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Wild Camping in Europe – A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re reading this and wondering what ‘wild camping’ is – it’s pitching your tent in a secluded and safe spot (often on farmland or woodland) that’s not a campsite.  There are many reasons that some people prefer wild camping:

  • Cost – although nightly campsite costs are usually quite reasonable, it can be quite a hefty sum if you’re on a low budget.
  • Convenience – if you’re spending your holiday travelling from place to place (rather than visiting one destination), wild camping can make sense – it saves having to find a campsite.  You can just pitch your tent for the night and then be off on your travels again first thing the next morning.
  • Peace – if the peace and quiet of the countryside is your thing, then wild camping may suit you better – no noisy campsite parties, no screaming kids, nobody wending their weary way back through a sea of tents a bit worse for wear.
  • Thrills – some people just like the excitement of the unknown.

Wild camping is particularly popular with cyclists, especially those who are on cycling holidays – pedalling from one place to the next and pitching camp overnight before the next leg of the journey.  It makes sense as it means that you can cycle all day until you get too tired to go on

English: Wild Camp Just above Abhainn Sithidh ...

and then just pull up and camp nearby.  If you’re on a cycling holiday and want to give wild camping a go, here are a few tips that may make it easier.

  • Allow at least an hour to locate a sutiable spot to camp.  If you’re on the outskirts of a town or city at the end of the day, consider whether you can make it across to the other side before dark.
  • Check the area and see if it has a good ‘vibe’.
  • If you’re unsure about the area you’re in – talk to people.  Most locals will be only too happy to direct you to a suitable spot to pitch tent for the night.
  • If you’re in a busy area, check the place out and then stop and have dinner before pitching tent.
  • Be tidy – most landowners and farmers are quite happy for you to pitch a tent overnight.  However, if they’re left to clear up after you that’s not fair.  Make sure you leave the place as you found it and take away all your rubbish.
  • Look for water – check out the map and see if you can find a secluded spot near a beach or river bank.  This means water for washing which can be a godsend when you’re wild camping.

Of course, wild camping isn’t easy and is probably not suitable for families with children but for a couple off on a cycling holiday or young people touring Europe it can be a great way of having a cheap holiday.

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