Planning a road trip across America? Or are you thinking about living in a van full time? Well you're in for a hell of an amazing experience! Seeing the USA from the road is spectacular and allows you to reach some extraordinary places you wouldn't be able to visit by plane or tour bus. But that doesn't mean life on the road is always easy. Ask any van dweller or somebody who has already driven across America what the biggest challenge they encountered was, and the answers are almost always the same...
a) Where can I park overnight to sleep that is safe?
b) Where will my next shower come from?
If you are reading this post then you are probably wondering the same thing. Well, unless you are planning to rent out an RV that is already equipped with showering facilities or have it in your budget to stay in a hotel/motel every night, keep reading to find out our tips and secrets on best places to shower on a road trip. (And if you want to know where you can park overnight and sleep in your vehicle read 7 Places You Can Park Overnight & Sleep.)
In order to gain great things (in this case the freedom of the open road and seeing places that are beyond incredible) you have to make a few sacrifices and daily showering is one of them. You might only go a few days without showering or you might go weeks! It all depends on where you plan on visiting. If you're like us and love being outdoors and exploring hard to reach destinations, showers can be few and far between. Sometimes it is because of lack of any nearby facilities, sometimes it is because of your budget, and sometimes it is because after a long day of adventuring you are just too tired to go on a never ending search for your next shower.
I won't lie, this is probably one of the worst parts about road tripping/ living in a van. What's that you say? You can handle it? I assure you there will be a time when you will crack. When you no longer can handle being a dirt bag! After a few months on the road you learn a few tricks and I want to share those with you. Below is a list of places that we use to shower when we are on the road depending on our location.
Best places to shower on a road trip!
If you are driving across country, visiting national parks, visiting state parks, or you are just in the middle of nowhere, campgrounds are going to be your best bet for finding shower facilities. No matter where you are (so long as it's not the city) you are likely to pass a couple of them whether they are private or state owned. The privately owned campgrounds always have shower facilities and some can be quite luxurious with heating inside the bathrooms. State campgrounds won't always have showers so you might have to check a few out before finding what you're looking for. You can usually pick up a state map from a visitor or welcome center with a list of campgrounds and the facilities they offer. You will either have to pay for a night of camping to gain access (especially if it's privately owned) or you may be able to park outside the grounds and just walk in to use the facilities. If it is a private campground you won't need to pay for shower usage. However if you're at a state campground make sure you always keep quarters in the car. Showers are coin operated and will usually cost a few dollars depending on the length of time you take, for example a dollar a minute.
This amazing tip was given to us by a lovely friend and fellow van dweller/road tripper. If you are about to embark on a long road trip or plan to take a few months to travel cross country you should invest in a gym membership. All gyms have shower facilities. Some even have spa's and sauna's. Imagine having that to look forward to after a long day driving or after a few miles of hiking! There are many gyms that have locations throughout the country that your membership will be good for. Some gyms like 24 Hour Fitness are open 24 hours! Some even offer free 7 day trials. Gyms are a great idea especially if you are urban camping (which means sleeping in your vehicle in the city or suburbia). And just maybe it might give you a little bit of motivation to get fit?
3. Public Swimming Pools
We came up with this idea after we were tossing around the idea of joining a gym and decided that we didn't want to pay the expensive fees involved with gym memberships at the time (because we didn't know how long we would be hanging around in civilization and also because we got accustomed to going a few days at a time without showering). So we paid the local public swimming pools a visit as they always have showering facilities and are a great idea if you're in the city or suburbs but don't want to commit to a 12 month membership. They are fairly inexpensive if you're only looking to shower once or twice a week. We have even found a few public swimming pools with water slides so they can be fun too!
4. Boat Marina's
If you happen to be travelling along the coast, boat marina's are definitely somewhere you are likely to find shower facilities. The awesome thing about shower facilities at boat marina's is that they are super clean most of the time and some even have heaters inside the bathrooms. You might even come across some with laundry facilities. Marina's are a nice place to base yourself for a few days if you happen to be exploring the area because they have shower's, sometimes free parking (along the Oregon and Washington coast) and most of the time set in gorgeous locations. Most of the shower facilities we have come across are open to the public but remember they are coin operated so keep some quarters in the car. Sometimes a code is needed to get in so if you're really desperate for a shower make friends with some of the residents on the dock and they might just share the code with you. It's important to remember to be respectful because these shower facilities are the personal bathrooms of locals living on their boats.
5. Pilot Gas Stations
These are a welcome sight if you have been on the road for an extended period and have still not showered. Pilot gas stations (which have been designed to cater for truckers) have shower facilities and can be found all over the country on highways and interstate's. Their shower facilities are not cheap but if you don't plan to shower every day they are well worth it. For around $7 you will get your own bathroom for however long you want. These bathrooms are the equivalent of a five star hotel and even come with soap and shampoo. Pilot gas stations have coffee, snacks and offer hot food all for super cheap. Click on this link to check out Pilot's website if you want more information on their locations.
If all else fails you can always stay the night at a motel. This is usually a last resort for us as we like to try to save as much money as we can, but if you can afford it why not?! Sometimes you are just desperate for a shower.... a shower where you can take as long as you want and don't have to worry about wearing flip flops or carrying a bag with all your toiletries. Road-side motels can be fairly inexpensive ranging between $40 to $60. Sleeping in a real bed and watching the tube can be a nice change too! Motel 6 seems to be the most budget friendly and they have locations all over the USA and Canada. You can even save a little further by using the promo code below valid until December 2018.
Have any of your own tips or secrets you want to share? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Portable Solar Showers
A great alternative to finding shower facilities is buying a solar shower for your vehicle. They only require a one time purchase and you can shower whenever you want! There's nothing quite like bathing in the great outdoors!!! Our top picks for solar showers are below. You can click on the image to learn more about the products or to purchase through Amazon; they range between $10 - $100.
7 Places You Can Park Overnight & Sleep On A Road Trip
How We Survive On $5 A Day in the USA!
The Best West Coast Road Trips You Need to Take
DIY Solar-Heated Pressurized Car-Top Camp Shower
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