When you overland, you will have to use several methods in order to find wild campsites. I love finding wild camps, and it is probably easiest in countries with good nature and open spaces. However, it can also be done in many places in Europe, but it requires to search a little off the ordinary road – which is exactly why we have a four-wheeler. In Europe, we often go out on minor and bad roads to find a “watering hole” for the night.
Otherwise, if you are in a fairly populated area, the “magic password” is not to be afraid to ask people for permission to camp somewhere – it can at a farm, a sports ground, a restaurant, parking lot, etc. Here, our experience is that people hardly ever say no. Instead, they are very sweet and helpful. We have only experienced one who said no which just resulted in we drove a little bit longer and found an even better place.
In the beginning it can be a big thing to overcome asking permission to camp at someones place. The first time, we tried this as a couple without children, my wife was sure we would not survived the night. We did and the next morning, the family, who we have asked permission, came with homemade cheese and bread for breakfast and we ended up staying one more night.
In Germany, we learned about an app called “Stellplatz-Rader”. It points to places where you can stay in motorhomes for free, and the places are very nice and with great locations. In principle, you must not spend the night in a tent at these places, but we first found out afterwards.
Otherwise, you can use the app “iOverlander” which just shows camp spots, both established camping and wild camps – as well as providing other information and tips to overlanders. We also use the app “park4night” a lot when looking for wild camps.
Another app that we use a lot – properly the one we uses the most – is “Pocket Earth”. Here, you can download offline maps, as well as finding various information such as supermarkeds, gas stations etc. You can also make your own notes, so you remember good places, tips etc. For a man with short time memory this is very handy. Often, through Pocket Earth, I can find or see if a place offers good camping opportunities.
On our way, we also meet people including other overlanders who give us good tips and advises on where to stay.