One thing we’ve noticed in our camping travels in the Trigano is that Spain is far more motor home friendly than the UK. The only height barriers seem to be on underground car parks, and if you should take up a couple of parking spaces, nobody worries. Better still, you usually don’t have to pay for the privileges.
Another plus is that there are plenty of places where you can pitch up for free – or ‘wild camp’ as it’s called in the trade. However, as with all things, there are always people who will extract the urine, and then more than likely, the police will be called in to move them along. Illegal campers can expect to face a hefty fine on the spot fine, and/ or have their vehicle impounded, so it’s worth knowing the law in Spain before you pitch up and pour the wine.
So, how can you be sure the idyllic setting you’ve chosen to pitch for the night – or maybe a few nights – is not going to work out more expensive than if you’d paid for a full facility site? Quite simply, it all rests on whether you’re parking or camping.
In Spain, it is illegal to discriminate against motor home drivers. That means that local authorities cannot prevent motor homes from parking anywhere other vehicles are permitted to park. That said, all vehicles must adhere to all local parking guidelines. If you park in a residential street, for example, you can stay for as long as local regulations allow, but you must leave your vehicle within the marked area. That also goes for parking spaces on car parks. Keep within the marked out spaces, even if you need to occupy two or three bays to accommodate your rig. It’s fine to spread across the bays any way you like – the Spanish are much more relaxed about parking than the Brits.
Once your motor home is parked up and the engine is turned off, you can eat in it, sleep in it, or do whatever takes your fancy and doesn’t frighten the natives or require the presence of the emergency services. However, if you roll out the awning, or set up tables and chairs, it constitutes camping, and that is illegal. In other words, if you park beachside and get the generator out, line up your satellite dish for EastEnders and set the table for paella, you are breaking the law in Spain. It’s also illegal to dispose of waste water anywhere other than at a designated disposal point.
Use wild camping wisely, and always think parking rather than camping. If you want to get your tables and chairs out in the sun, then take them to the beach or into the forest. Don’t set up your tapas table in the street or in front of somebody’s casa. That’s plain good manners anyway, isn’t it?
Another possible solution when you need to stop but there isn’t a camp site or anywhere suitable within miles is to park up for the night at a ‘Venta.’ That’s an independent roadhouse, serving food and maybe also offering accommodation and showers. As long as you buy a meal, you should be able to park up overnight for free. In many ventas, a home cooked meal for two will probably cost less than a night on a campsite anyway. It’s a good alternative if you’re late parking up, or if you want to get away early in the morning rather than hanging around to explore the area.
Just remember you’re parking not camping, so don’t break out the collapsible rotary drier and wash your smalls in the car park. That might put the locals off their dinner, and the venta owner won’t appreciate it!
Whenever you’re looking for an overnight stop with your motor home in Spain, remember to stay within the law and be people friendly. Park where you won’t cause obstruction, or annoyance or disturbance to others. When you think about it, it all boils down to good manners and common sense.
The information for this article comes from the N332 Facebook Page and website. You’ll find lots more useful information about driving in Spain there, so it’s worth bookmarking for future reference.