Van life: the full wild camping experience
Camping at a beautiful quiet spot in Portugal, found with the help of Google Maps!
I started the Van Life in Australia. Continued in Italy, Spain and Portugal and even now in my home country Holland, I do it. What I love about it? To be able to have the most beautiful places as your backyard, for free! Living like a nomad and letting life be one big adventure and meeting a lot of like-minded people: gotta love it! Read here how to find your perfect camping spot...
It happens to the best. You see this green area on Google Maps, you head there in the middle of the night, you’re tired after driving for hours and you are really keen of sleeping at a quiet and natural spot. You get to this green spot and it turns out to be a park, a football field or something similar you don’t want to wake up at. Bummer.
I can advise you to use this little trick. First head to Google Maps with the ‘Standard’ map option and look for a green
spot in the area you want to stay for the night. Then head to the on the double squares on the right side (on your
phone) and there will show up more options, click on ‘Satellite’ (see photo). Now you can inspect if the area is really
as nice as you hoped for. Like this you can find your own unique camp spot, but there are also apps that will make this
whole searching a little easier: use an app! Two of which I know that are really good: Wikicamps (Australia) and
Camp4night. With both apps I can really advise you to read some of the recent comments, as sometimes there could
be some problems with the place, like a bad road because of rainfall or an overload of mosquitoes.
And then another thing, about the cops. I think in no country they are really happy about wild camping -as civilized people think you should life in real houses- and it can happen that the cops will knock on your window after or while napping. Remember, they can only fine you by handing out the find to you personally! So here are some tricks to maybe get away with it. First of all, if there is a way you could pretend like you’re not actually in your van, do it (get your van curtain-proof!). If you can see they can see you, make up a good excuse why you really had to sleep here, like “I couldn’t go sleeping at home because…….” or can pretend you had been drinking too much the night before. When they catch you when you are already out of bed, just tell them you haven’t been sleeping there, but maybe just got there to eat your breakfast / drink coffee / do yoga. It helps when your bed is made up by that time ;)
One last thing: make sure you leave the place as you found it, or even better of course! You might think “a little toilet paper here and there doesn’t make a huge problem” but it does. Put that little extra effort in cleaning behind your ass (I love using this Dutch expression right now) and don’t let people have a reason to not like us free souls.
Happy van life! ☼