wild camping

10 Tips for maintaining a healthy Wild Camping culture

A worse case scenario:

It happened the other night. We were sound asleep when a car came by. 500 watts shone us bright, a man walked up and checked the contents of our car with his torch. He shone around until he found my face. My heart pounded, my hands grasped the pepper-spray that laid within reach. Then I saw him, he was wearing a uniform. It was the authorities.

I felt lucky not to be sent elsewhere, felt lucky that he wanted us to know it was tolerated but it was wrong that we left our table outside. I also felt lucky, it wasn’t going to be a robbery. We were not alone that night, we shared our spot with 20 other vehicles and tents, we felt actually “safe”. Yet, we knew it would’ve been better if we hadn’t broken some of the rules.

  1. In Europe, wild camping is widely forbidden. Be well aware of this before setting out. Fines can go as high as 2500 €. Why do you still see so many Motorhomes everywhere? Wild camping often tolerated. It also depends if you are in the mountains or down by the busy seaside town. If there is a no camping sign, please respect it. There is a reason why the sign is there. If there’s a chain, don’t remove it. The locals really doesn’t want to see you there.
  2. Do not leave rubbish behind. Take all your rubbish with you. Onion and Banana peels included. A good deed would be to leave the place even cleaner than how you found it. Composting takes years.
  3. Take your poop with you.  A few years ago, we ‘d say bury it or do it in a manner that nobody can see nor step on it, far away from trials and paths. Dispose your used toilet paper in the bin or bury everything. Today, we say – pack it in a poop bag and dispose it in the rubbish bin. Just like how you’d do it for your dogs. Use a composting toilette. Be aware of the sudden over population of van-lifers – keep the all parking spaces free from poo and toilet paper at all times.
  4. Avoid making fireplaces. Avoid making fire. Its romantic. But making a fire in a non designated, sensitive area can cause a lot of problems with the authorities and locals. It can also cause forest fires to happen in a surrounding thats very dry. Don’t use chopped wood lying around from the farmers or foresters. This is theft. And last of all, don’t throw the no fire sign in the lake, please.
  5. Avoid camping directly at the parking lot of a climbing / boulder area. It’s so convenient to sleep near the crag. But this behaviour will lead to the closure of the crags in a matter of time, especially when hoards of vans and cars gather at the scene at night. Drive off somewhere else for other secluded areas and spread out. Camp in groups at the campsite. Avoid National Parks and protected areas.
  6. Avoid loud music. It’s cool to have your favourite reggae, or hard rock into the evening to go with a beer but take some respect for the environment and your neighbour. Ton down a little.  It’s not the city. Put on your head phones.  Don’t scream or yell or go havoc. Ever realised that the mountains transmit sounds easily to the other end of the valley? Use common sense. You’re sending out signals to the rangers to go hunting for you.
  7. Keep your camping things inside the van. It’s also important to know that it’s illegal to take out table and chairs, or swinging out the awning – this counts as camping.  Use them exclusively at the campgrounds.  Be discreet and pack up when the crowd comes in.
  8. Don’t camp out in big groups. The next time you come back to the same place, you’ll be wondering why a chain is up or police cars are coming by to fine and chase you away.
  9. Don’t argue with the locals, farmers or hunter. If asked to leave. Do so quietly. If anyone passes by, be friendly, smile, greet, wave.  Don’t be grumpy even if you are.
  10. Leave early. If you’re sleeping over in a spot that you know it’s going to get crowded the next morning, make it an attempt to leave by 8 am. The earlier the better. Also, try to vary your sleeping spots now and then. Don’t stay on a spot for too long. It’s not always easy in Europe, but avoid wild camping near any civilisation or where you can be seen.

Always put yourself in the shoes of the local that sees you, and ask yourself if you like what you are seeing. Be small, discrete, unnoticeable. Use common sense. Would you like a stranger to camp in your garden?

Help keep those wild spots of yours last forever. Be considerate, be sustainable and stop posting those spots anywhere on social media.

Leave no trace but footprints.

Happy Holidays!

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