Showering/Bathing Options for Van Life

By Rachel Puryear

We all get dirty and stinky sometimes – that’s part of life. When that happens, we need a way to freshen up.

When road tripping, this routine task we often take for granted at home can suddenly present more challenges. Of course, many RV’s do come with a shower – but some folks travel in vans and cars to keep things simpler.

However, there are several options for bathing for folks doing van/car camping. Let’s go over some:

Woman showering outdoors, facing green trees.

You’ll need ways to toilet without plumbing, too – see here for no-plumbing-required toileting options for van life.

Portable Showers

You can bring a shower with you, without the need to install complicated and costly plumbing systems in your van. A portable shower is simply a bag that holds the water, and a spray nozzle attached to it. It doesn’t take up much space, either.

For this option, I suggest this option, the Advanced Elements Summer Shower – it utilizes solar heat, so you just leave the water bag in the sun a few hours to have a nice warm shower. You can choose between four sizes, ranging from 2.5 to 10 gallons (9.5 to 37 liters) – the 5 gallon (19 liters) should provide one shower, so the 10 gallon (37 liters) is better for two people.

Need privacy for your shower? You might also want to pick up this pop-up privacy/shower tent. It weighs less than 5 pounds (2.3 kilos), and is 6’3 high (1.9 meters), so it’s more tall-friendly than most. You can also use it for your portable toilets, or to change clothes.

The pros of this method of washing yourself is that it’s simple, you can have privacy, and you only buy the shower bag and tent once.

The cons are that you need to wait a few hours to heat the water in the sun, and you need to keep refilling the water bag when you want a shower.

Dry Cleaning (Yourself)

If you’ve ever been hospitalized, or recovered from an injury, you may have done this already. This can also be an easy way to stay clean on the road.

You can clean your entire body, feel fresh, and moisten your skin with large adult wipes like these ones. These are easy to carry, and don’t take up much space.

Also, don’t forget dry shampoo, to clean your hair. If you’ve never used dry shampoo, it’s easy; you just spray it on your hair and then brush it out.

The pros to this method are that it’s easy, you don’t need to use water, you can do it inside your vehicle, and it may be easier than showering if you have physical limitations.

The cons are that it does generate some waste (which may or may not be offset by not using water), and you have to keep buying more wipes (though with showering, you also have to keep buying soap).

Borrowed Showers

Truck Stop Showers

Truckers also need to shower on the road – so one popular option for road trippers is where they go – truck stop showers. These typically cost about $12-15, with a time limit of around 30-45 minutes.

Don’t be afraid of truck stop showers – these are normally clean, safe, and private – you can lock the door while you’re in there. It’s much like using a hotel room.

Although truck stop showers are made for truckers, anyone can use them. However, if there’s a wait for showers, it’s good manners to let truckers go ahead of you, if possible – they’re working a long day, and typically on a tight schedule.

There are truck stops all over the USA, and all over the world. Truck stops with great showers include: Flying J Truck Stop (they offer a free shower if you fuel over 1,000 gallons in a month), Loves Truck Stop, and ClearWater Travel Plaza Truck Stop (free shower with fuel purchase), TravelCenters of America Truck Stop (free shower or meal up to $14 for buying 1,500 gallons of fuel).


Many campgrounds offer showers, and you might be staying in some during your travels, anyway. Here’s a guide to campgrounds around the USA, which also indicates which ones have showers.

Note: For any borrowed shower, remember to bring your shower gear: soap, shampoo/conditioner, washcloth, towel, and shaving and other grooming supplies. Some showers might provide soap, but you might want your preferred kind.

The pros of borrowed showers are that you get the experience most like showering at home – or in a hotel room, and someone else cleans and maintains it. Plus, there’s privacy, and it’s indoors.

The cons are that you have to locate a shower every time, you might need to wait for one, and it might cost more per shower over time if you do it frequently.

You could also, of course, use a combination of all these methods that works for you – for instance, use a portable shower or wipes on some days, then use borrowed showers when you can find them.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to traveling economically, without giving up good hygiene.

Check out my other blog, too – World Class Hugs, at It’s about celebrating empathic people, more balanced relationships with others, spirituality through curiosity, and visiting gorgeous natural places.

Got a question you want answered through this blog? Submit your question to me here – and if you don’t already, please request to subscribe to the Free Range Life newsletter while you’re there!

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We appreciate your support!

Road Trips Van RV life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: