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When we first started talking about travelling through the US in a van one of my big worries was how to shower when you live in a van? The vans we were looking at while still back in the UK had a shower (albeit it tiny), but still, it’d do.
However, when we actually bought a van we opted for a Ford Econoline van which didn’t have a bed in it, let alone a shower. Plus, you can’t stand up right in it… It looked like this:
It looks a tonne better now (as you’d hope). It has a full size queen bed (that turns into a sofa), a kitchen with a sink, and plenty of space for all our belongings. It’s a pretty good home really. But it doesn’t have a shower.
I’ve written about how I keep myself feeling clean without a shower but obviously at some point I do have to find a real shower. This doesn’t come without its challenges whilst you’re travelling from place to place, but it’s easier than you’d think.
Here are a few suggestions on where to shower when you live in a van
Shower at the gym
This was the option we used the most. As soon as we arrived in America we signed up to Planet Fitness. They’re all over the US and are super, super cheap.
We were paying $20 a month for both of us with the Planet Fitness Black Card. Their Black Card gets you access to every gym in America, and you can bring a guest every time. This meant we only had to pay for one membership between us, so $10 a month for unlimited showers.
You also get to use their massage chairs for free, free pizza and bagels on certain days every month and the gyms are great – new equipment, plenty of space and you never have to queue to use something. Most gyms are open 24/7 so you can have a shower whenever you like.
Definitely one of the best purchases we made!
When we weren’t near Planet Fitness (mainly around the National Parks in Utah), we turned to campsites for our showering needs. Campsites are often a pretty great place to get a shower when you live in a van.
Campsites always have showers and most of them will let you use them even if you’re not staying. Not all do though. However, we managed to shower at one place that didn’t allow walk-ins on the basis that “we looked like a nice couple”, so it’s worth a try.
Prices vary for campsite showers but on average we paid $4 a shower. The place we showered at in Moab was only $3 but the water turned off at 5 minutes – plenty for me but maybe not enough if you like long showers!
A leisure centre
One of the more obvious places to find a shower when you live in a van is at a leisure centre. Most of the time you’ll just be able to pay for a swim and just use the shower or swim too if you fancy.
The only time we encountered a problem with this was in North California where you could only shower at certain times and they charged more when you weren’t swimming than when you were. Despite the fact the pool was empty they wouldn’t let us shower outside of their specified hours. Weird. I’d assume most leisure centres wouldn’t have such odd rules though!
Top tip: Take a look online at prices before you go, or get a pool timetable. Sometimes it’s a lot cheaper to swim(/shower) in the middle of the day or early morning when the pools are less busy. Time your shower for off-peak times and save money!
Use a solar powered shower
Whilst I haven’t tried this myself, these look like a pretty good idea. You can get these solar powered shower bags from Walmart and Amazon and they don’t cost too much. You strap them to the roof of your van when it’s sunny, wait a few hours and you’ve got a warm shower wherever you want it!