Living In A Van

Hygiene On the Road

Jon and Ruthy

Disclaimer: I am a mild germaphobe, not so mild neat-nick of a human being. I like to get dirty, but I very much like to get clean afterward, especially before retiring to my 50 square foot living space that I share with a much less concerned man and dog.

My husband and I lived in a van for almost two years, mostly sans road shower and almost never using proper campgrounds. This meant many a washcloth bath before bed, and learning to get crafty with our hygiene. I’m a firm believer that you do not need a shower in your van to stay clean! Here are my tips for keeping those legs from sticking together in bed: 

  • Body wipes. So freakin’ handy. Keep some wipes in your van for those nights when you just need a quick wipe-down to freshen yourself up. (Be sure not to miss your nether regions.)
  • Washcloths. Keep several washcloths in your van, as well as a good bar of soap so you can really scrub yourself clean using your van’s sink. They’re for sure gonna get you cleaner than wipes, and are a great option if you don’t have a body of water to jump into, which brings me to…
  • Bodies of water. They’re everywhere.  Lakes, rivers, local swimming holes – any one makes a stellar spot to bathe AND a stellar spot to camp. Be sure to buy eco-friendly soap and shampoo, and refresh that hair and bod! 
  • Campgrounds. Ahhhhh campgrounds. A night at a campground was a super rare and very luxurious treat for us on the road, in large part due to the hot showers most of them offer. They also usually have a place to fill up your water tank!
  • Planet Fitness. A nationwide membership is $10/month AND you can bring a guest every time you go. We used this All. The. Time. It was always a great refresher to use a Planet Fitness and get a nice hot shower and even a quick workout if that’s your jam!
  • Truck stops. Talk about EVERYWHERE. And they all have showers. We actually never used this option, and I consider it a last resort simply because the showers tend to be a tad grimey and you often have to wait for a shower to open up. But hey, a shower is a shower and these showers are all over the place!
  • Outdoor road shower. After more than a year on the road, we finally invested in a propane heated road shower. They’re relatively inexpensive (ours was less than $200), and can be hooked up to your propane system to get instant hot water. We set ours up right inside the back doors and rigged up a shower curtain when needed. Highly recommend.

As I said, having a shower on the road is convenient, but definitely not vital to living life in a van. There are lots of ways to stay clean out there, and often the hunt for hygiene can lead to some of the best camp spots and memories!


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