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Tips for Camper Van Life Showering on the Road

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I’ve been living and showering on the road for over four years, and one of the most common questions I get asked is: “Where do you shower?!”.

I’ve come a long way from bathing in a remote forest with a gallon of water and jumping in the freezing cold water of alpine lakes to finding comfortable and affordable places to shower. Staying fresh and clean while living out of your camper van helps you adapt to the lifestyle.

A little local research, using your resources, and chatting with locals goes a long way. Here are some tips and the best options for camper van life showering on the road.

Places You Can Shower on the Road

1. Purchase a Solar Shower

A solar shower is the ultimate freedom; it allows you to take a warm shower right at your campsite! So, what exactly is a solar shower? It’s a portable shower bag that soaks up the sun’s rays during the day, heating the water inside to a toasty temperature. When you’re ready to freshen up, hang it from a tree branch, hook it up, and voilà! You’ve got yourself a hot shower; no plumbing required.

We love them so much we decided to offer them as an extra! For just $25, you can have one ready and waiting for you at pick-up, and it’s yours to keep after the trip! Skip the long search for a shower and opt for a solar shower.

2. Public Swimming Pools & Recreation Centers

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover the benefits of public swimming pools and recreation centers. It wasn’t until I was road-tripping in British Colombia in the spring and it was raining every day. Regular gyms were pricey. I wanted to move my body and work out, but I wanted to shower after.

Community swimming pools and recreation centers are the perfect option for finding a hot shower on the road. I’ve now been to many public pools and rec centers, and they often only cost $4 – $8 for a day pass. Nicer facilities are sometimes more expensive, so searching for the best option is a good idea. Some centers even have saunas and hot tubs!

3. Campgrounds

Even if you’re not staying at a campground, many privately owned campgrounds will let you purchase a day pass to shower. These showers are often between $5 – $10 depending on the place. I’ve found that campgrounds at national parks and state parks are stricter about day passes for showering.

4. Hostels

I’ve taken a fair share of showers in hostels in both cities and small outdoorsy towns. I’ve always paid around $5 for a hostel shower, and I wasn’t staying there.

Bonus: Many people leave their soap and shampoo behind so you might even get that for free!

5. Truck Stops/Gas Stations

Truck stops, showers, and gas stations are an easy and common option along many road trip routes. Generally, these shower facilities average around $10, but some places charge up to $20. You’ll have a private shower with a toilet, sink, and shower. Many even provide towels.

You don’t have to be a truck driver to shower at a gas station. Some popular gas stations include Pilot’s, Love’s, and Flying J’s.

6. Public Beach Showers

If you’re traveling along the coast, many public beaches have showers for free! Of course, these aren’t private, so you’ll need to shower in your bathing suit. Coastal beaches are the most common option with free public showers, but some river and lakeside beaches have free showers too.

7. Gyms

Gyms are a great option for showering on the road. Many gyms offer rates with affordable day passes so you can work out and shower. Some gyms even offer free one-day passes!

If you’re spending time in more populated cities and towns, consider a gym membership at Planet Fitness or 24-Hour Fitness. For as little as $25 a month, you’ll have access to their nationwide network of gyms with warm showers.

If you’re based in one location and prefer regular showers, research the local gyms for the best option. Also, keep in mind the gym hours—the more flexible, the better.

I’ve also found that some local climbing gyms will let you pay $5 to shower. You can’t use any other facilities, but at least the shower is affordable!

8. Boat Marinas

Boat marinas sometimes have public showering facilities. This doesn’t always work, as some marina bathrooms require a code to enter, but if not, they’re a convenient option. Stay under the radar showering at boat marinas so privileges aren’t removed.

9. Lakes, Streams, and Rivers

This isn’t always the warmest option, especially if you live in the mountains, but fresh water sources are a great option to rinse off and feel clean! And they’re free!

If you use these freshwater sources, it’s important to keep them pristine. Avoid using any soap in the water; if you must use soap, check that soap is permitted in the area and use environmentally friendly soap.

Many areas require washing at least 100 feet from any water source. This is common in high mountainous areas with freshwater alpine lakes. However, in desert areas like along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, it’s preferred that you wash directly in the river. Read regulations before you bathe in a natural water source.

10. Friends

Hit up friends for a shower when passing through their town! And remind them that you don’t need a place to stay because you have your camper van – but maybe buy them some chocolate or a 6-pack.

Or make friends while on the road! Many people, especially those also familiar with camper van life showering on the road, are especially open to letting you stop by for a shower.

11. Ask Around for Tips for Showering on the Road!

It never hurts to ask locals for tips about showering on the road. I’ve received some of the best advice from people working at used gear shops, campgrounds, and even from national park employees.

Final Tips for Showering on the Road

The longer you spend on the road, the more you’ll learn about showering on the road. Here are a few tips to help your camper van showering experience go smoothly.

  • Use camping apps to find shower locations. Camping apps like iOverlander, The Dyrt, and Campendium are awesome resources for finding campsites nationwide. Many people also mark public shower locations.
  • A quick Google search is also a great option. Reddit pages usually have information about showering on the road in a small town.
  • Staying clean helps you stay warm. Sweat cools you off, so the less you shower, the colder you’ll be, especially in the winter. Showering regularly helps you sleep better.
  • Don’t expect all your camper van life showering experiences to be incredible. Sometimes the water pressure is great, sometimes, it’s AWFUL. Some showers have a time limit for hot water or don’t warm up much. Some facilities are dirty. You often get what you pay for, so keep that in mind when showering on the road.

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