The Best Places to Shower When You Live in a Van
You’re new to the van life. You’ve just finished your first weekend, and now you’re stuck in it for another week, maybe two. You can go home any time, but you won’t.
Your friends from high school have probably broken all contact with you; your parents don’t approve of what you’ve done with your life or lack thereof; you don’t have a job or a home; and you need to shower immediately. Usually the nearest gas station has an outdoor bathroom with a puke-inducing stench and wall-clinging bugs that creep up your legs as soon as you pee, so that won’t work either.
There are a few solutions to this conundrum.
First, if you’re in a city, you can do what many homeless people do and use the public pools, spas, and pools for free showers. Public pools will have hours posted on the outside, you’ll just have to check the times. Some parks have public pools as well.
If you’re near a lake, you can jump in and take a swim. City lakes often have beaches and change rooms with bathrooms, so that’s an option as well. You can also try getting a membership to a nearby fitness or aquatic center; you might not be able to shower there, but you can certainly use their pool.
If you haven’t run out of options yet, try a Walmart. Yes, they allow people to use their restrooms and showers. You may have to spend a few hours hanging out in the store first, but you can do that anyway if you’re broke.
You just need to sign up for a Bluebird account. They’ll then send you a card with a unique identification number. Sign in with this account and ask the store manager for a key to the restrooms. There, you’ll find a clean, private space with a shower.
Great, but what if you don’t have a Bluebird Account?
Walmart’s restrooms are open to the public, but the showers are not. If you don’t have the Bluebird account, your only option is the restroom. Unfortunately for you, this means that the bathroom has a door.
If you’ve exhausted all other options, you can always pee in a sprinkler. Yes, it’s gross, but it’s also free. You can also use the sprinkler’s water pressure to clean your hair and body, like a mini-shower.
Be sure to use biodegradable soap and leave no trace. If the sprinkler is in a yard, be sure to stay on the sidewalk so you don’t get the sprinkler owners in trouble. If you’re in a public place, try to find a less obvious place to pee.
Laundromats don’t just have washers and dryers anymore. They also have showers. Most have coin-operated showers, but there are a few that you can use for free.
As with the sprinkler, be sure to use biodegradable soap and leave no trace. Again, if you’re in a public place, try to find a less obvious place to pee.
RV Park Showers
RV parks can range from full hookups to tent camping. If you find one near a city without a gym, they’re a great option. They usually have both hot and cold water, so feel free to mix it up and wash your hair.
Most RV parks also have laundry facilities, so you can do your laundry while you’re there. Just make sure to get a receipt so you can prove you were there. Some RV parks might have a waiting list, so check availability and book ahead of time.
Van Life Shower Solutions
These are all great solutions while you’re living in a van, but what if you’re a long-term van lifer? That’s okay, too. There are a few solutions for you as well.
- Solar Shower: This is a fancy name for a tarp that you fill with water. Basically, you find a place to attach the tarp to the van, get naked in the van, and use a hose attached to the tarp to spray yourself down.
- DIY Sprinkler: This is exactly like the sprinkler shower, except you’re naked in your van. Be sure to stay on the sidewalk so you don’t get kicked out of the park.
If you follow these directions, you can shower almost anywhere. Oh, and if you don’t want to smell like pee, try stirring up some coffee grounds and sprinkling them around the sprinkler’s nozzle.