For us, the definition of a free camping is a place where we overnight out in the open. The place should not be specially arranged for camping, or be a place you pay for to camp at. Such places instead fall under the category RV-sites. In Sweden we have the fantastic tradition of “allemannsrätt”, which allows us to move freely in the forest and in the wild, as long as we do not disturb or destroy. However, it is important to consider as a camper that the right of public access does not include camping vehicles. In other words, you are not allowed to park the RV anywhere, as you can do with, for example, a tent. Our vehicles and where it is allowed for us to drive and park them are instead governed by the off-road driving law, which is not nearly as generous when it comes to free camping.
Finding a nice place to free camp is almost a sport in itself, we think. Common places we find and like are, rest areas located near a lake. Also, bathing areas and beaches tend to be good options for free camping, although you have to take extra care here to check that it is really allowed to park the RV there. We always respect signs when we are out, as we do not want to invite ourselves in an area where we are not wanted. It is al about respect, and avoiding, according to the right of public access, to disturb. We are also extra careful with the surroundings when we free camp, as we think that if we take care of the site, other RV-drivers may be welcome after us.
Another good tip on how you can find nice free campingsites is if you follow signs for nature reserves. Very often there is a gravel-paved parking, where you can stay overnight. It is also usually nice walking trails adjacent to these places, which allows you to go for a nice morning walk before getting in the RV and moving on to the next adventure.
Below we share some of the places we have found to free camp. Motorhome drivers almost resemble fishermen occasionally, and don’t really want to “reveal” their best spots. But we are happy to share, and we just think it’s great if we can manage to give someone else the same wonderful experience.
Our 3 best tips for successful free camping
- Take extra care with the surroundings. Be sure to try to do what you can to make sure many RV-drivers and other campers are welcome in the future as well. The right of public access “do not disturb, and do not destroy” are very good guidelines.
- Secure the basics
Before you go out to free camping, we recommend that you do an extra check and make sure that you have good access to what you need to have a great stay. We ourselves always check as below:
Water – quite self-explanatory
Food – Nothing will be fun without food, especially in our family.
LPG – especially important in winter. Nobody wants to lie in a camper van without heat in -5C. It’s not funny. Not even a little. And we know that because we’ve light-tested it by letting one gas bottle run out in the middle of the night.
Electricity – on our current RV we have solarpanels that cover the main part of the need. But we recommend, for the modern family, that you also make sure to have some back-up powerbanks to resort to in “emergencies”.
- The location gives the experience and the feeling of freedom
One of the best sides of traveling by RV is just the feeling of freedom. Since we already have everything with us, we are relatively independent of external circumstances, and stay wherever we want. This feeling is perhaps most palpable, when you enjoy a cup of coffee in the early morning where the fog slowly eases over a small lake in the forest of Småland where you are all alone. These are the experiences we hunt when we free camp, and a lot of it is about the location. We are ideally located in places where it is quite far to main roads and traffic, preferably close to water. But what the “right” location is for you, only you can decide of course.