vanlife where to find free water

Alongside wanting to know where we shower when we’re living in our van, Elvis. People tend to wonder where we get water. I hate buying small bottles of water and so stocking up on these just wasn’t an option for me. I’d wondered about where we’d find water fountains or taps before we moved into our tiny home and it turns out it’s so much easier than you’d think to find water when you live in a van.

Based on the list below which details the places we find water, I’d imagine it’s harder to find water in the UK than it has been in America and Canada. The UK is pretty bad for water fountains I don’t remember ever having noticed them in supermarkets and very rarely in parks. If you’re living in a van in the UK then let me know what it’s like. If you’re in North America here are so great places to find water when you live in a van.

Something to bear in mind…

Our van is small and we don’t have a massive water tank like some vans to. We have a 10 litre tank that connects to our hand pump sink and then two 1 gallon water bottles (actually just one now, the other one got a leak!) and one 5 litre bottle that we fill up and use to refill our drinking bottles.

We fill the 10 litre bottle up about once a week and the others we fill up every few days. If you live in a bigger van, or one that has a water inlet then you might find these suggestions aren’t that useful to you. However, you could still buy a couple of smaller bottles just to keep you going!

where to find water when you live in a van

Supermarkets

Down the east coast of the US we found ourselves sleeping in a lot of Walmart carparks. This was useful for many reasons (not only were they free) but they also provided us with an unlimited supply of free water.

Every Walmart (and pretty much every supermarket) has a water fountain or two (usually near the toilets) and you can fill up your bottles here.

The majority of supermarkets we’ve come across also have a machine with purified water that costs about 10cents a gallon (I think!). I know this isn’t much money, but we never opted for this and just stuck to the standard water fountains. The water tasted fine and didn’t cost us anything.

We only got told we weren’t allowed to full up our bottles once by some grumpy manager in Washington State (his staff then started bitching about him to us).

City Parks

Pretty much every park, no matter how small, has a water fountain in it somewhere. Pull up, get your bottles out of the van and fill up! If you’re having a hard time finding water then heading to a park is pretty much a fail proof way to top up.

National Parks

National Parks also always have water. I’m not suggestion you go to one just to fill up your water bottles, but remember to think about filling them up before you leave!

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Petrol Stations

Some petrol stations will have water fountains where you can fill up for free. If they don’t then you can pretty much count on them having a machine where you can top up for less than a couple of dollars.

Campsites

For those of you staying at a campsite or RV park you’ll be sorted for water as every campsite will have a tap or a water hookup to keep you hydrated!

Gyms

We sometimes filled up one or two of our gallon water bottles at Planet Fitness after we’d had out workout and our shower. (If you read this post you’ll know Planet Fitness is where we went to shower while living in a van in the US).

Rest areas

For those days when you seem to drive non-stop along the highways then stop off at a rest area to top up your water containers. There are always some water fountains here and we even found one in Oregon that was doing free coffee, biscuits and tea all day!

Streams & lakes (when you’ve purified it!)

Grab yourself a life straw or some water purifying solution and fill up your water while you’re exploring the mountains!

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