In our own research, we did not find a great deal of transparency on how to keep up your hygiene when you are living on the road. Dialing in a process to maintain our personal standards of hygiene has been a learning experience that has taken a great deal of refining. Luckily, maintaining your hygiene while living on the road is not hard, it just takes a bit of strategizing and planning. Lets dive in shall we?
“So this might be a slightly awkward question, but how does all the hygiene stuff work? Like is there a toilet in the van? And showering? I don’t have any experience with camper vans so I don’t know exactly what fits in one. And anytime I do something related to nature the first thing I figure out is where I can poop.”
Lucky enough for you, I am an open book and not in the slightest embarrassed to answer these kinds of questions! If you know a good way over these hurdles they will never hold you back in the future adventure.
Going to the Bathroom:
We are blessed with a sink, 13 gallon water tank, 2 burner stove and a refrigerator. Despite the great accommodations we do have our Vanagon, Stanley, does not have a toilet.
Our solution: For #1s when we are out in nature we will go where there is a private off path place. We are sure to never leave behind toilet paper, out of respect for nature. For cold or rainy nights, and stealth camping when leaving the van at night is not ideal, we carry a wide mouth water bottle…fun right?! Being a lady, it takes practice, and I will leave it at that.
If #2 if the issue at hand: in the woods, again, a nice private off path place we dig a small hole and then cover it back up when we are done. (this is standard practice for campers, hikers, and wanderers alike) If we are not in the woods we use public restrooms at trailheads, in coffee shops (that we are already working at), grocery stores, gas stations, or other public restrooms.
- Portable toilets out of 5 gallon paint buckets with cat litter or plastic bag: I have seen one…they are pretty cool and great for weekend warriors. For us we didn’t want a large bucket taking up valuable living space.
- There are also some great composting toilets out there if you can afford the space. That is not in our realm of specialty, so I will leave it at that!
By far our most commonly asked question about living on the road is about how we shower. Now that we have nearly been on the road for a year we have used every method in the book to shower! I will go through them in order of our most frequently used.
Portable shower bag: This is our preference when it comes to showering, even though it is limited to warmer climates. We use the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower and can not speak more highly of it. It is durable and compact when it is not in use. The Nemo shower holds about 3 gallons of water, which is plenty for both Owen and I to shower with. The shower has a handy foot pump so that your shower is pressurized all the way to the last drop of water! We tend to just fill it when we fill our water tank.
Campgrounds with showers: When we are in colder climates & seasons this tends to be our go to method of showering! When we are searching for places to camp on our favorite campground apps (all stays & ultimate campgrounds) you can search to see if showers are available. We will typically only stay in this type of campground when a shower is a necessity. In the end it is a win/win. We get clean & a place to stay for the night!
Yoga studios or climbing gyms: Being that we love to do yoga and climb this always feels like such a treat! We will take a class or climb and then take full advantage of the locker room facilities before we leave!
Lakes & Streams: We try not to do this too often. Reason being that we want to be respectful of the water supply and all that rely on it! If this is our only option, we usually will just use it to rinse off and not use any sort of soaps or chemicals that could harm the water in anyway. Good news is that it will hold us over for another few days!
Truck Stops: Some truck stops offer showers which is very convenient because you are probably already there getting gas! We have only used this option once. It can be really expensive, BUT they do give you fresh towels! FRESH TOWELS!
**SIDE NOTE: If you are showering outside it is always best to use soaps and shampoos that are gentle on the earth! That could be a blog post all its own, but the cliff notes are when in doubt DR. Bronner!
Our Gear List:
This is a short list of the gear that we use that helps us in our mission for staying clean(ish)!
Wide Mouth Water Bottle - Nalgene Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle
Shower - Nemo Helio Pressure Shower
Shower Kit - REI Muy Grande Shower Kit
Medicine Cabinet Door mod - Rhino Designs