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Camping in Amsterdam
Camping in a place in Norway

Camping (also camping , from the Latin campus "field") describes a form of tourism . In this case, vacationers spend the night in tents , hammocks , caravans or mobile homes , in roof tents or converted vans . If you camp in tents, one also speaks of tents .

Camping became popular in the early 20th century and is now a widespread form of vacation and travel. There are now opportunities around the world to spend the night on campsites , often in scenic locations (for example in nature and national parks ). Campsites - like some motorhome parking spaces - provide sanitary and electrical supply facilities. There are campsites for every taste, from simple lawns with a wash house to highly comfortable facilities with supermarkets , restaurants , their own swimming pool, as well as TV connections and Internet services (mostly WiFi ). Overnight stays in campsites are usually cheaper than in hotels ; However, the prices have converged in the popular holiday regions and with comfortable offers in the main season. In most countries in Europe Camping is outside on designated facilities ( Wild camping ) is not allowed or only allowed under strict conditions.


A campground in Turkey

The term camping covers a very wide range of activities. What they all have in common is not to spend the night in buildings, but to spend the time in the great outdoors or in facilities that are as close to nature as possible. This includes simple camping in the great outdoors, where the camper only uses simple auxiliary items such as a tent, sleeping bag , cookware and so on, up to staying with highly comfortable caravans or mobile homes on no less comfortable campsites.

Camping can be done for the sake of camping alone. Often, however, it is also associated with sports or other activities such as fishing , swimming , hiking , sightseeing or various other activities on a campsite - for example barbecuing .

Camping can mean spending several weeks on a vacation. But it can also be the preferred form of overnight stay for a traveler. The spectrum ranges from hikers and “backpackers” as well as travelers by bike, motorcycle or boat with correspondingly simple and light camping equipment to campers traveling with caravans or mobile homes.

Long-term camping is a special form of camping. With long-term camping , the camper has permanently settled his caravan on a campsite and usually visits it several times a year or spends longer periods of time there. A camp , on the other hand, is a fixed facility that is of a provisional nature, but does not serve to organize leisure time and cannot be compared in the strict sense with camping. Likewise, spending the night in motor vehicles to maintain or regain driving ability is not understood as camping.

History of camping

Camping in Canada in 1907

Camping came into being at the beginning of the 20th century when, after the First World War, the boom came to Germany with the Roaring Twenties . For the first time, the average consumer could afford vacation, before employees had no statutory vacation entitlement. It made sense to regenerate inexpensively in the great outdoors. Camping was relatively easy, with tents and simple recreational items such as folding boats . The so-called "weekend movement" emerged. It was also the folding boat companies and the followers of this sport who developed the equipment. The folding boat manufacturers built their tents, which had previously only consisted of simple canvas, like the skins of their boats. The top is made of tightly woven cotton and has a rubber base. The folding boat pioneers Carl Joseph Luther and Hans Berger (Sport Berger) invented the necessary accessories: the down sleeping bag and the air mattress .

One of the first motorhomes , the VW T1 , camper van with a lifting roof
Motor scooters in camping use (2010)

The development was interrupted by the Second World War , and only after the end of the war and with the onset of the economic miracle could the broad masses afford vacation again. For the first time, cars were converted and equipped with camping utensils. The caravan , invented in 1931 , began its triumphant advance. Terms such as “fabric villa” or “house on the hook” emerged. An industry specializing in camping emerged in the 1960s. Extra vehicles such as the VW bus have been converted for camping, camping has been engineered and made more comfortable with innovations such as the on- board toilet . In recent decades, the range of offers has been steadily expanded, both in terms of the number of campsites and the manufacturers of vehicles and equipment. Camping holidays were also very popular in the GDR due to the lack of official holiday sites. According to GDR historian Stefan Wolle , there were 529 tent sites in the GDR with 20 million overnight stays at the end of the 1980s. In addition, the CSSR and the Hungarian Lake Balaton were popular camping destinations for East Germans.


The term Glamping is a portmanteau word for English " glamourous camping " for luxury camping 'and referred luxurious forms of camping. The term first appeared in the UK around 2005 and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016 .

Winter camping

Under Winter camping is meant camping in winter or at very low temperatures in snow and ice. Winter camping is often associated with winter sports .


A special form of camping is living and traveling in a recreational vehicle - mainly in a mobile home - when you give up your permanent residence. Reasons can be a housing shortage or a desire for adventure and travel. “Free standing” is preferred to staying on camping or mobile home sites. In the USA the term “vanlife” was coined for this way of life.

Legal situation

The permission for camping varies from country to country and sometimes also from municipality to municipality. The reason for this is the legal authority to regulate, which differs in every country. For example, the regulation of camping in Italy is a matter for the municipalities, in Germany state and federal laws determine where camping is permitted and where not.

In most European countries, camping is only permitted on officially approved campsites and, if necessary, on private property with the consent of the landowner.


A tent with mosquito nets to protect against insects

In Germany, bans on public roads are based on the StVO or the StVZO . In motorhomes and camping trailers, overnight stays in a caravan (with the towing vehicle coupled) or in a motorhome at rest stops and parking lots are tolerated. Outside of camping or parking spaces as well as private property, staying with a mobile home / caravan is only permitted for the "restoration of driving ability". However, steps, chairs / tables, barbecues or awnings, for example, must not be set up. In Germany, caravans are allowed to stand in one place on public traffic for up to 14 days and must then be removed like any normal car trailer in accordance with Section 12 (3b) of the Road Traffic Act . The same conditions apply to overnight stays for motorhomes as for caravans. Only parking is permitted in the case of mobile homes, like a car, free of times. The term “wild camping” does not exist in German law, but a stay in public traffic that goes beyond what is necessary to restore driving ability is considered unauthorized special use and constitutes an administrative offense.

Often forbidden: Wild fire pits

Camping at other locations outside of the facilities provided for this purpose can under certain circumstances be prosecuted as an administrative offense according to the (state) forest or nature conservation laws up to criminal offenses such as property damage and trespassing . This also applies to typical accompanying actions such as lighting a campfire or leaving rubbish behind .

Where camping in the great outdoors is neither expressly permitted nor prohibited, it is permitted with the permission of the property owner. Camping is expressly forbidden in many protected areas. In Baden-Württemberg (Section 44 (1) NatSchG), Brandenburg (Section 22 (4) BbgNatSchAG, Section 44 (4) 1 BbgNatSchG) and Schleswig-Holstein (Section 37 LNatSchG), the state nature conservation laws prohibit camping in the open countryside, i.e. outside closed areas Districts, in general. Fines can be imposed for violations. In the federal states of Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein , however, the state nature conservation laws allow non-motorized travelers (hikers, cyclists, canoeists, horse riders and so on) to set up tents for one night in the open countryside, provided that there are no special protection regulations and camping "Permitted under private law", ie permitted by the property owner. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, national parks, national natural monuments and nature reserves are generally exempt from the right to camp, camping is prohibited in coastal dunes and on beach ridges. In Schleswig-Holstein camping in coastal dunes, on beach ridges and on the beach is prohibited.

Whether staying overnight without a tent (for example with a tarp, bivouac sack, sleeping bag, hammock) in the wild is covered by the general right of access in the state nature conservation laws and therefore does not require a permit, is assessed differently. In any case, it does not constitute an administrative offense.


Wild camping is prohibited in Austria. Authorized camping is only permitted in designated locations. Spending the night in a motorhome is generally permitted when passing through outside of campsites, but not in Vienna, Tyrol, or in the national parks and protected landscape areas. As in Germany, the setting up of tables and chairs outside is prohibited.

In the 1990s, free camping was increasingly regulated by the camping or camping regulations of the federal states. The rule of thumb in 1993 was: up to about 3 tents, 9 people, 3 nights are tolerated outside of an approved campsite, provided the property owner agrees, the appearance of the place is not impaired and decency is not violated. Municipalities can make different regulations. Recreational camping will not work in the pedestrian zone in front of the town hall, but it will be a protest camp. Sunbathing in bathing trunks on the meadow in front of the pilgrimage church, across from a school or a guest garden is hardly tolerated, much more likely to be cyclists or hikers who are out and about despite the rain and who will soon be on their way again.

Camping in Austria - half of the campers come from Austria itself - has increased significantly in recent years (as of 2014). Campings in the course of major events such as concerts that may last several days are also important.


In Italy, wild camping is generally prohibited and can be punished with a fine of 100 to 500 euros. Strict attention is paid to compliance with the ban, especially in tourist areas. However, as in Germany, camping is permitted on private property if the owner agrees.


In Switzerland there is the right of access for everyone according to Art. 699 ZGB , which in principle allows every person to spend the night in the open, as long as no damage occurs or litter is left behind. However, this right is restricted by prohibitions in numerous cantons: In the national park, in hunting areas , nature reserves and during the rest period in wilderness areas, it is not allowed to camp or bivouack; or the paths must not be left anyway. Where it is permitted, it is recommended to obtain permission from the land owner. Outside the prohibited zones, a single overnight stay for a smaller group of people above the tree line is not a problem. Out of consideration for wild animals and sensitive ecosystems, it is not advisable to spend the night in floodplains , in wetlands, directly at the upper tree line or near rocks. The Swiss Alpine Club is issuing a leaflet on this.

Scandinavia, Scotland

In the Nordic countries with the exception of Denmark and Scotland, a right of use for publicly accessible areas in nature has developed over the course of history. This so-called everyone's right allows, under certain conditions, to camp temporarily on uncultivated land, even if this land is privately owned. Requirements are, for example, that nothing is damaged and no waste is left behind. And in order to be able to camp closer than 150 meters to an inhabited house (including holiday huts), the consent of the residents must be obtained. Driving on uncultivated land with motor vehicles is generally not permitted.


In Croatia, the police make sure that you do not spend the night in a car in the tourist area.


Tourism in general and camping in particular is an important source of income for many countries around the world.


In 2016, according to the Federal Statistical Office, around 9 million guest arrivals (+3.7 percent compared to the previous year) were counted on German campsites with a total of around 30.5 million overnight stays (a record; +4.3 percent compared to the previous year). With around 7.5 million arrivals (around 83 percent of all arrivals) and around 26 million overnight stays (around 86 percent of all overnight stays), guests from within Germany made up the majority of camping tourists. A total of around 1.5 million arrivals and around 4.3 million overnight stays were counted from abroad. These results only include tourism camping and not permanent camping . With an average of 3.5 nights, German tourists stayed significantly longer than guests from abroad who spent an average of 2.8 nights on the campsites. In 2016 there were 2919 campsites in Germany with around 220,000 parking spaces.

Camping with the caravan

The Dutch were by far the most important guest group among foreign camping tourists in 2016: around every second foreign guest at German campsites came from the Netherlands . The Swiss were in second place by a clear margin , followed by the Danes . The total annual turnover of the German campsites reaches almost 4 billion euros per year.


In Austria, a total of 4.93 and 4.67 million people stayed on campsites in 2005 and 2006, with the state of Carinthia with 1.79 and 1.67 million overnight stays just ahead of Tyrol with 1.34 and 1.25 million .

In 2006 a total of 5.4 percent fewer people stayed on a campsite than in the previous year. With regard to the total number of foreign tourists in the country, Germany leads the way with around 56 percent of all guests.


Within Switzerland, Germans and Dutch came in second and third place with 33 percent of all overnight stays in 2010, after the Swiss with 53 percent of all overnight stays.

In 2010 a total of 3.328 million overnight stays were counted, in 2009 it was 10.2 percent more with 3.65 million overnight stays. 28 percent of all guests stayed in Ticino (around 921,000), followed by Valais (around 523,000 overnight stays or 16 percent) and the Bernese Oberland (around 365,000 overnight stays or 11 percent).

The average guest spent 3.5 days in Switzerland, with Ticino recording an average of 4.5 days, while Central Switzerland only stayed 2.4 days.

Camping gear

Camping in the Algerian Sahara

Commonly used in camping and trekking are:

Camping equipment usually also includes camping chairs and camping tables. These are special constructions that meet the requirements for mobile outdoor use. So that they take up little storage space, camping chairs and tables can be folded or folded up, for example. The so-called pack size, i.e. the size when folded, is relatively small. In addition, camping chairs and tables are ideally made of weatherproof materials. Furthermore, they are light in the optimal case, which is why the rods are often made of aluminum. The tabletops on camping tables are usually made of plastic.

See also


  • Arnold Thunker: With bag and pack and rubber boat. The history of camping , Kiepenheuer, 1999, ISBN 3-378-01034-7 .

Web links

Commons : Camping  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Camping  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Wilcampen and free standing in Europe. In: Retrieved June 18, 2020 .
  2. 90 years of the Pioneers folding boat yard, exhibition catalog 2015, page 49
  3. ^ "Camping during the GDR era" ,, July 17, 2017, accessed on February 16, 2018
  4. "Glamping" is camping for the very demanding ,, August 19, 2011, accessed on February 26, 2013
  5. Glamping? Staycation? Travel Industry Loves Made-up Words
  6. July 6, 2016: Glamping, power couple and tl; dr among words added to Oxford English Dictionary
  7. US dropout trend #Vanlife
  8. § 12 paragraph 3b
  9. a b Bernd Grillts, Overnight Stay in the Free Part 2 ( Memento from September 26, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on September 25, 2017.
  10. § 22 (1) 2 BbgNatSchAG , § 44 (4) 2 BbgNatSchG , § 28 NatSchAG MV , § 37 LNatSchG SH .
  11. Bernd Grillts, Overnight in the open, part 1 ( memento from September 25, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on September 25, 2017.
  12. Ordinance of the City of Vienna's Magistrate regarding the ban on camping (Camping Ordinance 1985)
  13. Camping boom: A quarter more overnight stays ,, May 16, 2015
  14. Wild camping in Europe: laws and regulations. ADAC camping portal PinCamp, accessed on August 27, 2019 .
  15. Camping & Bivouacking , SAC
  16. [1] , Federal Statistical Office - Tourism in Figures, accessed on February 14, 2018
  17. [2] Statistics on camping tourism, accessed on February 14, 2018.
  18. [3] Campsites in Germany - sales forecast, accessed on February 14, 2018
  19. Youth hostels and campsites 2010