If you’re on a tight budget you’re going to want to find free places to camp. Several options exist for free camping including BLM land, national forest land and roadside pull offs in rural areas. It’s a good idea to check with local agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Ranger District and visitors centers. If you’re told that there is no free camping in the area you should consult another source. Sometimes people are reluctant to release information about free camping options or they are just unaware that they exist.
With the exception of extremely high traffic areas and national parks, it is possible to find free camping. Don’t expect to be able to camp for free in places like Yosemite or Yellowstone National Park but even in these places you can often camp close to the park for free.
You can look at maps and see where there are roads that access national forest land or BLM land. There are generally free, dispersed camping opportunities to be found.
It is helpful to go to government sites like www.blm.gov or www.fs.usda.gov and do a search for dispersed camping in the area you’re planning on visiting. There are usually a few options listed but often times all of the possible camping is not listed and these sites should not be considered a comprehensive guide.
A lot of free camping options are a good distance form any town or city. It’s a good idea to consider how close to town you need to be. If you’re going to be going into town every day to use internet or other services it may be worth spending $10 or so on camping close to town and save the money on gas.
While there are many camping options, you will need to decide what’s best for you based on your needs. You may want to post up for a week where you have privacy or you may just need a place to sleep for the night. With a little research you will find a good camping site for your van living needs.