Waterfalls make great showers!
At some point, whether you’re traveling just a couple of days or you’re actually living in your van you’re going to get to a point where it’s time to take a shower.
If you’re traveling during the summer months showers are pretty easy to come by but if you’re traveling in colder weather you may be wondering where are all the public showers at?
Van life has so many perks I don’t even know where to start. What we love most is being self-contained and ready to roll at a moments notice. Some people have the luxury of having a shower hookup or an actual shower in their van but for those who don’t, it’s not a problem because there are several options for you to shower and feel fresh and clean while living the ultimate van life.
When you’re looking for a shower- National parks are a great option! Don’t miss our National Parks Bucket List Sheet Below
Get A Gym Membership
If you are going to be traveling the states there are several gyms that have locations throughout the whole country. The great thing about showering at gyms is many of them are open 24 hours.
If you aren’t able to find a gym that’s open 24 hrs I guarantee you most of them stay open fairly late and open really early. Many of the chain memberships are very affordable and a great way to dip your toes into the public showering experience.
My only advice with the chain gym is make sure they don’t have any limitations such as only using gyms in a specified radius of your “home gym.”
Popular Gyms With Multiple Locations
24 Hour Fitness
As the name implies it is open 24 hours. 24 Hour Fitness has fewer locations than the other two I’ll be mentioning but it still has a whopping 420 locations. Most of the locations are on the E and W coasts but they have a couple of gyms sprinkled in other states such as Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Texas.
Make sure you do some googling to find out if they have a location where you’ll be traveling.
If you are planning to get a membership you’ll want to check the specifics because they have some limitations on what gyms you can use depending on your home gym location.
Most of the memberships range from $30-70 a month with a one-time initiation fee upon signing up.
As the name implies you really can work out anytime (or in our case public showers at any time). Anytime Fitness is unique from the others in that it offers you a keycode to access the building.
Anytime Fitness membership fees and contracts vary depending on the kind of membership you apply for and the location of the gym. But the average cost is around $30 to $44/month.
With 1800 locations (tons of locations on the East and West coast) Planet fitness is a very affordable and popular choice for public shows and a workout. You can get a membership for as little as $10 a month.
If you intend to use multiple locations you’ll want to make sure you purchase the black card. The black card is only about $20 a month but does require a year contract.
A bonus with Planet Fitness is you get a guest pass when you sign up so you and another person can split the cost.
Showering At Rec Centers
We’ve had a lot of success with paying day fees at Rec Centers and YMCA’s to use their workout equipment and take a shower. Most of the time we pay around $8 per person.
Public Showers At Paid Campgrounds
Paid campground showers are the perfect way to clean up after a couple of long days without showering. We do this all the time when we are living the van life in Moab.
Keep in mind if it’s the winter season you may have difficulty finding any campground shower facilities that are open. Many campgrounds shut things down over winter.
We were traveling in Arizona in February and found a couple of campgrounds that had open shower facilities but don’t get your heart set on it because they were FEW and FAR Between.
You’ll also want to know that many of the showers are coin-operated and timed especially if you want any hot water. So before heading down the path of campground showers make sure you have some quarters in your pocket.
It’s no fun to run out of quarters with a bunch of conditioner still in your hair.
Grab our complete list of U.S National Parks To help you accomplish your bucket list goals.
Hostels are a great place to get a much-needed shower for about $5-$10. While we were skiing and stealth camping several days at Jackson Hole Resort we got to a point where it was time for a legit and proper shower.
We called up the hostel at the resort and asked if we could pay for a shower and they happily accommodated our request. They even gave us a fresh bar of soap and some lotion, how nice of them!
Truck Stop Public Showers
Did you know that you too can take a shower at a truck stop? Yes, truck stop shower facilities aren’t just for truckers. Truck stops cater to those on the road regardless if you are van lifer or a truck driver.
Many have even rebranded themselves in recent years to the friendlier “travel plazas”. Have you realized everything these truck stops have? The list of amenities at truck stops in continuing to grow, I’ve seen some with gyms, hair salons, laundering facilities, and even massage therapists!
What I love best about the truck stops is shopping! Yes, they have the best 12 volt van life appliances around!
Truckstop showering facilities have come along way, really they have! They’re usually nicer than the ones you’ll find at RV parks. You’ll pay $10-12 to get a super clean, private room with your own key.
Honestly, it’s a bit expensive in my opinion but when you’re desperate for a shower it’s an option!
Popular Truck Stops With Public Showering Facilities
- Flying J
- Loves Truck Stops
- Pilot Travel Center
- Travel Centers of America
Jump In The River or a Lake
Hey if it’s summertime there’s nothing better than freshening up with some cold river water. But make sure you leave the soap in the van. Even the most “environmentally friendly” soaps can damage the delicate ecosystem of a lake or stream.
Find Some Hotsprings
There’s no better way to warm up in the winter months than finding a nice toasty hot spring. These are a great way to freshen up after a big day.
Get A Day Pass To A Hotel Swimming Pool
This isn’t always possible because some hotels reserve the pool for guests only but I know some hotels gladly accept outside guests for a small fee. We’ve paid about $8 a person to use the hotel pool, hot tub, and private clean showering facilities. This often includes the use of their gym as well.
Take a solar shower
When it’s hot outside the perfect shower is a solar shower! I love taking solar showers in the “wild” because the views are incredible. It’s such a treat to hang my solar shower bag on some rocks and come back after a long day of biking to a hot shower ready to go.
The great thing about solar showers is they are perfect for people who have limited space. You can easily roll up your solar shower and stuff it away to use again another day.
PVC Pipe Roof Shower
I love PVC pipe showers, a friend of ours has one on their van and it was a perfect way to shower after a long ride.
Build a van shower
You probably wondering how the heck is a shower inside your van considered a public shower, isn’t this an article about public showering?
Yes, as a matter of fact, it is but if you have an inside water source you can easily attach tubing and a shower head to your faucet and hang your shower nozzle from your sliding door. Now you have an outdoor public shower!
We’ve showered inside and out of our van many times with our shower tubing and a simple shower nozzle.
August even created a great makeshift showering area inside our van. The drain pan for our shower doubles as our ski rack and boot holder allowing the snow to drain without getting our van floor all wet.
Looking towards the back of the van you can see the shower curtain hanging with the bed flipped up to the left.
For water we ran a hose from the sink faucet to the shower. Nothing fancy but it worked great.
Wet Wipe Shower
When all else fails and you’re not able to find a public shower make sure you always have some full body wipes on hand. Oh and for the ladies throw in some dry shampoo to absorb that shine! It’s shine, right? not grease 😉
Viva Paper Towels
- Cut roll in half
- Remove cardboard center
- 2 C Hot Water
- 1 Tbs Dr. Bronners
- 1 Tbs Witch Hazel
- 2 Tbs oil (almond, avocado)
- Several drops of tea tree oil