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Can I Stay Anywhere In A Motorhome

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  • 14-04-2022
Can I Stay Anywhere In A Motorhome

Are you asking: Can I stay anywhere in a motorhome? When travelling in a motorhome or campervan, it is important to know where you are able to stop and stay. We look at the options available in the UK. 

Motorhome owners are extremely familiar with local authorities and overnight parking regulations. This article is for you if you're planning your next motorhome trip and do not know the wild camping laws. 

Can you park up anywhere in a motorhome?

When you park overnight in your motorhome or campervan, there are strict laws you must adhere to. Most land is owned by someone, meaning you cannot park on it freely. Private land is not home to motorhome travellers where explicit permission has not been sought, and the same goes for car parks. This is for all supermarket car parks, pub car parks and the like.

Wild camping laws throughout most of the UK and Europe are similar, outlining you cannot park your motorhome for overnight stays without the landowner's permission. If you do not ask for permission, you are liable for a fine from the local authority.

Throughout England and Wales, motorhome wild camping is advised to only happen on campsites or with permission from the landowner. In Scotland, the Land Reform Act 2003 allows travellers to park their camper vans on most unenclosed lands and caravan sites.

Asking for permission for any land you are unsure of is always a good practice to get into, though. The Scottish outdoor access code outlines wild camping as a non-motorised recreation and does not allow cooking, camping and sleeping in parked caravans. 

Generally, wherever you park, try to follow the rule "leave only footprints, take only photographs" - meaning you should make any overnight parking spots look as if you were never there, taking all rubbish with you in the morning. 

Campervan Overnight Parking

You may believe you can stay overnight in any car park or space or even pull up on the roadside. Campervan overnight parking is not allowed on any site; you must either stay at a camping site or somewhere with permission.

If you ignore this, there is every chance an angry official or police offer will awake you and kick you off the land or fine you. Campervan parking laws and the small fees for parking are much more manageable than being fined for parking somewhere you shouldn't.

If you are staying overnight somewhere for more than a day, don't chance it - always book into an official motorhome park. Residential areas are also not a place to park, as residents will not be happy you have parked your large motorhome on their road.

Of course, if you know the homeowner or give them advance warning, some people will be polite enough to let you park there for the night.

The last thing you should do is assume you can park somewhere without checking. If you browse the web and do your research, you can discover some free overnight motorhome parking locations, but many have rules on maximum vehicle weight and other restrictions.

You can typically choose from lorry parks to farm shops, depending on what you prefer. We advise you always plan your route ahead of time and plan your sleeping location, never choosing a public road to camp on.

This tempts most people after hours of driving, but taking a moment to find suitable parking can stop you from being fined.

Can I Stay Anywhere In A Motorhome?

Campervan Parking laws in the UK

So many campervan travellers get caught out because of the parking laws in the UK. While they are commonplace for some people, understanding the lesser advertised parking laws for your next motorhome trip can save you time and money. The Land Reform Act 2003 outlines that you must not block any entrances to buildings or fields with your vehicle, including overnight parking.

Parking motorhomes must also take into account the safety of other drivers and pedestrians, meaning don't take your vehicle off-road into the verge where you could cause damage to others. Always use an overnight car park or attain permission from the land owner where possible.

Another law, the Road Traffic Act 1988, outlines that you cannot drive a motor vehicle on walking paths, bridleways or any land not part of a road without lawful authority. Campervan owners cannot park on private property without permission, which includes laybys. These are subject to road traffic regulation orders and legislation.

Off-road parking of motorhomes on verges is unlawful and cannot be done. Always read signage carefully when you believe you are on private property. Another rule of thumb is to take all waste with you unless waste disposal facilities are provided on-site. You can find yourself in trouble if you do leave litter, but you're also ruining the location for other travellers arriving. 

How does overnight parking differ from wild camping?

A motorhome and campervan completing an overnight stop in somewhere, not a campsite, are referred to as wild camping. This is popular among campervan travellers who want to get off the beaten track for one night or longer.

How off-grid you want to get is up to the individual, as many National Parks have wild camping spaces. The Lake District is a popular option for those across the country.

Wild camping is so popular as a cost-effective camping solution. With many great places to visit, you are absolutely in for a treat when you awake near a beautiful lake or mountain.

However, wild camping is not always perfectly legal - meaning you cannot do it anywhere in the UK. If you are going on a road trip and would like to wild camp, always ask the closest establishment or the nearest landowner.

In more remote areas, this will be challenging to park your motorhome and other vehicles, so avoid parking up for the night until you have permission.

Throughout many countries in Europe, you can expect to be more accommodated as a motorhome user. Designated overnight parking has been established, even in more remote places.

Many are equipped with facilities such as drinking water, grey water disposal and electricity to hook up to your motor vehicle.

Many great resources are scattered on the web about wild camping laws and advice from other travellers, providing aid on where to buy the best tents and locations you must visit. 


Can you legally live in a motorhome?

No UK laws stop you from living full-time in your motorhome, as long as you are fully road legal and have recently passed your MOT. You should definitely educate yourself on the parking laws across the UK before you begin your road trip, as most land is typically owned by someone and cannot be camped on without prior permission.

It is not your legal right to park where you'd like, and you can be thrown off the land if you have not asked. However, the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act (along with recent legislation covering "gypsies") does provide travellers with some protection.  Living in campervans is a great way to explore many places at once but does require a level of common sense.

Campers who want to get away and explore nature choose motorhomes as that's their best bet at travelling the country at their own pace. To stay safe, always make yourself aware of where you are permitted to park and camp before arriving. There's nothing worse than sleeping during an overnight break and being awoken by an angry landowner. 

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