How to Find a Good Free Parking Spot
Many people have asked us over the years for advice and tips about the places we’ve visited – and also tips on how to find a good free parking spot for our van.
I’ll share with you our experiences on how we managed to find (at almost 99%) great places where we find to spend the night safely and with beautiful surroundings. This is for mainly for Europe, with a bit of Canada thrown in.
Let’s start with the online method. I simply use Google Maps for finding the right spot. I check the map from the top, using a satellite view. We usually like to stay near water (a river, a lake or the seaside), so I try to focus my search from above with water in mind.
Why do I use the satellite view? Because what you see are pictures taken from above, and if you zoom in, you can really have a good idea on what the place looks like. Be sure to check if there are also other cars parked, or any signs that tell you the road to get there is ok.
For example, this is a screenshot from Google Maps of a place I spotted last week and where we spent a couple of nights As you can see, there is a road that goes towards the final destination (it’s always a good sign, grin) and you can also see some campervans just on the seashore. This told me it’s possible to reach that place, even for a bigger campervan.
I saved the place on the map and I got directions to get there. The only thing that you can’t read from the top view is how difficult the road might be. It’s always a surprise factor. That place was pretty steep, but we managed to get down and even come back (which isn’t always easy).
There’s another thing that a few times made it pretty impossible for travel, though you don’t see it from the top: barriers. Sometimes, because the resolution is not that detailed, to see fences or barriers in the road. We’ve taken a nice road that leads us to a wonderful spot but… we had to do a U-turn just in front of a gate.
It’s really not so complicated to find a nice place, my best advice is just to try.
The second online option for finding a good (and free) spot where to park for the night is with an App. Actually there more than one nowadays. You download the App and you can check places – from campgrounds to free spots and supermarket parking (which we really don’t like to do often).
Here’s a list of existing Apps that you can use to find your spot:
The offline option is easy as well: just ask the locals. They know the area better for sure, as well the rules and such, so many times (especially when in big cities) I usually ask local of the same neighborhood. If it’s safe at night; if there’s a park nearby (for our dog); if there’s a fountain or any other place where we can get water; where’s the supermarket; and all extra info we need to know about the area.
Most times locals know great spots, hidden from the main touristic streaming and we’ve had a lot of good tips. If you’re in a big town, always check for parking lines next to the sidewalk/pavement: blue, yellow and white usually. If you don’t know the difference, just ask locals again – for sure you don’t want to find a ticket on your windshield in the morning.
Do you have a different way to find a nice spot for night parking? Let us know in the comments below on how you find a good free parking spot, we’d love to add to our list. Safe travels and safer parking!