The age old question, pondered by millions of van dwellers each day "where can I park for free or cheap?"
Depending on which country you're in the answer will always be different. We have experience in Canada so we want to share our experience and tips with you.
The obvious free parking is on the streets, but it's not always easy. It's against by-law in most areas because of this it's generally not a comfortable choice. We decided to avoid this one when possible and go for legal options that allow us to cook outside and leave our doors open for ventilation on hot Summer nights.
- Park in Walmart: oh well... it's free, yes, and its always easy to find a store with no rough roads but you have to love concrete landscapes. It's not our favourite option but it is a plan C that its always available. Park in Walmart has pros and cons. Pros: almost all let you park overnight, easy access, easy to find and free wifi. Also you have a huge supermarket in case you need something and have washrooms from 7 am to 11 pm in most cases. Contras: noise, people, cars around, less secure and night time bathroom trips.
On this website you can check the Walmart parking overnight status: http://www.allstays.com/c/wal-mart-locations.htm
- Free Recreation sites - campground: Here is the adventure!!! hahaha We have fond stories and bad ones about this type of campground. On one hand you could find an awesome hidden site in the middle of the forest next to a beautiful lake in complete solitude, what we would call an Eden. Or.... up up up a crazy rough forestry road, lost in the middle of nowhere only to find a crappy camp or even worse, access closed or nothing... but, that's the mystery and adventure we crave in our travels, if not, how boring!!! ;)
That's one of the reasons we made this website, to make new reviews about these places. They are hard to find and sometimes you have descriptions from 10 years ago.
- Low fee Recreation sites - campground: When we talk about low fee it's around the $10 to $20 mark. This price could be ok when they have easy access, nice scenery and at least a water tap. They usually have a fire-pit and pit toilet, rarely showers, but you can make your own DIY shower if they provide a water tap ;). They are well maintained (depending on the operator). So when you don't have to many free options this could be the best plan B. Remember to bring cash!
For these last two options you can find more info in the book "Camp free in BC" (only BC, Canada) http://www.hikingcamping.com/camp-free-bc.php ,
or this websites: for BC too http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/default.aspx
and for all over the country: http://freecampsites.net/
- Providential/National Park camps and Private RV sites: These sites are our super emergency option or sometimes used to gain a great Sunset/rise location or justified if they have free showers and laundry (saving cost else where). Costing between $20 and $60 a night depending on amenities these types of camps are generally characterized by (but not limited to) families with large RV's, loud kids, generators and less private sites. Don't get us wrong these sites are great for some people but are out of our usual scope for choosing a camp site.