What to know if you go free camping

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With the arrival of the good weather and the holidays around the corner, many of us start to daydream about our next travelling adventure. In fact, there are as many possible travel adventures as travellers in the world: exotic, rural, beach, mountain, luxury, economic, planned to detail or improvised. At unuk we still feel the adventurous side of travelling, so for this article we touch on the more romantic side of travelling. What does it consist of? To hang a backpack over your shoulders, get that camping tent out and forget about hotel reservations. Will you come along?

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When we talk about camping we do not refer to the simple fact of going camping, but to recover something of the nomadic character of our ancestors and travel with an open mind to some improvisation and freedom when choosing where to sleep each day. There is an increasing number of places that allow this type of overnight stays, which considerably reduces costs among those who are anxious to travel but do not have a high budget allocated for it. Not everyone is prepared, of course, for this type of travel — it’s not for everybody. But because at unuk we don’t like preconceptions or self-build mental barriers, here we bring you a good handful of basic tips for those who dare to try. Here they go:

Don’t cheap out on the equipment

Today it is possible to find really cheap camping equipment that will get us out of a last-minute excursion or a specific need. But when planning a trip of a certain duration in which the camping will be our way to spend the night, it should be indispensable to organize a good camping tent for safety and comfort reasons. The same thing applies to accessories such a good sleeping bag. It is not the same to sleep one or two nights than ten — and your body will thank you for that consideration.

The type of terrain where we plan to camp as well as the climate are two fundamental aspects when choosing both tent and sleeping bag. Just as much as their capacity and the ease of transport them. Some alternative or complementary items are travel sheets and liners, sleeping mats, inflatable pillows and even hammocks. You can check some of them at our ‘Sleeping‘ section.

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Check local regulations regarding wild camping

There is no universal law over free encampment — not even at the European level. So it is advisable to investigate what can and can’t be done in the country or countries that we will be visiting in our trip. It’s worth noticing that there is some general flexibility as far as natural parks are concerned. With more or less restrictions, in most of them there are places prepared for free camping where supervision system is implemented and basic necessities are covered.

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Not so much if our intention is to camp in cities or beaches. Here, the subject of free camping is not so easy since there are many more countries that prohibit it. In this link you will find the list of European countries where free camping is allowed, those where is not and those with certain restrictions. In France, without looking further, free camping is permitted as long as the tent is pitched more than one kilometre away from a historical point, ten kilometres from a drinking water fountain and the camp is cleared before 9 am. In other countries, however, it is prohibited as in Italy, which only allows free camping at over 2,500 meters in height. Yet, a country like Iran allows free camping in any public space inside the city: squares, parks… quite the scene during public holidays there.

Choosing the terrain

It’s not the same, of course, to camp in a city than in the forest or at the beach. And that’s why these things must be taken into account as evident as they might sound. One should pay special attention to the rise and fall of the tides in case of spending the night on a beach. Same goes for valleys or dry water streams when there is the possibility of floods when camping near a river in the middle of nature. Strong wind in the desert and the possibility of landslides is something to be alert of if we opt to camp on the side of a mountain. And we should not disregard possible thunderstorms or torrential rains in the middle of the forest, or the heavy traffic in urban areas. To improvise is not to become unconcerned or unaware. And when it comes down to free camping many factors come into play that, although obvious and simple, are often overlooked.

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Safety

At unuk we believe that people are, generally speaking, kind hearted. Travelling in free camping should not be more dangerous and insecure than travelling any other way. But it’s not unreasonable to say that we are more vulnerable than in other overnight setups. So pitching your tent next to other campers is a good way to get shelter. In a city or in the middle of nature it’s useful to be seen around and to interact with other travellers or locals to establish a certain relationship of approach and proximity. To leave the anonymity aside and generate a bond with fellow humans that makes us feel more in sync and protected.

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Being civilized

Behaving in a civil manner is essential when travelling, no matter what type of travel or traveller you are. But if we talk about free camping, this concept takes even more importance. And with more significance if our place of destination is a natural park. Our stay should be noted as little as possible. Namely, collect all waste, do not destroy protected areas and control possible fires. Our actions can not only damage the environment, but also affect in the short run the plans of other travellers who may be affected by a change in regulations due to incidents caused by others.

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Freedom and respect, two basic concepts and our essential recommendation if we consider camping during our trip. And of course embracing a nomadic spirit. All three are essential ingredients that cannot be missing in our backpack. Do you have them all? We bet you do. So now all you have to do is decide your next destination and let your adventure begin.

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Happy travels!

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