Camping in the Wilderness
Traditional camping in a tent or even a caravan is surely on everyone’s radar. But have you ever tried wild camping? For many people, camping at a campsite isn’t the full immersion they’re looking for. The feeling of being so close to nature, hearing noises in the darkness and breathing the night air attracts thousands of adventurers to wild camping every year. Setting up camp in the wild, deep in the forest or on a secluded beach, is a pipe dream for many nature-lovers.
Unfortunately, there is one little problem intrepid explorers face: wild camping isn’t allowed everywhere. To get that off the grid experience and avoid pricey campsites, a lot of people ignore bans and wild camp anyway. Of course, we won’t encourage you to break the law. Instead, we’ve researched a few countries that allow wild camping for you. Keep in mind that we’re not legal advisors and the law is subject to change. Use these suggestions as inspiration and keep an eye on legal advice in your destination just before your wild camping trip. Be sure to take our handy tips and info with you on your adventure!
Things to Keep in Mind when Wild Camping
As a responsible wild camper, you simply need to remember three basic but important rules:
LEAVE NO TRACE
When the time comes to leave your spot, make sure it looks exactly the way it did when you first arrived there. Nothing is damaged, no rubbish left lying around. After all, you want to preserve the nature you just enjoyed so much. Minimise your time at any given spot to one night to reduce damage and disruption caused by your trip.
PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB
The forest is home to many, often very shy, animals. Try to avoid making noise at all costs. It’s definitely not the right place for a party. You also don’t want to disturb people who could possibly live nearby and be trying to get a good night’s sleep. Generally, you want to arrive late and leave early from your night’s spot.
A bonfire can quickly turn into a bushfire in a dry area. Some woods may seem less dry than they actually are. In any case, it’s important not to endanger nature in any shape or form, so be careful and think about your actions!
Wild Camping in Sweden and Norway
Sweden is home to thousands of square miles of breathtaking scenery and magnificent wildlife. What’s even more special is the low popular density of the largest Nordic country. This means nature remains largely untouched and is just waiting to be explored. And we have great news: thanks to the “Everyman’s Right”, wild camping is allowed in Sweden. The Nordic countries are perfect for those who are into long distance trails. If you’re up to it, the E1 European long-distance path travels the length of Sweden and Norway before crossing to the mainland via the Danish ferry. After an exhausting but rewarding day full of hiking, you can camp out and fall asleep under the stars at some of Europe’s most beautiful natural areas.
Still, there are a few rules to follow. With a bivouac sack, you should be allowed to sleep at most places. A tent shouldn’t be a problem in most cases either, as long as you don’t stay longer than one night, or two at the absolute maximum. Even in Sweden, there are still a few places where wild camping is forbidden. Rule of thumb: you should only camp out where you won’t be visible from people’s homes.
Sleeping in the car or parking your camper van at the side of the streets for a night is also widely possible. As soon as you have a fixed route planned, research where you are allowed to spend a night in nature along the way.
Like Sweden, Norway generally approves of wild camping on grounds of the Everyman’s Right. Here, this right relates specifically to sleeping in a tent. You should, however, stay at least 150 metres away from people’s homes and yards, and not stay for longer than two nights.
Even though Norway is home to more than a thousand campsites, a night of wild camping is absolutely worth it in this beautiful country. You can truly be at one with nature here, a nature that’s made up of wondrous forests, stunning fjords, towering mountains, and the deep blue sea.
Where Can I Go Wild Camping?
There are many other countries where you’ll mostly be on the side of the law while wild camping, like Scotland. If you want to experience this unique landscape to the fullest, it’s definitely a worthwhile adventure. In Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia you should also be able to spend a night in the wild without any problems.
In other European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, wild camping is restricted in order to protect wildlife. However, even in these countries, there are great alternatives if you do your research. At so-called natural campsites, bivouac-, or trekking sites you can get cosy with nature without having to pay a lot of money. In places like England, where wild camping is banned but camping on private land is legal, it’s worth asking landowners if they’ll let you pitch up on their land.
Hacks for Wild Camping with a Tent
Even if you find yourself in a place that allows wild camping in principle, you should always look for a new spot as soon as any residents feel disturbed. In order to prevent this in the first place, it goes without saying that you should be quiet, not leave rubbish lying around, and always be polite when interacting with locals.
Choose your pitch during the day if possible, so you will get to know your surroundings and be able to determine whether it’s safe, and you’re not bothering any wildlife. Avoid setting up camp on uneven ground, in valleys, or in high or exposed locations. Prioritise safety (stay away from ledges and hallows) and consider sunrise and sunset so you can optimise for the weather!
Preparation is key when it comes to wild camping. Since you will be at the mercy of the weather, be sure to pack appropriate gear. Plan your trip in advance and think about any possible difficulties you might end up facing.
And what if nature calls while you’re out in the wild? Obviously, it’s best to find yourself a bathroom, but let’s be real: there probably won’t be too many of them out in the wilderness. Make sure you’re doing your business away from water sources, to protect the natural systems. For number twos, you’ll have to dig a hole with a shovel and cover it up again once you’ve dropped the kids off. Your toilet paper goes in your bin bag, which you will then take with you and throw in the next bin you find.
Wild Camping Hacks with a Camper Van
Depending on your chosen destination, it is also possible to park your camper van wherever you like. However, you shouldn’t stay directly next to an actual campsite. It’s also best to also avoid nature reserves.
Just like when it comes to camping with a tent, it’s also crucial to be quiet, not overstay your welcome and leave the space the way you found it. Don’t leave any camping chairs, tents, or anything else you might use outside out overnight.
The right to wild camping varies country to country. In Germany and Italy, for example, rules are strict, but natural campsites serve as a suitable alternative. In the North, it’s a whole different story. Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Scotland make your dream of an adventure in the wilderness reality. You should, however, double-check the current state of law before embarking on your journey. Most of the time, you can go wild camping with a tent or a camper van.
In order to respect nearby people and nature, you will have to follow three simple rules. Try not to disturb anyone, don’t be a possible danger to nature, and make sure you leave your chosen camping spot looking like you were never even there.
So, are you ready to cosy up in the wilds, or would you prefer an official campsite? Both options have their advantages and most of it depends on your gear, since a campsite is usually equipped with all relative luxuries which make camping more comfortable. If you’re looking for a tranquil and secluded getaway in nature, wild camping is for you. Whichever option you choose: a camping trip is guaranteed to be a great and refreshing experience.