Can you camp anywhere? Here’s why you shouldn’t.
There is nothing better than a camping trip to reconnect with nature and get in touch with your wild side. It offers the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the chaos of modern life and be at one with the elements.
Of course, while fully-equipped campsites and “glamping” options are increasingly popular, wild camping (a term used to describe any type of camping that takes place outside of a regular campsite) also has its own appeal. For many, this is a more authentic experience, as it’s just you, your gear and the great outdoors.
However, wild camping poses a number of questions to be answered before you set off on your adventure. Can you camp anywhere? Is wild camping legal? What should I have with me before I set off? What alternatives are there to wild camping?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking if you are hoping to set off on your own journey into the wild. Furthermore, you should always ask yourself why you think wild camping is a good idea for you, as there may be better options available. For example, there has never been a greater number of campsites that allow you to truly embrace nature than there are today, meaning you can get your authentic camping experience, while also enjoying the safety and security of a campsite.
Still unsure about whether you should go wild camping or not? Read on to find out more, and discover a number of top alternatives for your next journey into the wilderness!
Useful information about wild camping
So, can you camp anywhere? There is plenty you need to be aware of before you even consider setting out on a wild camping trip.
What is wild camping?
Wild camping is the name given to putting up a tent and spending the night in an area of wilderness, that is, outside of an official campsite, caravan park, or seasonal event, such as a festival. This idea has become more popular in recent times due to its romantic and eco-friendly appeal; however, in many cases it is not legal and the idea that it is environmentally friendly should be questioned.
Is wild camping the same as boondocking?
Boondocking is a popular term that has a similar meaning to wild camping; however, it is more used in the United States by owners of RVs and motorhomes. Other similar terms include dispersed camping, which is commonly used in the United States; dry camping, which refers to the lack of available running water; backcountry camping, which usually implies a certain amount of hiking to your chosen location; and stealth camping, which applies to finding unlikely camping spots in urban areas.
What is the appeal of wild camping?
For many people, wild camping provides a more authentic experience of being closer to nature, as you are not restricted or confined by a traditional campsite. Furthermore, it allows you to choose precisely where you want to set up camp and spend your holiday. However, with an increasing number of campsites of all types and sizes, it is possible to have the same experience without resorting to wild camping.
The legal status of wild camping in France
If you are interested in trying what is known locally as “le camping sauvage”, you’re in luck. According to French law, wild camping is generally permitted, but only with the permission of the landowner or tenant. There are various places where wild camping is not permitted, such as on the coast or at historical sites. In conclusion, “le camping sauvage” is allowed in theory but it is advisable to confirm permission for any particular spot.
Is wild camping suitable for families?
Wild camping is not recommended for families, for safety reasons. Furthermore, it goes without saying that camping in the wilderness means no access to facilities that are now considered standard at campsites, such as toilets, showers, and baby-changing rooms. To put it simply, wild camping is not really suitable for families and should only be attempted by people with plenty of experience and lots of knowledge about the local area.
What equipment do I need to camp anywhere?
Of course, the first thing to think about is shelter, so you will need a tent, bedding and all the associated equipment. You should also bear in mind that you will not have access to facilities that you can expect at a campsite, such as drinking water or electricity, so it’s important to prepare for this and carry sufficient water and any cooking and battery-operated appliances you might need with you.
Written permission for wild camping
If your heart is set on wild camping, then a good way of being sure that you can legally stay where you want to is by getting written permission from the landowner. This process is not easy, but express permission is a good way of being sure that you will have no problems with the authorities.
Leave No Trace
The principle of Leave No Trace is important if you are thinking of setting off on a wild camping adventure. This means that you leave the land where you stayed in exactly the same condition as you found it, free from litter, remnants of fire and any other pollution that could disturb the wildlife there.
Benefits of staying at a campsite over wild camping
Wild camping, therefore, is not for the majority of people, but that’s no reason to be disappointed. Campsites offer plenty of benefits over a wild camping experience.
Be a friend to the environment
The Leave No Trace principle is a central tenet of outdoor ethics; however, wild campers have often been guilty of not respecting the environments in which they stay, leaving litter or other pollutants. By staying at a campsite, you can be sure that you are supporting an organisation that is responsible for their patch of land. Furthermore, you can choose a campsite with particularly “green” credentials, such as those with sustainable energy providers.
Safety and security
Without a doubt, wild camping comes with some risks, not only in terms of legal problems but also in terms of unknowingly staying in an area that poses dangers. By staying at a campsite, you don’t have to worry about these problems and can rely on the on-site staff to help with any issues. Despite this, you can still enjoy the magic of waking up amongst nature and a welcome break from city life.
Camping is a great getaway for families, but wild camping in a small tent without facilities or entertainment is very full-on with children! Staying at a campsite is a great way of enjoying a holiday in the open air in a way that is much more simple and straightforward, for kids and parents. Tip: if going on a camping holiday with children, stay at one of the many campsites that are specifically designed for young families, with all the necessary facilities and attractions.
Get some well-earned rest
Many want their holiday to be a relaxing getaway, and wild camping can often be anything but! After doing all the necessary research and requests to ensure you are not breaking the law by camping in the countryside, you then need to set up camp in a terrain that may not be particularly comfortable. Campsites take away this stress, letting you lie back, relax, and enjoy everything that nature has to offer.
Plan your visit
Veteran campers will know perfectly well how unpredictable elements (mainly the weather) can dramatically change their plans. This is especially true of wild camping, where finding a suitable spot can be almost impossible in some conditions. While campsites cannot guarantee good weather, they do provide a base camp with a certain level of comfort, facilities and protection from the elements, which lets you plan your camping trip and your exploration of the nearby area with more security.
Frequently asked questions about wild camping alternatives
If you still have some doubts over your next camping trip, take some time to read the following frequently asked questions about traditional vs wild camping.
Can I really get close to nature at a campsite?
One of the attractions of wild camping is the perception that it allows you to stay closer to nature and fantastic scenery, such as waterfalls and dense forests. However, you can find many campsites that offer just that, while also providing fully-equipped plots where you can set up base for the night. If you want to stay right among nature, simply look for a campsite that lets you do just that, in safety.
Can a campsite be as exciting as wild camping?
While wild camping seems a great choice for adrenaline junkies, a run-in with the law isn’t the kind of thrill everyone wants. Instead, identify a campsite that offers easy access to a number of local activities, which means you can fill your stay from start to finish. You can still go hiking, mountain-biking or rock-climbing; but you get to have a hot shower and a cold beer afterwards too!
What about children?
There are plenty of campsites now that offer a number of services just for young families – something that wild camping simply cannot offer. This includes children’s clubs, a great way for young ones to make friends during their camping trip, and fun activities including swimming pools and water slides. While wild camping may seem like a thrilling experience, there is plenty for children to love at a traditional campsite.
What can a campsite offer that wild camping can’t?
One of the main problems with wild camping is that you often need to stay near to your site to keep an eye on your belongings, or carry a lot with you. Campsites offer a much more reliable “base camp” for your trip, meaning you can set up your tent and then go away on day-trips to nearby cities or attractions. This is perfect for a holiday that offers the best of both worlds: the country and the city.
What other benefits are there for traditional campsites?
As already mentioned, wild camping is not legal in many countries around the world, meaning that you will be missing out on staying in some incredible places if you choose to only go wild camping. By staying at a campsite, you can find some amazing settings for your next camping trip in any country around the world (that you can get to with your tent), without having to worry about any problems with local authorities.
Discover top campsites for your next wild adventure today!