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Showering: On The Road in our Vintage Camper

We live fulltime in a 16 foot, 1985 Fiber Stream camper. Its self-contained, complete with a composting toilet, shower, 30 gallon fresh water tank, and 15 gallon grey water holding tank. We also have a hot water heater that holds 3 gallons.

Many friends and family have a common misconception about our shower experience. They seem to think we don’t shower often, and when we do, it’s definitely not a long, hot shower. Let us rest your concerns – we’re pretty clean and shower every other day. In our world, daily showers aren’t essential. We don’t have to “go to work” or “keep up appearances”. However, we do like to feel clean.

Here’s an overview of the many showering options on the open road:

Camper Shower

  • Pros: This is the closest option available. We know exactly how clean it is and who’s used it. The Oxygenics shower head conserves water while adding pressure. It also has a “pause” button on it to stop water flow while scrubbing. Our full wardrobe is close by and we can hop right into bed afterwards. 
  • Cons: Its a small space. We have to light the hot water heater and wait for it to warm up (5 minutes). Depending on our hookup situation, we have to practice conservation.
  • Time & Heat: These showers are among the quickest. They range from warm to scorching.
  • Frequency: Not often at all. More often for the dog than us.

Private RV Park Shower

  • Pros: These are typically clean, spacious, and private. Most RVs in a private park are huge Class A rigs and shower in their own unit. These showers have towel hangers, ledges for soap and shampoo, and sometimes freshly cleaned shower rugs.
  • Cons: We have to pack up our cleaning supplies and clothes in a backpack and walk to the shower.
  • Time & Heat: Long, hot showers!
  • Frequency: We stay at private rv parks about 5 days a month. During these stays, we shower as often as possible.

Public Campground Showers

  • Pros: These showers are mostly private and spacious. State parks tend to be cleaner than national parks.
  • Cons: The cleanliness can vary greatly from park to park. These showers usually have more traffic than private campgrounds. We like to wear sandals when showering in these. Sometimes the showers cost money – usually 25 cents a minute.
  • Time & Heat: Cool to Scorching heat. If they are pay showers, usually 4-6 minutes.
  • Frequency: We shower at these the most often and enjoy the experience.

The Wipe-Down Shower (sink and washcloth)

  • Pros: This shower option can be done almost anywhere – in our camper, gas station, national park, etc… It gets the job done.
  • Cons: It doesn’t give you the “fresh out of a shower” feeling.
  • Time & Heat: Short and cool.
  • Frequency: Not very often. This method is convenient after a day of light physical activity. It’ll get you clean enough to wait till tomorrow for a real shower.

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  1. Laura says:

    I love truck stop showers. Most of the time I do shower in my own small shower of my truck camper, since I boondock most of the time. But when I find a good truck stop that is clean to my standards , I make a point to treat myself to a hot shower.
    I do wear my flip flops in there, but I always spray the floor and shower with good smelling Lysol spray as soon as I go in and let it sit while I am getting my gear set up. Then I can take a shower as long as I want with all that lovely hot water!

  2. Jill Sessa says:

    This is one of those questions people love to ask after we’ve had a cocktail or two 😉
    I bought a Planet Fitness Black Card membership- depends on where I’m traveling, but I can find a location quite often. Hot, long showers and MASSAGE BEDS!
    Also, I got the Pilot “pro” card that awards showers based on filling up. Since that equates to times I’m driving a lot, this usually lines up with being in areas with a Pilot.
    But, most of all, I stopped washing my hair with shampoo- just a bit of baking soda and cornstarch a few times a week and my hair is the cleanest its ever been. It is fairly short, so I do brush it often.

  3. I lived in a van for four months in 2008 and primarily urban camped (Walmart parking lots/truckstops) and I never found showering to be a problem. Predominantly it would be at the campgrounds I stayed at every few days or the truck stops. Truck stop showers are AWESOME

  4. I lived in a van in 2008 for about four months, primarily boondocking and urban camping (Walmart Parking lots and truck stops). I never found showering to be a problem. Truck stop showers are amazing. Problem is, I’m a bather, not a showerer and baths are hard to come by on the road. I relished them when I got them once every few weeks or so, if I stayed with friends or treated myself to a motel.