Hygiene / Showers
An important note about not showering everyday with my style of travel is that I mostly follow the weather. Imagine weeks or even months of Fall or Spring weather where temperatures rarely reach 80 degrees and often with low humidity. I spent May through August in the higher elevations of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California, to the Cascade Mountains of Washington, and then on to the Northern Rockies in Canada. I could count the number of 80 degree days on one hand. Besides, showers are overrated. :)
Most everyone traveling full-time that isn’t showering on a daily basis uses baby-type wipes before bedtime and first thing in the morning. I am no exception and have my own routine. I have hand sanitizer at every doorway for when entering the van after being in another establishment (store, visitor center, bathroom, etc…). With no running water in the van, my main shower days are at a Planet Fitness (PF). A black card membership ($25/mth) includes access to any PF across the US and Canada. I almost always get in a solid upper and lower body workout, followed by some time on the StairMaster or treadmill, followed by a “hollywood” shower, followed by 10-20 minutes in the massage chair, followed by some wifi time before getting back on the road. A PF stop is easily 1-2 hours. Side note: PF is a great place to refill empty water bottles at their filtered water fill station. I’ll drink 32 oz during the workout and refill it when I’m leaving. Obviously I travel in areas of the country that do not have a PF. So I’ve showered at campgrounds, community aquatic centers, YMCA, RV parks, hostels, laundromats, and when visiting friends and family. As a last resort or when I’m in the backcountry for extended periods of time, I use a bucket full of water and a usb charged pump sprayer to take a quick bird bath (have only done this twice).
Abilene TX, Pueblo CO, Boulder CO, Casper WY, Boise ID, Bend OR, Portland OR, Kennewick WA, Yakima WA, Tacoma WA, Klamath Falls OR, Reno NV, Page AZ, Phoenix AZ, Sante Fe NM, Alamogordo NM, Boerne TX, Opelousas LA, Baton Rouge LA, Hattiesburg MS, Jackson MS, Ocean Springs MS, Pensacola FL, Tallahassee FL, Marietta GA, Cartersville GA, Woodstock GA, Asheville NC, La Plata MD, Hagerstown MD, Harrisonburg VA, Lancaster OH, Alliance OH, Lawrenceburg IN, Fort Wayne IN, Frankfort KY, Little Rock AR, Texarkana TX, Tyler TX, El Paso TX, Las Cruces NM, Burlington WA, Abbotsford BC Canada, Kamloops BC Canada, Spokane WA, Pocatello ID, Farmington NM, Flagstaff AZ, Apache Junction AZ, Tucson AZ, San Angelo TX, Traverse City MI, Brainerd MN, Fargo ND, Bismarck ND, Rapid City SD, Cheyenne WY, Loveland CO, Longmont CO, Amarillo TX, Lakewood CO, and Westminister CO.
With no running water in the van comes no toilet in the van (kinda). Mostly I do what most people do when they are traveling across the country or car camping - use public restrooms. For me this includes rest areas, visitor centers, convenience stores, grocery stores, parks (city, state, national), campgrounds, when at a library, or when visiting friends and family. This could include either flush toilets, pit toilets, or porta-potty. As a backpacker, these options are pretty nice. When these options aren’t available such as boondocking on public land you dig a proper cat hole (6-8” in depth and a great distance from camp, trails, and water sources). I use a compact military fold-up style shovel and I have a compact travel bag with toilet paper (TP), wipes, and hand sanitizer. Typically I’ll dig the hole that evening for the next morning whether I use it or not. This may seem barbaric for anyone who has not been backpacking so it’s a little hard for me to relate to you not relating. Think for moment of all the thousands of people thru-hiking 4-6 months each year on the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Appalachian Trails. Now, what about an “emergency” situation? I picked up a small folding toilet seat from a sporting goods store that assembles much like the old tv trays, equipped with a smell proof bag, which works, in a pinch.