Ford vans sponsor image desktop

In association with Ford Pro

Where can I park my campervan?

Making the most of campervan life is helped hugely by finding the right place to pitch up, but there are pitfalls to be aware of. Here are our top tips...

Volkswagen Camper by a river

So, you’ve taken the plunge, bought your campervan and are ready to make the most of the freedom it affords you. So, what should be your first destination?

The world – or the United Kingdom at least – is your oyster, but finding somewhere to stay requires planning. Here, we’ll help you decide where you should and shouldn’t go, and reveal some great resources to use in finding your perfect pitch.

Can you just park up anywhere? 

This embraces the concept of what is known as “wild camping” in the campervan and motorhome community. In short, it's spending the night exactly where you choose. So can you do that legally? Well, the simple answer is: "In most of the UK, no, you can’t just park up where you fancy."

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, camping on land that is not an official campsite requires the permission of the landowner. Get that, and you’re good to go. Fail to do so, and you’re trespassing. 

In Scotland, the laws are slightly more liberal with regard to wild camping, but in motorhomes and caravans, the upshot is the same – you need permission from the landowner.

Campervans on the beach

So where can you park your campervan?

There are plenty of websites and apps available that provide useful advice and recommendations for potential overnight stops.

One such app is Park4Night (£9.99 a year), which is a comprehensive, user-generated database of thousands of potential overnight stopovers, many of them rated and with pictures. It pays to be cautious, though, because while you will undoubtedly find some official gems, other listings are likely to be wild camping spots that would require approval.

Other similar resources that are worth checking out include (£5.99 a year for the app, which works offline) and (£9.99 a year for the app). They are both community based and allow you to download the data so you can access it without a signal.

If none of these takes your fancy, why not seek recommendations from others in the community? There are plenty of Facebook groups that can help – ‘Campervan overnight parking’, for example, has more than 121,000 members.  

Or how about trying the innovative Brit Stops scheme? Here you pay £28 (plus P&P) for a book and an app that list 1100 ‘hosts’ – such as farm shops, breweries and country pubs – who can provide safe overnight stopovers. While they don’t charge for providing a spot, there may be an expectation at some that you spend some money at their establishment (and it's a good way to support the local community).

Couple sitting inside a campervan

What if you want to stay somewhere for a few days?

A random park-up might work for a night, but if you are planning to stop somewhere for a number of days and want more in the way of comfort (toilets, showers and electricity for your camper van or motorhome, for example), a proper, well-maintained campsite is essential.

Again, there are a number of resources that provide recommendations, but a good place to start is with the Camping and Caravanning Club. Membership starts at £45 a year. One of the benefits is access to almost 100 club-owned sites (with up to 30% off site fees), and more than 1200 certified member-only campsites from only £10 a night. The club’s website has an excellent site-search facility, with numerous filters, to help you find exactly what you’re after.

Whichever route you choose to find a site, booking in advance is essential. The most comfortable sites in the most attractive areas are highly sought after. And if the site is in a particularly prized location – by a lake, for example – don’t be shy about requesting a pitch with a waterside view. If you don’t, you can rest assured someone else will beat you to it.

Wild campervan

What about going outside the UK?

If you’re venturing into France and a few other European countries, you can take advantage of ‘aires’ – public parking areas or private land where camper vans and motorhomes are allowed to stop overnight for free, or a small fee.

Stays are usually restricted to 24 hours (or occasionally 48 hours), and it’s not possible to book in advance, but aires can be hugely convenient.

Meanwhile, sites such as allow you to book managed campsites across Europe, Australia and America.

Remember, wherever you are staying – at home or abroad, at a stopover or at a site – one golden rule remains the same: respect your surroundings and leave your pitch as spotless as when you arrived.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more motorhome and lifestyle van features and reviews >> 

Also consider