Finding a good place to stay is part art, part science with a sprinkling of luck. Once we know the general area we want to stay or to break our journey we zone in on the region and using a combination of Google Maps, the park4night app and blogs or websites, we research our options and hope for the Baby Bear of camping places, i.e. ‘just right’! We spread a wide net, look at all the options, read recent reviews and narrow it down to one main camping spot and one or two alternatives as fall back positions. If we are staying just a night or two we might look for a nice camping car park but for longer stays we usually opt for a bit more comfort at a campsite. What are the differences I hear you ask!
There are three main types of overnighting spots. Firstly there is your traditional campsites which can range from basic, with maybe just toilets and showers, to very luxurious with all the bells and whistles, like a shop, restaurant, games room, laundry facilities etc. Prices range from €20-€60 per night with most of the services included.
Then there are Aires (France), Wohnmobilstellplatz (Germany) which are essentially camping car parks, with various levels of services and facilities, they will usually have electric plug in, and water fill and emptying services, toilets and showers may or may not be available. You have a relatively narrow space and you are also not allowed to put out an awing or patio furniture, it is literally a parking space. Prices range from totally free to €20 per night with most of the services charged as extra.
And finally there is wild camping, so far we have avoided this type of overnight stay as they tend to be remote, at trail heads, pullouts on country roads, even on city streets. They are totally off grid and there is always a risk that you may be moved on by officials or cause aggravation to locals. In some countries this type of camping is illegal and in many places extremely difficult to find, due to tighter and tighter restrictions. This type of camping also requires us to be totally self sufficient in power and water as well as shower and bathroom facilities. These park ups are usually free but there may be some parking fees involved.
A ‘just right’ park up, means mostly level, reasonably quiet, with access to basic services at a minimum and within easy reach of a shop and other amenities. Being in cities can be fun and exciting, but they are also busier and often noisy. Being in the countryside can mean limited access to a shop or market, a bakery or laundrette. When we park up we like to stay put and walk or use our bikes to run errands, Tigín may be a tiny home but try finding on street parking or manoeuvre her around a tight supermarket car park, that is another level of complicated.
For beginners we have so far been extremely lucky, we have stayed in some amazing spots already, alongside rivers and streams, surrounded by snow capped mountains and waterfalls, in medieval cities and by lakes. And except for one night when we had to endure an all night rave at a nearby cafe we have slept soundly or as soundly as I get to sleep these days!