Europe feature slowlivingactivism vanlife

Making everybody welcome

April 6, 2021

Since we began travelling across Europe we’ve become much more aware of how hard British communities work to keep travellers out. Height restriction barriers, No Overnight Parking signs, even Flintshire’s recycling centres now demand proof that you have an address in Flintshire before they’ll let you take your rubbish and recycling there – what on Earth do they think people will do with it if refused entry? They can’t eat it. So you’ll end up with roadside dumps and another vicious circle will ensue. 

Every other country on the mainland is aware that people travel through their lands and consequently make provisions: 24-48hr free parking, water stations that usually cost around €2 for 100L, places to dump toilet waste, recycling and waste facilities. 

You might think ‘why should we pay for these services?’ But this doesn’t take into account the value transient people bring to a place – those who’re touring as part of their holiday visit monuments, bars, restaurants, farmers markets, delis, clothes shops etc etc, and spend money on all sorts of attractions. These people often have high spending power and will also stay in campsites as part of their trip. 

Then you have the full-timers like us who’re not big spenders but who still feed into the local economy wherever we are. Personally I’d be happy to pay for water, if only we could find it. Not facilitating our existence doesn’t make us go away. 

A thought occurred to me this morning – if everyone who owns a camper in the UK lobbied their local council to earmark a small car park on the outskirts of town, equip it out with a water station, electric hook ups, and toilet waste dumps (like the French Aires), then there’d be a host of them springing up in no time. 

We are only ever guests on this land that we all inhabit – finding ways to make as many people welcome as possible should be the aim. Shouldn’t it? 

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