Everything you need to know to plan for a campervan road trip

Chapter 5: Finding places to stay

Published: 22-10-2019



Finding places to stay

A few common options

Finding a place to sleep during a road trip is among the top questions in the forum. Depending on your budget and the country or region explored, you may want to consider the follow options.

  • Campsites: This is a cheap and relatively comfortable solution because you will be able to use facilities—typically power, showers, toilets, drinking water, common areas, swimming pool, tables, etc. Prices vary greatly depending on the area and on how “luxurious” the campsite is.
  • Caravan parks/RV parks: The site itself is usually fairly bleak, in most countries we’re talking a giant parking lot dedicated to RVs equipped with basic facilities (toilets, showers).
  • Free campsites: It’s usually illegal to camp anywhere you like but some national, state, provincial or municipal parks have free designated areas for campers. Make sure to follow instructions and don’t expect much in terms of facilities.
  • Rest areas: These small parking lots next to the road (and usually outside cities) are designed for a quick stop but you may be able to stay overnight. Basic facilities usually include drinking water, toilets and picnic tables. There are tons of rest areas in Australia, for instance.
  • Wild camping: If you’re self-sufficient it’s tempting to stop in what seems to be the middle of nowhere and stay overnight. However, it’s often illegal. In Australia and New Zealand, the police and rangers do patrol around and you could be fined (we’re talking hundreds or thousands of dollars here, it ain’t cheap!). Pay attention to “no camping” or “no overnight stay” signs. There are areas where wild camping is okay, check beforehand.
  • Hostels: If you’re venturing into urban areas you will probably have to park somewhere and spend the night in a hostel—enjoy the shared kitchen and bathrooms! Sure, it’s going be noisier than in your van but it’s a great way to meet other travellers and get tips for future stops. Staying in a hostel is almost a rite of passage, so enjoy the moment. Not sure what to expect? Read In my hostel…!

Spotlight on the “honesty box” system

Don’t be surprised if you find a few “honesty boxes” along the way, especially in rural areas in Canada, the US and Australia. This is a method for charging for a service or a product when the site is unattended. For instance, you may have to put the campsite fee in an envelope and write your name on it, then drop it into a box. Eventually, someone will collect them (during your stay or much later). The system also works for fresh produce at the roadside—fruits, homemade jam, etc. Pick what you want and drop payment into a box. And in case you were wondering, it does work! People are more responsible than you’d think. Make sure to play by the rules and always carry change with you.

Chapter 5 of 13


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