I know you’re wondering about showers. I know you’re wondering because it’s usually the first question I get asked when I tell someone I live in my van. In LA, when I’m staying put it’s easy. Time consuming sometimes, but easy.
I have a gym membership at Ballys, and so if I’m not feeling too lazy I even get a work out in with the shower. I have to confess though, this last month of work I skipped the treadmill pretty much every time and went straight for the shower.
On the road it gets trickier, and I don’t shower nearly everyday like in Los Angeles. Ballys is a nation-wide club, (part of why I joined), and any time I pass a Ballys I stop and take advantage of it. Same with friends. Whenever I happen to stay with friends you can be sure I take a shower in the morning before I leave.
Relying on Ballys and friends being well spread out across the country doesn’t quite do it though. If there are no Ballys or friends in sight then sometime around the third day since the last shower I usually give in and admit I’m going to have to pay for one somewhere. That “somewhere” depends on where I am. If I’m in a city, (and especially if I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to do online), I’ll spring for a hostel. I don’t like to do this too often since it sort of defeats the purpose of traveling in the van, but hostels have some other things worth paying for everynow again as well. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
If I’m outside of big cities then I’ve got campgrounds, RV parks or truck stops. I’ll admit I haven’t yet tried out a truck stop. I haven’t found one where the shower was less than 10 bucks, and for 10 bucks I’d rather just wait another day.
Privately owned RV parks are handy because some times they’ll let you take a shower there for a small fee. I’ve done it for 5 bucks. State campgrounds will sometimes have day-use fees.
I’ve found that campgrounds are also nice just as a reminder to slow myself down. If I’m going to pay for a campground I’m usually going to stay put for the whole time. Sometimes spending as much time as I do in the van I start feeling like I have to get going all the time. As soon as one thing’s done it’s time to move on to the next. Campgrounds, (whether day use or overnight), are nice for getting me to slow down some.
I’d say that if I’m not doing anything that gets me particularly dirty, (hiking, biking, or if the weather is just really hot and humid), then I end up taking a shower two or three times a week. Not the “normal” daily shower, but plenty to keep me feeling clean enough.
Back to hostels for a moment. When I’m so happy sleeping in the van for free and spending money on a nice lunch or dinner, (or just saving it for later), I don’t really want to spend the night in a hostel. Still, once and a while it’s nice to splurge and take care of a whole bunch of things at once, showers, wireless internet, laundry, and cravings to do some cooking.
Depending on the city a hostel has other advantages. In Albuquerque I spent two nights in a hostel, and it was nice to get out of the cold for those two nights. I’m in a hostel in Sacramento right now and I’ve found another odd advantage of the hostel. From what I’ve seen parking in this city is sort of expensive, (the government seems to have a monopoly on all the parking garages), but I’ve checked with the hostel and once I’ve checked out of the room they have no problem with me leaving the van here while I go tour around the state capitol. Based on the prices I’ve seen for parking that alone is worth about half of what I paid for the hostel.
I plan on taking a number of posts to answer the most common questions I get about living in the van. Food, cold, (I feel like I’ve given this one too short a treatment earlier), bathrooms, etc. Leave a comment if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to talk about.