City campering

We’ve not done this before, so there’s loads to learn! As we explained in the last post, we are currently committed to some projects in London so will be based here for a while. This has given us the opportunity to form questions about staying in a camper in a city. We thought we’d share those questions, and some solutions we’ve discovered so far with you. Any advice, information, experiences, and anecdotes, are more than welcome. We will of course be sharing ours as we go along…

Q: Where are the best parking spots for campers in a metropolitan space?

From the research we’ve done it seems there is no national legislation forbidding sleeping overnight at roadsides etc. There are local bylaws, however, that should be checked dependent on the area. These places will be sign posted.
We also found this great site with lots of information, including correspondence with government agencies asking about regulations, and links to all council parking pages. Well done guys!
We’re aware that lawful or not, some people just don’t like it, and have researched some threads from residents perspective – which tend to be complaints where a campervan has been parked for extended periods of time, causing obstruction, or creating some sort of public nuisance – none of which we intend to do. However, it does seem to prove that as long as the vehicle is legally taxed and properly parked, the police won’t interfere, which is reassuring.

Q: Where are the best/cheapest places to refill gas bottles?

We found this Camping Gas Directory but if anyone has any tips on finding places by sight, rather than looking them up, let us know.

Q: Where to recharge electrics?

This turned out to be easier to find than we thought, as there as loads of websites and phone apps that tell you where all the EV charge points are and even what type of connectors they have. We will be installing solar panels at some point, but for now this does seem a viable option. Does anyone have experience with using networks such as ‘source’ to charge their camper leisure batteries?

Q: How do we dispose of waste matter in a city?

Grey water: It seems as though it’s common practice to discreetly dispose of grey water down a storm drain, while we certainly wouldn’t do so if we used any chemicals as they can end up in waterways, since we don’t using any chemicals at all for any purpose, we may consider this option if absolutely necessary. However, if we need to go to a site for other purposes we will dispose of grey water while there.

Black water: We have so far come up blank with city black waste disposal sites for public use, so we will be using public toilets as much as possible and emptying the cassette in similar ways (again common practice we’ve read) on occasion when needed.

General Rubbish:  We will find public recycling points for our rubbish, this is something we do even when out for a day so feel confident it won’t be a difficulty.

Food waste: We’re thinking city farms might be agreeable to allowing us to add small amounts to their compost piles? Any ideas?

Q: Where can we fill our water tank?

Unfortunately the UK doesn’t do aires, though we have found a map of ‘permitted overnight stopovers‘ that includes information for each place so we’ll be looking into those more as we move around. It has also been suggested to us that canals would be a good place to look; facilities that exist for house boats may be accessible to us. We will also see whether filling up at gas stations is something they allow. And if all else fails then we can stop at a campsite every now and again to fill up clean water and dispose of waste.

Q: What are the security options to consider?

We’re installing a security system with an alarm, GPS tracking, etc. but we wonder if anyone has practical advice on things like leaving solar chargers in windows, personal security without carrying ‘weapons’, or any other useful tips?

Q: What other public resources can we make use of?

It would be great to hear your ideas and experiences with this.

Q: How will Londoners respond to us rocking up on their street? Will trying out this kind of living offer us a new perspective on the city?

It’ll be pretty exciting to figure these things out, piecing together a new side of city life.

Staying in a campervan in a city like London will be interesting in itself. Besides the moral and practical reasons mentioned in a previous post for remaining here, we are curious to see how our lives continue to change while remaining in the same place. Without four stone walls and a flick-of-a-switch connection to the grid that can partition us off from the rest of the city, we think we’ll feel much more embedded and in touch with our surroundings. We are already noticing how familiar environments can feel different when viewed from a new perspective that allows the freedom to enjoy it differently. Here are some of our thoughts:

  • Being able to locate ourselves near activities (work or social) that we would normally spend hours traveling to and from will give us more time.
  • No longer feeling oppressed by the idea that we are forced to work just to survive, will give us more mental space.
  • Having more mental space means we can make better use of time. And the combination of more time and mental space will result in having more energy to really connect to life.
  • We’ll be able to focus on what matters to us, without the mental distractions caused by spending energy on things that aren’t meaningful to us.
  • We can connect more to the mechanisms of life, including the objects we use, rather than forgetting about the things that go into making them or making them work.
  • Our surroundings become more beautiful because we have time to notice them.
  • We engage with people more.
  • We are learning more about the waste that occurs around us: how to avoid contributing to it, and also use what others throw away.

As you can see we’re very excited at the prospect, and to celebrate, we’ll be writing our first instructable for off grid DIY solutions; so keep an eye out for that coming soon. Thanks in advance for any input!


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