Ever wondered where the best free motorhome camping spots are in the UK and Europe but had no idea where to start looking?
In this article, we explore all the resources you need, from finding the right campsite for you to motorhome parking tips for a night of free camping.
Is it possible to camp for free in a motorhome?
Of course, camping for free in a motorhome is possible!
You just need to be wary of the rules depending on where you are in the UK or Europe, so independent research is advised in order to stay safe out there and to avoid any unwanted fines.
However, as long as you’re respectful of the environment around you, being careful to leave the location as you found it, as well as adhere to the signs around you, it is absolutely possible to camp for no additional cost!
Where can you camp for free in a motorhome?
All over the place! There are many places you can camp for free in a motorhome, you just have to know where to find the gems!
Although you might not necessarily think of it as a serene, go-to camping spot, supermarkets are actually a great place to set up for the night in your motorhome.
Most importantly, though, they are relatively safe, which is not something to be taken lightly when you’re either travelling on the road and/or are in a foreign place.
If it’s all new territory, you’ll be less concerned about the setting and you’ll just be glad to have somewhere safe to sleep for the night.
Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco provide parking spaces specifically with motorhomes in mind, however, it’s always worth doing a quick internet search to figure out the best plan of action.
Woodland car parks, lay-bys, park and ride facilities, and patches of unused ground are also popular options. Some of these locations will be less idyllic than others, but if you’re on a tight budget, then you can’t really turn your nose up at a free camping spot.
Do free motorhome camping spots have facilities?
Generally speaking, no - free motorhome camping spots don’t tend to have facilities, though there are obviously exceptions depending on where you are. That’s usually why they’re free!
In the UK, you can occasionally pay a small fee to a campsite to dispose of your waste properly, use the toilet, and can replenish your water supplies. Depending on where you are, there is also likely to also be local amenities nearby if you do a quick internet search.
Alternatively, you could try to find one of the rare motorhome service points provided by the local authorities, however, these tend to be few and far between so make sure that you do your research before.
In Europe, on the other hand, service points are common and can be found at aires, supermarkets, and garages along the road, so be sure to look out for them.
Do you need to be careful of motorhome and campervan parking laws?
Yes - you do need to be careful, as every country in Europe has different rules that you’ll need to research yourself and abide by.
When it comes to finding free motorhome camping spots, you always run the risk that you might be moved on or receive a fine from the local authorities, especially in a national park or beach car park.
Your best chance of avoiding a fine is to abide by the signs around you, be discreet, and make sure that you never park on someone’s private property. If you follow these tips, the chances are you won’t have too many problems when it comes to camping in your motorhome.
It is also important to note that just because you’re using a free camping spot, doesn’t mean you can leave anything behind.
You shouldn’t leave any traces of rubbish that will damage the environment, and treat the location and the people in it with the respect that you’d expect yourself.
Free motorhome camping spots are a privilege, not a right, so always make sure that you take your rubbish away with you and dispose of it properly. After all, you want to make sure that these spots remain free, right?
Don’t ruin it for everyone else who is making the effort to abide by the rules, and make the effort, too.
Is camping for free in a motorhome the same as wild camping?
Camping for free in a motorhome is similar to wild camping. However, it depends on what your definition of wild camping is, as camping for free in a motorhome isn’t always as idyllic as you might think.
The majority of people consider motorhome wild camping as when you find a remote spot without other people or vans around, whereas free overnight motorhome parking in the UK and Europe is more about finding somewhere safe to sleep without it costing anything.
Even if that means sleeping in a designated area in a supermarket car park, it’s still free, despite not being the prettiest of locations. This then summarises the distinct difference between wild camping and camping for free in a motorhome.
How do you find the best spots to camp?
There are multiple ways to find the best spots to camp. There are a copious number of apps, all of which have mapping and navigation services covering the UK and Europe.
These apps know where you are using GPS functionality and, as a result, will show you what is available to you in that area.
Whether you prefer to do your research on websites or through an app, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten resources to aid your research.
Although it might seem somewhat strange to pay for an app to find a free camping spot, there really are some gems out there that are fantastic, so we thought we’d include a combination of free apps as well as apps you can purchase alongside in-app purchases.
Check out the following websites and apps that are free and can be bought to find the best camping spots below!
Park4night is an excellent motorhome parking app that is free, that includes multiple nearby places to stop from campsites to supermarket car parks, fields, and also lay-bys.
Alternatively to the free version, for £10 a year you can use the Park4Night app offline, too! This option is perfect for individuals that prefer wild camping or generally being off the grid!
If you’re on a tight budget, both the website and app for Campy are entirely free, keeping in line with the free theme!
Conveniently explore 29,228 campsites in your pocket, free of charge. The options are truly endless. Find the best motorhome stops with Campy!
Stayfree is a relatively new app to discover the best camping spots nearby. The app is free to download and is fairly easy to use, so is great if you’re on a strict budget.
However, it is worth mentioning that the app is reliant on community input and feedback, which might account for its small size in comparison to a few of the other alternatives that we provide in this article.
For inspiration on your next motorhome trip, Camperstop is a great option!
The difference between Camperstop to the other apps we’ve suggested so far is that you’ll need to purchase the hard copy guide for €26.50 before you can get an annual subscription to the app for only €5.49!
Alongside this, Campertop provides you with the option to download handy data sets to your sat nav from €3.25.
If you’re looking to plan a European road trip on a tight budget, Camperstop is a perfect way to reduce or eliminate your accommodation costs.
Standing at the price of £5.99 for full offline use, the Campercontact app is easy to navigate featuring over 33,000 excellent camping spots to choose from.
The website and app list motorhome parking spots throughout Europe, with nearly 700 in the UK, and claims to be Europe’s biggest.
The app includes features such as the best spots in each country, to provide you with inspirational things to check out along the road as well as potential route ideas.
Searchforsites is a huge database that you can scour for all types of stopovers imaginable on an app and website, depending on whichever you prefer.
With over 100k members providing and updating information daily, you are sure to find the best free motorhome camping spot recommendations on there.
Although it is free to use, if you’re willing to pay a fee it is also possible to download their data onto your Garmin or TomTom sat-nav.
However, if you’re on a budget, the website is easy enough to navigate entirely free of charge!
Download the CampingCard ACSI app to find your perfect campsite or motorhome pitch!
Because it's also possible to purchase motorhome pitch information with your campsite information.
You can filter by more than 150 amenities, and see where you can spend the night nearby at a glance. Why not give it a whirl?
The Instagram page and app, Vanlifelocation, helps you find and share the best camping spots across Europe!
Browse the idyllic pictures that all have their location attached for inspiration and join the community! It doesn’t get more accessible and easy.
Although this is a private Facebook group until you request to join it, the Campervan Overnight Parking Facebook group has nearly 114,000 members.
The group full of like-minded individuals all looking for overnight camping spots is ideal if you’re looking for recommendations.
Although this is the largest group on Facebook, there are many others that you can join if you prefer! Who knows, you might even meet some friends!
Sometimes, some of the most beautiful camping spots on the road are found when you’re completely lost.
However, this isn’t always the most suitable option, especially if you’re with the whole family.
Maps.me is a fantastic app that you can use offline when there’s minimal to no signal, for those of you that prefer finding a camping spot the good old fashioned way.
A great advantage of Maps.me is that you can also download the map of a whole country before your departure.
This is ideal, especially when you’re abroad, as it means that you won’t need to use potentially expensive data roaming once you hit the road.
There are multiple ways to find the best free motorhome camping spots that are the perfect choice for you along the road, you just have to know the best places to look for them!
Next time you’re planning a long road trip with your motorhome, why not check out one of the suggestions in this article?
Once you find a favourite, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t checked out recommendations sooner!
The world is meant to be explored. Be safe out there and enjoy!