If you’ve asked how to find public showers near me during your van life, we’ll cover all the best options for keeping clean in this post!
Once you’ve taken the leap of faith and decided to live in your camper van as your home on the road, you’ll need to figure out a few important things along the way.
One of the most important questions you will need to ask yourself is “Where will I be able to find public showers near me?” If you are not building a self-contained shower in your van, or you want to have other shower options so you don’t have to rely on your shower, then you’re going to need to consider the availability of nearby showers.
Life on the road can be challenging at times and when you struggle to find public showers, van life can become a chore. That’s not what it is intended to be. It should be a constant voyage of adventure and discovery – not of fighting one logistical battle after another!
It is important to note that not all of the options available to you are going to be fancy. Sometimes you will have to have an ice-cold shower. Sometimes you might only be able to take a bath in a lake using biodegradable soap. Other times you will only be able to use body wipes and dry shampoo.
One thing is for certain though – you will always be able to maintain proper personal hygiene if you know where to look. It’s easy when you know how!
Check out these 15 options below for public showers when embarking on your next road trip adventure.
READ NEXT: Check out this post to learn more about great van shower options if you want to build one for your van!
How To Find Public Showers – 15 Public Shower Options For Van Life
Below you will find a list of 15 options for various methods of having a shower whilst embarking on your van trip. Each method is explained and some examples are given of public showers available and other methods of having a free shower.
From hot tubs to natural springs to day passes at the gym, portable solar showers, and other popular public showers used by nomadic van enthusiasts.
One of the favorite locations for a nice hot shower when living in your camper van is the gym. It is recommended that you obtain a gym membership that has multiple locations such as Planet Fitness. This way, you will be able to have a hot shower or jump into one of the steam rooms countrywide, after using the workout facilities.
Having a Planet Fitness membership means that you will be able to access their 700-plus locations around the country for as little as $20 a month. Aside from keeping fit, your membership allows you to make use of their hot showers. All you need is your shower bag, towel, and flip-flops and you’re all set.
You’re also able to get day passes that allow you to use the facilities at Planet Fitness for a marginal fee. This is convenient if you don’t intend on using their showering facilities for an extended period of time.
Some gyms also offer free trials, which is great for a quick shower when passing quickly through a particular city.
Community Center/Rec. Center
A great option when stopping through a town is to pop in at the local community/rec. center. Locations such as the YMCA provide showers that are generally nice and clean and pretty cheap.
Although most cities have these facilities, they aren’t as common as gyms when searching for showers.
There are often events happening at these locations as well. This means more prior planning is required which is often difficult when you don’t know where your next location will be.
One of the best options for hot showers on the road is a truck stop. Contrary to what it may seem, showers aren’t only reserved for truck drivers. They are designed for people living on the road and their showers are some of the cleanest around.
There are many truck stops littered around the country, although their fees are unfortunately not the cheapest.
Not only do these truck stops have public showers, but also offer other facilities such as restaurants, laundromats and Wi-Fi availability. They really are a great place to stop off at, even if it’s just for a rest.
Lastly, many truck stops allow you to park your van overnight and sleep for free. This is a huge advantage when living on the road, especially when finances get a bit tight towards the end of the month.
Truck stops to keep an eye out for:
- Flying J
- Pilot Travel Center
- Love’s Truck Stops
For more information on how to make the most of showering at a truck stop, check out this post.
The very essence of van life is centered on camping philosophies and there are many established campgrounds around the country that can allow you a more formal place to camp for the night. These campgrounds offer shower facilities and sometimes even a hot tub for your hygiene maintenance.
Aside from offering showers, these campgrounds are also the perfect place to incorporate other activities such as hiking, bird watching, fishing, or mountain biking.
Southern California, for example, has many campgrounds on offer in its plethora of state parks – a definite must-stop on your road trip.
Read Next: For more information on van-friendly campgrounds, check out our post on affordable camping options.
State and National Parks
State and national parks often have shower facilities within their grounds, either as a part of the campground facilities or as a separate block.
Parks are also the perfect stop on your road trip as they have immense natural beauty worth exploring. They are the perfect location to whip out the mountain bike and cover some distance or simply walk or hike if you would prefer.
As mentioned earlier, there are often campgrounds within these parks that have wonderful shower facilities that are included in your stay. It makes showering on the road that much easier and kills two birds with one stone.
In some cases, you can purchase an affordable annual pass to access all of the state parks in a given state – ensuring that you can find a proper shower anytime you happen to be near a participating state park!
Rivers and Lakes
On a hot day in the summertime, the perfect spot for an eco bath or shower is in one of the many rivers and lakes in the country. It’s the perfect excuse to hop in, cool down, and put your eco soap to the test.
These natural showers are nature’s free gift to us so ensure that you respect them when using them. Only use soaps and shampoos that are eco-friendly to minimize your impact on them.
Or simply enjoy the refreshing water for what it is and leave the soap behind!
Check out this post on why it is better for the environment if you just use a washcloth and water and skip the soap!
Hot springs are the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter’s day and are nature’s very own hot water provider. Some are free to access, while others come with a small fee, but what better way to clean up than a dip and a wash in a natural hot spring?
Some of the paid hot springs even provide facilities for cleaning up and changing afterward. This makes the fee more than worth it.
Many van lifers make it a point to seek out all the best hot springs in the country while traveling. What better way to check off a bucket list item AND get a decent bath?
Be sure to add a stop at the hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming to your list of hot springs where you can enjoy free public access to the hot springs as well as a hot shower!
A public beach is a great place to have a free shower after a day of tanning and swimming. There’s nothing better than a cold shower after a hot day in the sun.
Most beaches have a public shower for you to use, although they are often not heated. These free showers are also great for washing your bathing suit or your wetsuit after a surf.
Do note that many times the showers are not privately enclosed so don’t plan to treat yourself to the kind of shower you might expect in other places.
A solar shower is your very own portable shower that you can attach to the outside of your van. It provides hot water by heating up the water inside by means of natural sunlight. These portable showers are relatively cheap and can always be on hand when you want them.
The downside, however, is that if there is no sun, there is no hot water. Water pressure is also an issue as they rely on gravity to perform. And sometimes a mere trickle is all you will get from the shower head.
All-in-all, a solar shower is a fantastic shower unit for the summertime. It’s free to operate, provided there is sunlight and is a fully-portable shower to use on your van road trip.
You might want to invest in a water pump for the all-around better performance of this shower and a water tank on the roof or in your van. This can be used for drinking water too.
Baby Wipes/Body Wipes
Although not a true shower per se, wet wipes and baby wipes are a great temporary measure when looking for a public shower. They are available at most shops and truck stops and are also great to have in the car for those sticky hands.
A public pool is a great place to find shower facilities. They will often have a public shower for cleaning off after your swim. This will be included in your day pass to access the pool.
These showers are often heated, but sometimes you might have to resort to a cold shower. This is, unfortunately, what you get when you’re after a cheap public shower.
A boat marina is a great place to find a public shower and they often offer quite nice facilities for a small fee.
Many showers are coin-operated so you can merely pop in a couple of coins and use the facilities.
Shower at a Friend’s
There’s nothing better than a hot shower and it’s even better when you don’t have to pay for it. Using friends’ showers is a great way to save cash on the road and is a nice break from traveling.
When spending a lot of time on the road, it’s nice to stop off at a friend’s for a couple of nights to visit. You might even be lucky enough to get your own private room and a break from the tiny living inside your van!
A hostel is also a nice way to break the travel and have a hot shower. Not only is soap provided, but they often provide towels too.
A comfortable bed, shower, and good vibes are on the cards as you meet fellow travelers. There is often a private shower, either in the room you stay in or in a communal bathroom.
Although most van dwellers don’t spend many nights away from their home on wheels, a hostel is a great, affordable way to get a break from van life while still enjoying the wonderful company of like-minded travelers.
This is a great temporary method for a quick clean, much like a bird would bathe itself. It’s a quick method of cleaning and shouldn’t replace daily showers.
A wise man once said – don’t be stinky, shower in a sinky.
But, of course, have courtesy and decency when resorting to the sink bath. Respect both the business/public facility that offers the sink as well as other patrons wanting to use it as intended. Don’t make a mess of the place and don’t strip down to your birthday suit.
We’d consider a shink bath as an absolute last resort!
Van life is certainly not everything you see on Instagram. And when it comes to keeping clean, finding a public shower can be a difficult task if you do not have a shower built into your campervan.
But there are plenty of options out there, and tens of thousands of other van dwellers who have forged a path to cleaner living by using any combination of these 15 options.
Let us know if we left any options off our list!