find the inner city industrial area. There is always one very close to the city, usually close to a public transport link, with free parking and deserted from midday Saturday and all day Sunday. You cant bother anyone there and no-one should bother you.

Happy FREE camping!

1 comment:

  1. Very true. I would only use the services of commercial caravan parks if I were to be staying with my family for the amenities available, otherwise it is off the beaten track!