Rolling into a new town / field / site/ situation every day takes a certain amount of planning. We (William & Elizabeth) need to identify an area to park which meets our needs; Dixie prefers a flat surface (no falling out of bed thanks), on public land, a safe, quiet spot preferably not near a pub (drunk people have a strange habit of banging on things like vans) and proximity to whatever it is we are planning to visit nearby. An amazing view to enjoy with our coffee at breakfast is a bonus but it’s not always a reality. Sometimes we sacrifice one thing for another.
Google maps is a great tool to identify a potential parking spot from above. Once we decide where Dixie is driving to, we check out the area to research what is worth seeing, and zoom out from there! Easy, right? Sometimes, not so straight forward, especially if we arrive at our potential destination in the dark of night. What appeared from above to be a carpark on the seashore might actually be a big flat tidal pool or a freshly laid playground. Sat Nav isn’t always up to date, that road may be closed off, or a new row of houses sprung up, or worse, one evening we bedded down happily, tucked away in the corner of a big empty lot, only to discover at 6am we were sleeping in a very active construction site…
Sometimes we get lucky, like overnighting right in front of the fabled smallest house in Britain, or in a perfect (and empty) little lay-by deep into Cheddar Gorge, or accidentally finding ourselves parked up beside Castlerigg Stone Circle, a 5,000 year old Neolothic site, older than the pyramids of Giza! We even stealthed our way onto Blackpool Promenade overnight (a big NO NO for campers) and heard the rollercoasters. Waking up to the red sandy beach of Paignton was a treat too.
As we are seeing so many new places, often wandering aimlessly around all day, it’s so easy to lose track of where we are. Imagine losing track of where Dixie is… yes, it has happened. And losing your house once is one time too many! Luckily, there’s an app for that too.
In 2 months of full-time van life, parking at night has not presented many problems. As the nice policeman told us in Danebury, there is nothing illegal about sleeping in your vehicle, and we take extra care to read the signs, obey the rules and not be a nuisance to the locals. That’s the beauty of Dixie, if we are told to move along, we will happily move along.
If our preferred site doesn’t work out for us, we venture a little further outside the town or city until we are satisfied Dixie will be safe. Sometimes we end up in a better spot anyway! Like every other aspect of vanlife, flexibility is key. Don’t get your heart set on one thing and you won’t be disappointed! After all, everything we need to be warm and comfortable is inside Dixie, and with the doors and windows sealed and insulated for the evening, there could be a zombie apocalypse happening outside for all we know. There’s not, is there?? 😨