Someone Built a Globe-Spanning ‘Google Maps for Campgrounds’

Home is where you park it

February 14, 2018 9:00 am

Go far, far north on the Isle of Lewis — a low-lying islet off Scotland’s west coast — and you’ll find a shower.

It’s next to a strip of wild-flowered coastline called Reef Beach. It has hot water. And it’s free.

I’ve never been to the Outer Hebrides. But I have spent more than a few minutes getting acquainted with Van Secrets, a fledgling, interactive map ideal for anyone on the hunt for campgrounds, public toilets and showers around the globe.

How does it work? The map is dotted with various color-coded icons. (There’s a helpful legend when you click on the About button.) Basically: green vans signify free, approved spots and yellow vans signify approved spots where you need to pay. Red vans, meanwhile, are the most exciting option: they signify “wild spots,” where you just might get kicked out or fined. Each location, from a yellow van outside Bordeaux to a a green van in the middle of Denmark, will detail activities and amenities in the area.

The project was created by a German-Polish web designer, so most of the plotted sites are in Europe. But anyone can join, and anyone can add a campground (or shower, or toilet). With a little name recognition and time, you should have a safe bet for parking your van … no matter the continent.

Just remember to pack your own body wash.


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