It’s Adrian here; occasional guest blogger and son of Margaret, your blog hostess. I have just watched Margaret and Shirley drive off into the distance with a pang of jealousy. You see we (my wife, daughter and I), have just returned from a five day trip in Margaret and Shirley’s motorhome. And now, after saying thanks and fond farewells, we have handed over the keys and watched them head off on their next adventure.
I love our trips in the motorhome. I love the relaxing and calming nature of the outdoor lifestyle and, as an ex long-distance truck driver, love driving large vehicles. If I didn’t have the family to consider I would be happy just driving round finding new places to spend the night and admire the scenery. Unfortunately, having a wife who hates long road-trips and a five year-old daughter who needs constant mental stimulation, this is not an option. However, finding interesting places to stop overnight is.
Finding Overnight Parking Places in a Motorhome
After years of finding places to park overnight, when driving a forty-foot articulated wagon, I have become pretty good at being able to find quiet, out-of-the-way places to park up. Here are my tips for finding good places to spend a night or two in the UK…
- Forestry commission car-parks usually allow you to park for a night or two. Visit the Forestry Commission England, Forestry Commission Scotland or Natural Resources Wales for maps and lists of forest car parks you can visit.
- Wild Camping UK have a great online community and map of places to park up and find water.
- Lochs, lakes and reservoirs often have parking places on their banks. Look for roads running alongside bodies of water on your map and you are almost sure to find off-road lay-bys and unofficial parking spots.
- Mountains and valleys attract visitors because of their natural beauty. Head for places with gorgeous vistas and you’re sure to find a nice spot to spend the night.
- Use Google Maps Street View to scope out potential overnight spots, check for height barriers or look for the dreaded “No Overnight Parking” sign.
Wild Camping vs Caravan Sites
Of course wild camping is not for everyone and not everyone has the on-board facilities to be able to stay off-grid for more than one night. Some people want the home comforts you find on a good caravan site when they are away in their motorhome. When you are staying off-site you have to go looking for amenities like toilets, showers and laundry facilities, and off-course there is no electric hook-up and chemical waste disposal. However, if you have an all-singing van you may have some of these on-board.
Motorhome Upgrades For Wild Camping
If you are looking to stay off-site for more than one night at a time there are a few things you may want to consider having in your motorhome.
- Large Batteries – When you are off-site a large bank of leisure batteries are advisable. Particularly in the darker months when you will have heating and lights on more.
- Solar Panels – Solar panels are a great addition to your van. They will keep your batteries charged. This means not having to spend every second or third night on a site to charge them up again.
- LED Lighting – LED lights use much less energy than other light bulbs. By replacing the interior light bulbs in your van with LED bulbs your batteries will stay charged longer.
- LPG Gas System – Many of your motorhome’s systems will run on gas when you are not plugged into an electric hook-up. Your heating, fridge and hot-water heater will all rely on gas when there is no electricity available. Therefore having an easily refillable gas supply is vital. As LPG is much, much cheaper than getting propane bottle refills from a caravan site. Getting an LPG system installed will pay for itself quite quickly.
- A Spare Chemical Toilet Cartridge – It is a good idea to have a backup cartridge on-board just in case you can’t find somewhere to empty your chemical toilet.
Whilst none of the above are essentials, they will definitely make your life more comfortable.
Some Other Tips
Here’s a few other hot tips to make your off-site life a little easier…
- If you need to get rid of waste and refill your water tanks etc, most caravan sites will let you do this for a small fee; without your having to spend the night.
- Don’t empty your chemical toilet down drains. The waste from your toilet need to be processed in a specific way. Always use a chemical toilet disposal point. If you are using environmentally friendly toilet chemicals (there’s no excuse not to nowadays) you can flush the contents of your cartridge down a toilet. Public toilets are good for this if you are stuck.
- Most cemeteries have an outside tap which you can use to refill your water tanks.
- Carry a watering can. This is a good way to get water to your van if you can’t get the van near the tap.
Wild camping is one of the beauties and perks of having a motorhome. Unlike a caravan, a motorhome allows you to be self-sufficient and have the opportunities to park in places where you are surrounded by natural beauty. There is nothing better than enjoying a meal and a glass of your favourite beverage surrounded by stunning scenery. Way better than looking out of your window and seeing the caravan in the pitch next door!
Get out there and enjoy our wonderful world!