Something for Nothing? Beginners Guide to Motorhome aires

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Motorhome aires are the killer app of motorhoming. You can park up, somewhere safe, with like-minded people. Empty your waste, fill your water and even recharge your batteries in some sites. Quite often all this is totally free, or nearly free. The locations can be incredible or mundane, or anything in between, but what they all have in common is providing an exciting way to explore Europe.

What exactly is an aire?

A motorhome aire, often simply referred to as an “aire,” is a designated stopping point or parking area specifically designed to accommodate motorhomes and campervans.

Motorhome Aires typically offer basic facilities and amenities tailored to the needs of travelers on the road. While the specific features may vary from one aire to another, common amenities include:

  • Parking Spaces: Designated spaces for motorhomes to park overnight or for a limited duration.
  • Waste Disposal Facilities: Facilities for emptying waste and toilets, as well as disposing of other rubbish responsibly.
  • Fresh Water Access: Access to potable water for refilling water tanks.
  • Electricity Hook-Ups: Some Aires may offer electricity hook-ups for powering appliances and charging batteries.
  • Toilet Facilities: Basic toilet facilities may be available at some Aires, though this varies widely.
  • Picnic Areas: Some Aires provide picnic tables or designated areas for outdoor dining and relaxation.

Aires – Do’s and Don’ts

Like anything that is shared with other people, especially something that is provided at little or zero-cost to you, there is an etiquette that surrounds the use of aires. Most of these are common sense, but it does no harm to mention them here!

  • Do Follow Local Regulations: Adhere to any rules and regulations set by the local authorities or site managers regarding overnight stays, waste disposal, noise levels, and other specific guidelines.
  • Do Respect Others’ Space: Be mindful of your neighbors’ privacy and personal space. Avoid encroaching on neighboring pitches and be considerate when using shared amenities.
  • Do Practice Good Hygiene: Maintain cleanliness in and around your motorhome. Dispose of waste properly, clean up after yourself and your pets, and keep the area tidy.
  • Do Minimize Noise: Be mindful of noise levels, especially during quiet hours. Avoid playing loud music, running generators late at night, or engaging in disruptive activities that may disturb others.
  • Do Support Local Businesses: Patronise local businesses and services in the communities surrounding Aires. This helps support the local economy and fosters goodwill between travelers and residents.
  • Do Leave No Trace: Leave your Aires spot in the same condition (or better) than you found it. Dispose of waste properly, recycle when possible, and avoid littering or damaging the environment.
  • Do Be Considerate: Extend courtesy and consideration to fellow travelers. Offer assistance if needed, share resources when appropriate, and engage in friendly interactions that contribute to a positive atmosphere.
  • Do Leave Feedback: After your stay, consider leaving constructive feedback or reviews about the Aires you visited. Share your experiences, highlight positive aspects, and offer suggestions for improvement.

And the Don’ts…

  • Don’t Overstay Your Welcome: Respect the designated time limits for staying at Aires. Avoid overstaying your welcome and be mindful of other travelers who may be waiting to use the facilities.
  • Don’t Block Access: Avoid blocking access to essential amenities such as water taps, waste disposal facilities, or entrance/exit points. Park your motorhome considerately to ensure easy access for everyone.
  • Don’t Leave Messes Behind: Clean up after yourself and your pets. Avoid leaving litter or waste around your campsite area and dispose of all waste properly in designated facilities.
  • Don’t Disturb Wildlife: Respect nature and wildlife by refraining from feeding animals or disturbing their habitats. Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid actions that may cause harm or disruption.
  • Don’t Ignore Quiet Hours: Respect quiet hours established by the Aires or local regulations. Keep noise levels to a minimum, especially during nighttime hours, to ensure a peaceful environment for everyone.
  • Don’t Ignore Safety Guidelines: Follow safety guidelines provided by the Aires or local authorities. This may include guidelines for fire safety, vehicle parking, or emergency procedures.
  • Don’t Abuse Amenities: Use shared amenities responsibly and considerately. Avoid monopolizing facilities or wasting resources, and be mindful of others who may also need to use them.

Finding aires

In the travel articles in this blog we frequently make reference to the Park4Night app and website. This, is, in my opinion the largest and most comprehensive database of aires available. It allows people to submit new sites, and reviews of existing sites and even photos. You can check the reviews to make sure the site you are thinking of heading to is still ok. The information is pretty fresh as it is constantly being updated.

If you prefer, there are other apps available such as SearchForSites and CamperContact. I have tried some of these, and I always end up back to Park4Night just because of the sheer amount of locations in one app.

Aires are also known as

Motorhome aires are known by lots of names. Here are a few of them:

  • Stellplätze(Germany and Austria)
  • Sostas (Italy)
  • Áreas de Autocaravanas (Spain)
  • Áreas de Serviço (Portugal)

The usual name in France is Aires de Camping-Car, or just aires. This term has now become ubiquitous across the European vanlife community, but the names above are the official names in those countries and what appears on road signs.


Motorhome aires are the closest thing to true vanlife. You just turn up to a parkup, stay for a bit, then up-sticks to the next one. If you don’t like somewhere then just get on your way to another site.

As someone who always used campsites, it took a bit of getting used to, having no concrete plans. After a while though it becomes liberating. We just have a general idea of a direction and a duration, everything else just happens when it happens now.

If you are lucky enough to have the time and a motorhome or camper, then check out this form of traveling. After a while it becomes addictive, and you may never go back to traditional campsites!

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