The Best Vanlife Shower Options

The Best Vanlife Shower Options

This is just a picture, don’t actually bathe in a hot spring please.


Do You Need a Vanlife Shower? 

When building out your campervan you need to decide if you need a shower in your campervan. Depending on the size of your van it is completely doable to add a small bathroom with a toilet and shower inside of your conversion van. You have the option of adding a shower inside of your van where it is built-in or you can have a portable shower that you utilize outside of your van.

When it comes to which shower you need it is up to you to decide what is important to you. You need to take a realistic look at what activities you will be doing on the road and if a shower is something you would use often. If you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, snow sports, climbing, etc. then it might be worth your time to add an indoor or outdoor shower.

 


Types of Vanlife Showers for Your Campervan

©Katie Larsen uses an attached solar shower as her Vanlife Shower of choice. To see more check out her Instagram!

Portable Vanlife Shower Options

One of the most common vanlife shower options is a portable shower. This means that your shower can be stored inside your van somewhere and you have the option to take it out when you are ready to use it. There are several different portable shower types from solar to electric pump showers.

The most popular that I have personally seen in the vanlife community is the solar shower. It is easy to store, use, and makes the most sense as you don’t need a heater or electricity. With both shower types, however, you have to warm up your water with the sun which means in the winter, it can be more difficult to shower. Not to mention in the winter you probably don’t want to be showering outside anyways! 

 

Solar Vanlife Showers

A solar shower is made up of a shower bag which holds the water, a hook to hang the bag and a hose which through gravity will allow the water to flow out of it. Again this is one of the most popular vanlife shower options I have seen on the road. It’s budget-friendly, packs easily, and is a great option for those summertime road trips when you won’t be seeing a real shower for weeks at a time.

Foot Pump Pressurized Portable Shower

A great option for taking an outdoor shower is a foot pump or hand pump portable shower. One of the top brands is the Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Shower. To use you simply set the bag full of water in the sun and then use the foot pump to pressurize the water. Users claim it takes about 10 pumps for a few minutes of water. A tip from users is not to overfill it with water so that it has air to pressurize properly and so your water pressure will be stronger.  

Battery Powered Handheld Portable Shower

Similar to the electric shower pump, you still utilize a bucket of water and it you charged it via USB. This is a great option if you don’t have a ton of room and already have a bucket for your regular trash can.

 

 

 

Solar Roof Rack Shower

Another popular option for vanlifers is to add a solar shower to your roof rack. The water is stored inside the tube that is connected to your roof rack. The water is heated and pressurized by the sun. It’a a great option for those with a roof rack. You can purchase one pre-made or there are DIY versions with PVC pipe that will cost you around $100! 


Built-in Vanlife Showers

If you are someone who is outdoors a lot or want to have the privacy of your own full bathroom then consider putting a shower into your van build (or buying one with a shower). A build in vanlife shower takes a lot of thought beforehand and you need to consider your space, not only for the shower itself but for the fresh water/ grey water tanks and a hot water heater. 

For a full understanding of what it looks like to put a water heater into your shower watch this video from van builders Vanessa and Adam


Campervan Shower Alternatives & Tools

The great thing about living on the road is that you always have options. Shawn and I don’t have a built-in shower or a portable shower. Instead, we utilize our planet fitness gym membership which is nationwide and allows us to shower in most cities on the road. Below are great options for public places to take showers on the road. 

Public Showers

On the road, you will have a few different options when it comes to finding public showers you can use for free or for a fee. 

Gym Memberships: Gym memberships are a great way to get your exercise and shower on the road. There are a few gyms that are nationwide and are under $40 a month which is pretty reasonable for unlimited showers and workouts. 

 

The best gyms for Van Lifers: 

 

  • Planet Fitness seems to be a popular choice among van-lifers and it’s pretty easy to understand why. At only $20 a month with unlimited nationwide access, it’s really a no-brainer. They have 24-hour access and 1600 nationwide locations. When you sign up for the nationwide access you are also getting the VIP membership which gives you free usage of the hydromassage which is great for relaxing after a day of driving…I mean working out. If we were really on a budget then we could have only gotten one membership and used the guest pass. Planet Fitness allows you to bring a guest with you every time you visit the gym. We really value our alone time and decided it was worth our sanity to have our own passes.
  • Gold’s Gym. Shawn really was pulling for Gold’s Gym for a bit. They have daily exercise classes, better lifting equipment, and are just a little bit nicer of a gym. However, it is around $40 a month and they simply don’t have as many locations as Planet Fitness (around 700 locations). If we had planned to stay in one part of the country it may have made sense to go with Gold’s but we have no real plans of where we want to be so we couldn’t make a decision to get a membership at a gym that we weren’t sure we would ever see on the road. One day we will get back to exercise classes but for now, we will have to make them up ourselves.
  • 24 Hour Fitness. Another popular gym for vanlifers, 24-hour fitness is heavily located on the West Coast in California, Oregon, Washington plus other states mixed intermittently. If you are only planning on being on the west coast then this might be a great option for you. For Shawn and I, we knew we would be traveling all over so 24-hour fitness wasn’t a great membership for us to choose

Other Public Vanlife Shower Options

Truck stops

Most large truck stops have showers. Pilot, Loves, TA, they all often have a shower that you can use if in desperate need. Now, this is not the most cost-effective method, showers on average run $12 and unless you have endless cash or only shower twice a month, this can really add up. Plus I don’t LOVE the idea of showering at a truck stop, I’m not above it but I’d definitely be stepping out of my comfort zone to shower while road trippers and truckers are grabbing their favorite snacks. 

 

KOA and Camping Spots

If we had planned on staying at many camping spots, then we could have easily showered there. Most camping spots and KOA‘s have showers. They may not be the most glamorous but it’s a shower and it’s included in the price of your spot to stay for the night. Unfortunately, camping spots can really add up from $10-$45+ a night and that’s a LOT for a shower.

 

Recreation Centers

In most cities, they have a public recreation center. For $5-7 you can use their showers and often their indoor/outdoor pool. Although we don’t utilize recreation centers a ton it is a great option for when there isn’t a gym around. 

 

Beach Showers

If you are near a beach then you can almost bet there are outdoor or indoor showers available for free public use. Take notice of signs as often the shower leads straight to the ocean which means you can only rinse off and cannot use soap/shampoo. 


What to do in-between Showers

 

If a shower simply isn’t available to hold yourself over you can use these products to “bathe” yourself without a true shower. My best advice is to use things such as wipes, dry shampoo, and utilizing what water you do have to help wash your body without fully washing it! Check out my latest post to read more about Vanlife Hygiene products so you can stay clean on the road!

If all of the above fail then don’t forget about all the lakes, rivers, and fresh water that you can find! Jumping into fresh water when you haven’t showered in a week or two will feel like heaven! It may not get you as clean as a regular shower but it will hold you over until your next opportunity! 

vanlife shower

vanlife shower

vanlife shower

vanlife shower


If all of the above fail then don’t forget about all the lakes, rivers, and fresh water that you can find! Jumping into fresh water when you haven’t showered in a week or two will feel like heaven! It may not get you as clean as a regular shower but it will hold you over until your next opportunity!

Vanlife Toilet Options for Campervans

Vanlife Toilet Options for Campervans

We have been traveling in our van since August of 2018 now and still to this day one of the top questions we get asked about vanlife is “Where do you go to the bathroom?”. There are many ways to solve the bathroom issue on the road and so many people do it differently. If you are deciding what vanlife toilet option is right for you one of the main factors is going to be comfort. If you are traveling solo, for instance, I would recommend making your toilet a priority. No one wants to worry about a bathroom emergency in the middle of the night by yourself. If space is a main priority you may not want to utilize the precious space you have for an unnecessary portable toilet. No matter what your priorities we have laid out all your vanlife toilet options so that you can make an educated decision!

Do You Need a Toilet in Your Campervan? 

 

When deciding whether you want to have a toilet in your campervan you really need to layout why you want or need one. Depending on your needs and where you will be spending your time, a toilet may or may not make sense for you. 

A big pro is convenience- there is nothing like having your own bathroom. You are more comfortable, it feels cleaner and you don’t have to stress when you really have to go. When you are in the wild you don’t have to go dig a hole and if you do go poop then you have a container to keep it in until you can dispose of it. 

Another key thing to think about is safety. If you are solo you need to decide if you will feel comfortable when you have to go to the bathroom and it’s late at night. When you have your own toilet you can stay safe inside your van.

A big con is that you have to clean it and it’s possible to will stink. You’ve got to find somewhere to dump your toilet at some point and pay for that dump fee. If it’s compostable you have to keep up with putting kitty litter or chips in it, if not it might start smelling. Not to mention you are already in such a small space that you have to worry about where to put the toilet. 

©Megan Cable Proudly showing off her Vanlife Toilet Option. Check out her Instagram!


Where to put a toilet in your campervan? 

A big reason we personally do not have a toilet in our campervan is that we simply didn’t have the space. No matter which toilet you decide is right for you, you’ve got to find a way to build it into the van. Which is why I personally recommend deciding before you build your van whether you will want to incorporate a toilet into your van. Building a space into your van for your toilet will help disguise it and make your space feel cleaner and cozier. 

Although space is limited I have seen some pretty creative ways of hiding your portable toilet in your campervan. You don’t have to have a toilet in plain sight if you decide to have one in your camper. 

  • Between the two front seats. When we were considering a toilet Shawn did the measurments and found that the thetford toilet can fit between the Sprinter two front seats. You had just enough room to make a box that surrounded the toilet and made it seem like an extra seat instead of a toilet in your front cab. 
  • Inside your shower. If you are going to build a shower into your van then it only makes sense to have your toilet inside of that same room. It keeps it out of the way and everything in one space. 
  • Hidden in Bench Seating. So many vanlifers have their toilet inside of seating. Especially if you are building a compostable toilet then you will want to build it into the van. As seen in the pictures from Megan Cable below her toilet (non-compostable) is hidden inside of bench seating. It even has cushions on top of the seating so when the box lid is closed you would have no idea that a toilet was inside!

 

Images by © Megan Cable


Types of Vanlife Toilets for your campervan

 

The next decision you have to make is what kind of vanlife toilet you want to invest in. There are many options from devices as simple as a bucket and as complex as a $1000 compostable toilet. There are options for every budget and for every van build.

You don’t have to spend a bunch of money or have a fancy toilet in order to incorporate a toilet into your campervan. You can spend as little as $30 and have a Luggable Loo bucket. Another great option is to buy a Lowe’s a bucket for a few dollars and simply use it as your trash can AND your toilet in an emergency. You simply take out the trash put a new trash bag in and go poop when it’s an emergency. 

If you want something a little bit nicer than a bucket then the Clean waste portable toilet is a great option that is comfortable but not too pricey. 

With all of these options, I don’t recommend going pee in them. Only utilize them for going poop and always put a new bag in and tie it up when finished to avoid stinking up your van. 

 


Best Compostable Vanlife Toilets 

 

From the beginning, Shawn wanted a compostable campervan toilet. When he told me what a compostable toilet was, I was completely turned off. I assumed it stank, was dirty and was something I wanted no part of. Not to mention to purchase one it can cost around $1000 bucks! However, there are alternatives and you can make one yourself for around $100 and they are actually quite amazing. Our friend BennyAriVanLife made one themselves and you would never know that it was even there nevertheless that it smelt. The genius behind their compostable toilet is that there is a fan that leads outside the van that makes sure that any smells stay outside the van. To learn how to build your own DIY toilet, check out Vanessa and Adam’s video on how to build your own compostable toilet. 


Best Cassette Vanlife Toilets 

 

A cassette toilet is a budget-friendly portable campervan toilet that many van lifers have inside of their van. It has two separate parts keeping the waste sealed so you do not have to smell it. You can either put chemicals in it to take care of your poop or you can use a bag and keep your waste in there until you can dispose of it properly. It is supposed to be easy to clean and is around 13.5” tall and 15 inches wide. A great way to hide it is to create a box that fits in between your two front seats and can be moved slide into the back when you need to use it!


Campervan and Vanlife Toilet Alternatives & Tools

 

If you were to ask a man if he has ever peed in a bottle, chances are the answer would be yes. If you were to ask if a woman has ever peed in a moving car, odds are no. It’s simply not possible without a toilet. But sometimes we really have to pee. For instance, late at night, I have to pee- like 2 times. Early morning, I REALLY have to pee. In the first few weeks of van life, I simply held it until we were able to find a bathroom. Not the most enjoyable experience or healthy for that matter. But I survived and it wasn’t so bad.

But what kind of life am I living if I can’t have a beer with Shawn at night because I’m afraid I’ll have to pee? Not one I’m willing to live. So until I can convince Shawn that I need a campervan toilet, I’ve “manned” up and bought an invention that frees women of having to squat: The She-Wee.

The she-wee is a genius invention that simply gives me the same power as a man, I can pee standing up into a bottle. Gross, yes but sometimes necessary. There are a few models, one that is made of silicone and can be easily folded up and the other is made of hard plastic. The silicone one is nice because I can clean it and then hide that sucker in shame, but honestly, it’s terrifying. Every time I pee I am holding on to it for dear life in fear that I will feel pee running down my leg. Seriously men have no idea. Shawn once told me (pre-she wee) to “just aim”. Yeah ok Shawn, because it works that way. The plastic She-wee would probably give me more confidence that there wasn’t a leak and I could pee fear-free.

Nevertheless, I am happy with my silicone she-wee and will continue to use it in emergencies when a bathroom is simply not an option or until Shawn finally pities me enough to buy me a $99 toilet.

For more information on methods to stay hygenic in a van check out my post on Vanlife Hygiene Products. 


Alternative Vanlife Toilet options

 

If you choose to opt-out of the above-vanlife toilet options then fear not there are so many options on the road for going to the bathroom. Just like any road trip, you simply have to figure it out. Basically you think about all the places that offer free bathrooms and utilize those! A great resource for finding bathrooms on the road is the app Flush which will pull up free restrooms in your area ranked by cleanliness and cost. To see the top vanlife apps check out my post Top vanlife apps for your road trip. 

Using the restroom outside – If you are out in the wilderness for long periods of time then your best bet is to use the bathroom outside. Make sure you are in areas where the ground is capable of composting your poop and ALWAYS abide by LNT principles for using the bathroom. 

Rules for using the bathroom outside: 

  • Find a space 200 feet from water sources, campsite, and trails.
  • Try to find a site with deep organic soil.
  • Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter
  • Cover with natural materials when finished.
  • If you use toilet paper or wipes, bring them back with you and dispose of in the trash! Do NOT leave it behind!

These basic rules come from Leave No Trace, to learn more about going to the bathroom outside visit their website

Free restrooms Ideas: 

Truck stops 

Starbucks

Grocery Stores 

Rest Areas 


When it comes to going to the bathroom on the road there is not one answer but rather many! What vanlife toilet option do you use in your campervan? Anything I have not listed? Let me know in the comments!

 

Other posts you might enjoy: 

Top Vanlife Apps

Top Vanlife Hygiene Products 

Vanlife Wifi Options: How to stay connected on a Roadtrip

Vanlife Wifi Options: How to stay connected on a Roadtrip

If you are considering vanlife then you might be thinking about how you will get your internet. Shawn and I have been on the road since 2018 and have traveled from the east coast to the west coast and back again. During this time we have been living and working on the road which means we are constantly traveling to different areas of the country. Since we make a large majority of our income online, we must have a connection to the internet to get work done. Unless you hook up a mobile wifi system to your rig chances are you will need to figure out how to get wifi on the road. From paid to free here are my top Vanlife wifi options. 

Paid Vanlife Wifi Options

There are quite a few mobile hot spot options that you can choose for your vanlife wifi option. If you already have a cell phone plan then chances are you can add on a mobile hotspot from around $20 a month depending on your data plan. To get the best hotspot I recommend checking out the different coverage from each carrier and deciding which carrier has service in the areas you will be most. 

The prices below are assuming you are a new customer who does not currently have a plan with the cellular carrier. 

Top Mobile Hotspots for Vanlife Wifi

Verizon Jetpack– By far Verizon Jetpack is the most used hotspot that I have seen in the vanlife community. They have a good reputation for having coverage in the more rural areas where vanlifers often can be. It is a great option if you do not want to use your hot spot on your phone or if you have a low data plan on your cell. The Jetpack cost ranges from $15/month for 1gb of data, $60 for 10gb, $80 for 15gb, $90 for 20gb, $120 for 30gb, and $150 for 40gb.

AT&T Nighthawk– If you are an AT&T subsciber then this might be a good add on option for you. It’s a hotspot and router giving you more options for creating wifi in any situation. However, Shawn has AT&T and he hardly has service in remote areas. It is also being rated as the number 3 network as far as coverage according to whistleout. It costs $50 per month for 10gb of data. 

Sprint MiFi 8000– Sprint offers a basic MiFi card running from $30-$60 a month with 10gb,50gb, and 100gb of high-speed data respectively. 

T-mobile Alcatel LINKZONE HotspotT Mobile also has its version of a mobile hot spot running from $35/mo: 5GB $60/mo: 15GB $85/mo: 20GB $100/mo: 25GB.

Other Vanlife Wifi Options

Prepaid hotspots Another option is a prepaid mobile hotspot. These can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Amazon, and cellular stores. The upside is that you purchase the hotspot and buy data as need so no data goes wasted. However, the downside is worrying about constantly refilling your data when most plans only cost around an additional $20 or so for a mobile hotspot. I would only get a prepaid mobile hotspot if you didn’t want to commit to a contract or pay for a high priced device. Verizon Prepaid Hotspot offers three current devices that you can choose from on a pre-paid plan. From $50-$200 per device and a data plan of $30-$50 a month for up to 30GB of data.

Cell Phone Hotspot. Using your mobile hotspot to connect your computer to wifi is a fantastic option if you are trying to budget on the road. Depending on your plan it may not cost at all or cost very much to use your data. The downside is that often I need to use my phone and my computer at the same time and this can slow them both down. 

 


Vanlife Wifi Booster Options

Assuming you are using a hotspot device then you might not be near a city and finding signal can be quite tricky. You might have great signal one mile before your campsite and then wham! You suddenly have 3G or no bars at all. This is where a wi-fi booster can come in handy. Although we personally do not have one YET, I have sat in some people’s vans who have the wifi-booster and can attest that it works. 

Now, they aren’t miracle workers, you aren’t going to be zooming along when no one else has a signal. However, it has saved me whenever there was no way I could have worked on the small amount of signal I had. It was still slow, but it worked. I recommend really thinking over how often you are in weak signal and you REALLY REALLY need to get work done. Wifi boosters cost around $600 and take a little bit of work to install. 


Free Vanlife Wifi Options

The amazing thing about being on the road is you can move! If you don’t have a signal and need it, then chances are you are able to move down the road to get some wi-fi. When we are in cities or even small towns we often find places to get out of the van and get some work done with free wifi. 

Library 

Getting free wifi at a library seems so glaringly obvious yet, I didn’t utilize public libraries until my friend Katie from So We Bought a Van suggested we head to the library in Moab one day. Libraries are so fantastic; they are quiet, free, and you can stay there as long as you want. Personally I get super antsy and feel guilty if I take up a spot at a coffee shop for too long and feel the need to buy something else or move even though I just got in the groove. Libraries are usually open late hours and no one cares if you need to stay for a while. Another tip is so many libraries have study rooms to reserve even if you don’t have a library card with them. You simply ask the librarian and you can typically reserve them for two-hour increments. 

Coffee Shop

Visiting local coffee shops is one of my favorite parts of being on the road. A local coffee shop says so much about a town and it’s community and I find it so enjoyable to hop in and see what they have to offer. I typically will research the area and find the best coffee shops that are set up for laptop workers. Check online to see if they have wifi and use Google or Yelp to scope out pictures that will show you if they have much room. 

Especially with Mom and Pop shops I always purchase an item from them and try not to stay more than two hours. It’s a great way to get out of the van for a few hours and experience new scenery. 

Breweries 

I love a good beer, and tasting local beer right from the brewery is another perk of living on the road. Most Breweries have great wifi and if you visit during the day chances are its super chill, quiet and a great place to get a little work done. Be careful though, you might find yourself drunk and getting work done! Maybe try a pale ale over an IPA.


Other places to get free vanlife wi-fi

  • Wal-mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot – So many larger retail chains offer free wi-fi. If you get lucky and find a spot close to the door you MIGHT be able to hop on the free wifi. Honestly, it’s not ideal but sometimes you’re in an emergency wifi situation! 
  • Starbucks- Starbucks is a tried and true option for getting work done. There are so many of them even in small towns and you can always count on your drink tasting the same. 
  • Bars – Check out the local bars often they have wifi! Just like breweries, during the day they often are super slow and have great wifi speed and you get to experience a piece of the city you are in! 
  • Restaurants – Although my grandmother told me never to try and multitask while eating, you COULD check out the local restaurants for lunch while getting some laptop work finished! 
  • Xfinity Wifi- If you have maintained your Xfinity subscription while on the road you may notice their wifi pop up as an option in bigger cities. If you have an Xfinity plan then you are able to access free wifi from so many locations. They also have paid plans you can choose from if you were in a real bind! 

 

The Best Vanlife Hygiene Products to Stay Clean on the Road

The Best Vanlife Hygiene Products to Stay Clean on the Road

We have been living in a van since 2018 and have discovered that as much as we would like to pretend you can still live a semi-normal life, the truth is everyday conveniences aren’t always available. Things like a running toilet and warm shower may not be in the next room and you have to find alternative methods to keep yourself clean. We personally use Planet Fitness as our shower but when we are out in a National Park or in the wilderness for a few weeks that might mean we don’t have access to the gym shower and have to make do. There are weeks when we aren’t able to find a shower and times when we have to pee in a bottle. It’s not all beautiful but it doesn’t have to be stinky either. When we find ourselves in a bind and unable to find a shower there are a few hacks to make sure you are staying clean and fresh (as possible anyway). The best way to stay clean is by using some of the vanlife hygiene products that we personally recommend. Whether you are using a gym shower, a van shower, or no shower at all we hope this vanlife hygiene products help you stay clean!


Body Wipes

 

Recommend by my girl Katie, @soweboughtavan, Dude Wipes are a great way to stay clean when you don’t have access to a shower. Dude Wipes are basically a huge baby wipe that is made for the in-between shower moments. They are 25% larger than normal wipes and are made with plant-based fibers. Also being fragrance-free which is a big one for us as I hate most smells and don’t enjoy smelling like a baby’s butt. Despite the name, they are great for us ladies too. I’ve found them at both Amazon and Wal-Mart. 

They also have powder available as well to help you stay fresh and clean. 


Aluminum-Free Deodorant 

 

I’m going to throw this one out there just in case you forgot about deodorant. Since you are living in a van and not able to shower every day it’s my opinion that if possible you should still wear deodorant. I get it though, you don’t want to clog up your pores with something that could possibly cause issues for you down the road. This is why I only use aluminum-free deodorants. Unlike a TON of Natural deodorants that I have tried Native actually works and keeps me mostly smelly free. Bonus: I have sensitive skin so I use the Cucumber Melon sensitive version. Another great option is Degree for men which if you use the deodorant only and NOT the Antipersperant then it doesn’t have aluminim in it either and is more budget friendly than brands like Native or Schmidts. 


Bathroom Wipes

 

Whether you have an indoor toilet or have to use other means for a restroom, you still need toilet paper. To keep everything fresh and clean we use Cottonelle Wipes. They are right in the middle for pricing and they are pretty great quality. *If you are going to the bathroom outside ALWAYS remember to pack it out! 

Don’t want to use wipes at all? Check out this highly-rated portable bidet that would be great to stow away in your backpack for when you are camping without restrooms! 

 


Dry Shampoo

 

Dry shampoo is a long hair person’s best friend. I have been using dry shampoo since before vanlife and I will be using it for long afterward. Dry shampoo is a way to keep your hair cleaner for days after you have washed it with traditional shampoo and water. Dry shampoo comes in two main types: Aerosol and powder form. Honestly, the aerosol works way better but powdered dry shampoo is smaller and frankly better for the environment. To apply you simply spray or place powder a few inches from your scalp and then rub into your hair until it disappears. Living proof dry shampoo is my absolute favorite but for how much you are getting the price is pretty steep. I have Bumble and Bumble dry shampoo and it has lasted me honestly for years and for the price it is definitely worth it. For only around $5-6 dollars you can also get Batiste Dry Shampoo which will do the job as well. 

 


Dental Hygiene Products

 

These are basics for life but I wanted to drop my favorite dental hygiene products in here so you had them handy. Staying clean on the road wouldn’t be possible without great dental hygiene and it begins with the basics: Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. As a vanlifer, you most-likely care about the environment which is why the tooth brush is eco-friendly. Tom’s Toothpaste is also eco-friendly and can be put into your grey water tank. 


FaceWipes

 

In a perfect world, you would be able to wash your face with face soap and warm water every night. Unless you have a water heater then I’m guessing you don’t take the time to boil water and properly wash your face every.single.night. At least I don’t which is why I like to have proper face wipes or products on hand to keep my pores clean and refreshed nightly. I personally like to make my own wipes using basic cotton rounds, lavender, and witch hazel but if you aren’t into DIY I would check these brands out! From basic wipes to washcloths that only need water to get your face makeup free these vanlife hygiene products will keep your face clean!


Feminine Hygiene Products

 

If you are a woman and still have a monthly period then you might be worried about how you will handle your cycle on the road. It’s a great age to be in as there are so many incredible products out there that make having a period much easier whether in day to day life or when traveling. There are products such as a diva cup that allow you to ditch tampons and only empty your cup a few times a day or you could opt for period underwear such as Thinx which allow you to go completely device free and only wear panties which soak up any blood. The downside to Thinx is you would need to wash them out that day which might be more difficult in a van. 

Vanlife Hygiene products


Vanlife Smelly Feet Products 

 

Hiking, running, and climbing are all super popular outdoor activities in the vanlife community. They are also activities where you might wear socks and shoes which typically lead to super smelly feet. This can be a major problem in such a small space. This is why I recommend taking a few measures to keep your feet and shoes smelling fresh. The first step is to clean those smelly feet with baby wipes. Next, if your shoes smell use a natural foot powder or spray. 

 


Vanlife Dirty Laundry Hacks

 

After all of the steps you have taken to stay clean, the most important thing you can do to keep your van from smelling is to properly stow away any dirty clothing until you can wash it. Throwing your dirty laundry in an open bag is only going to keep you and your van smelling like a filthy locker room and there is nothing more embarrassing than showing your van when laundry day is overdue. I recommend a simple sinch sack or proper laundry bag which will seal away all those smells safely tucked away. To top it off we personally add shoe deodorizers to the bag. Check out my post on vanlife laundry tips to learn more about doing laundry in a van. 


Top Vanlife Hygiene Shower Items 

 

When you do get the chance to shower, it’s super important that you get clean! I know this should go without saying but when you have been hiking and outdoors for stays without a shower it means you’ve got to take advantage of the warm water. To make sure you take down a couple of layers of skin we recommend you utilize a few items including face scrubs, washcloths, and scalp scrubbers. 

The newest addition to my shower bag is the Korean washcloth which serves as a face and body scrubber. It even has a spot to either put soap or as a pocket for your hand to really get to scrubbing. 


As you can see there are tons of vanlife hygiene products out there to keeping you feeling clean and fresh on the road. From body wipes to Korean scrubs you don’t have to worry about stinking up your van during those long weeks in the mountains. Do you have any favorite vanlife hygiene products? Let me know in the comments!

 

Other posts you might enjoy: 

Top Vanlife Apps

Top Campervan Cooking Options

 

 

The Top Vanlife Apps for the Ultimate Road Trip

The Top Vanlife Apps for the Ultimate Road Trip

When beginning your Vanlife journey it can be a bit overwhelming. When we first hit the road a year ago we had NO IDEA what we were doing. We weren’t sure where we would park, where we were going, or how to even live in such a tiny space. We underestimated a lot of the challenges and found ourselves feeling sad and confused. There are so many logistics to vanlife that you may not think about when you first the road. So many little things go wrong and it’s always so surprised at how busy you are. To finding free overnight parking, buying groceries almost daily, and when little things go wrong (which they do so often), you find yourself at the end of the day wondering what you accomplished. So many of these vanlife apps will help ease that tension and make your vanlife journey so much smoother. Trust me and check these vanlife apps out especially when you are first starting out on your road trip! 

The Vanlife App

 

The Vanlife App was started BY VANLIFERS with VANLIFERS in mind. They wanted to have an inclusive app that would bring the community together. It includes free camping sites, dump stations, water refill stations, laundromats, showers and you can even filter it by vehicle type, wifi availability, handicap accessibility, cell phone service and more. 

If you opt for the paid version, you have access to the community. They wanted the Vanlife App to be more than just a resources app but rather a way to connect vanlifers with each other. You are able to see when someone else is in your area (you can turn this on and off) and are even able to add them as a connection and message them! Life on the road can be super lonely, even with a partner and it is so nice to be able to connect with other like-minded people! 

The only downside is that it doesn’t work when you don’t have cell service so make sure and do your planning beforehand! 

Cost of The Vanlife App: Free version and community based version: $35.99/Year

Campendium

 

When you are out on BLM land, National Forest land, or National Parks it can seem overwhelming to find all the best places to camp. Campedium like many apps relies on users to input the best places to camp. It is one of the best vanlife apps I have found for finding the best free and paid camping spots out on public lands. It includes reviews on whether a car, van, or rv can access the spot, whether there is cell service broken down by carrier, whether pets are allowed plus individual reviews on the campsite. The app also includes finding water, dump stations, propane, RV parks, and more. 

Cost of Campendium: Free

IOverlander

 

IOverlander is very similar to Campedium as its best use is for finding free overnight parking. However, IOverland focuses more on the stealthing aspect of camping in your car rather than finding campsites on recreational land. When I am in a city and need a great spot to overnight park this is when I pull up Ioverlander. Users who stealth more tend to input more on this app in my opinion. However, you can still find great camping spots on BLM land and other recreational lands. It also includes amenities such as water, dump stations, propane, RV parks, and more. 

You can use IOverlander when you do not have signal which is a huge benefit as a traveler. 

Cost of IOVERLANDER: Free

Harvest Host

 

A recommendation from Vanessa and Adam, popular Vanlife Youtubers and custom van builders recommend the app Harvest Hosts.  The App helps you find Vineyards, Breweries, Distilleries, Orchards, or farms that allow free parking to self-contained Van or RVs. Most of the time the spots are free with the assumption that you will be a patron of their business.

I personally love going to a good brewery or winery and it’s a bonus that you don’t have to worry about driving afterward (Because don’t drink and drive people)!

Cost of Harvest Host: The downside is that the app does cost but for $79 a year, you will save a ton on camping fees (sometimes up to $50).

RV ALL Stays

 

All Stays is a popular website among RVer’s and Vanlifers that is great for finding free and paid camping spots, RV Parks, Laundry services, dump stations and so much more. My favorite feature is that you can filter the maps to show you different land types including BLM, Fish and Wildlife, US Forest, and more! 

Note: RV All Stays has a phone app and website. The app is on your phone and the website is a separate purchase and has extra features and has thousands more places and added features. 

Cost of RV AllStays: $9.99 for the phone app, pro-plan website only $39.99

Gas Buddy 

 

Money to fuel your van can be a top expensive in life on the road. Shawn and I often find ourselves spending $300-$400 on months where we are traveling often. In certain parts of the country diesel and gas can be $1-2 more. It’s always so disappointing to stop for fuel and find that 2 miles down the road you could have saved 50 cents or more. That’s why we always check our apps before purchasing fuel. 

A top vanlife app for saving you money is Gas Buddy. Gas Buddy helps you find the best gas or diesel in your area. I have been using this app way before vanlife and I find it insanely useful. You can filter by gas or diesel and it is user-inputted so you are able to update it yourself if the prices are not correct.

Cost of Gas Buddy: Free

 

AllTrails 

 

One of the best parts of Vanlife is your ability to spend so much time outdoors. Although not all vanlifers hike, it is definitely a popular hobby that most vanlifers in the community share in common. To find the best hikes in your area, I always use AllTrails. You can filter the hikes by difficulty, views, elevation, and the best part is whether the trail is dog-friendly. It can be hard to find good dog-friendly hikes when you don’t know the area and ALLTrails takes the guesswork right out of it. 

Cost of Gas Buddy: Free

 

US Public Lands

 

This app is the answer to all my beginner prayers when trying to find free camping on BLM land. Honestly figuring out where to find free camping when you are on BLM land or national forest land can be super confusing. The US Public Lands App breaks down where public lands begin and private land ends. Use this app when you want to find free disperces camping. 

Although the app doesn’t specify where you can camp, it is a great way to figure out where public lands are and from there you can begin to map out an area to stay! Curious how to find free overnight camping? Check out my Vanlife Overnight Parking Guide!

Cost of Gas Buddy: Free

Open Signal 

 

 A lot of Vanlifers working remotely on the road and have our own form of wifi to use.  This means wherever you wake up really needs to have cell phone service. If not then you have to pack up and go find a spot where you can work for the day. It makes it difficult to want to find a beautiful camping spot over steal camping in a city where you know you will be able to work. Sometimes it’s just not worth the risk. 

Open Signal allows you to locate where you are going to be and find out if there is cell service in that area by showing you cell phone towers and cell coverage maps. It’s a great way to plan ahead so you don’t have to worry about getting to an epic camp spot only to discover that you have zero service and cannot get any work done! It’s also beneficial for vanlifers who are alone and aren’t comfortable being in an area where they don’t have cell service. The maps aren’t perfect but it’s a great way to have an idea of what you are driving into! 

 

Cost of Open Signal: Free

Wi-fi Finder

 

Chances are your van does not come equipped with wifi so that you can work from the road, watch Netflix, or simply surf the internet. Many use phones or have a hot spot device that we utilize to have wifi on the road. However, those devices are often limited and can run out of data. This is where finding free wifi on the road can come in handy. So many places offer free wifi to their customers. Starbucks, Grocery Stores, McDonald’s, Libraries, etc offer free wifi. The trick in an area that you are unfamiliar with is finding said free wifi. The app Wi-fi finder bridges this app. 

Wifi Finder allows you to search nearby and by inputted location to see where free wifi is available. This is great whether you are in a rush or if you are planning your trip and want to know where you will be able to access wifi and work for the day. 

Wifi-Finder Cost: Free

Roadtrippers

 

Part of any good road trip is what you do on the way. Whether it’s a great restaurant, concert, or sightseeing experience the local culture is what makes vanlife so great. This is why Roadtrippers is one of the top vanlife apps to add to your phone. Roadtrippers is similar to Trip Advisor as it breaks things down by categories; Restaurants, Hotels, Bars, Entertainment, Culture, and Fuel. The BEST thing about this app is you are able to plan out your trip by creating a route and finding places to visit along the way. You can add a restaurant and find sightseeing locations all in one app and then see your route with all your stops included! 

If you are someone who enjoys seeing funky roadside attractions or unique architecture then this app is definitely for you as it has a function just so you can find these items along the way! If you are someone who love to plan and wants to soak in as much culture as you can I highly recommend using Roadtrippers! 

Cost of Roadtrippers: Free

 

Flush 

 

If you don’t have a portable toilet in your van then you know the feeling of rushing around trying to find a public restroom when you really have to go to the bathroom. The app Flush is pretty straight forward and allows you to find bathrooms in the area. It even has directions so you can quickly click and head straight to the bathroom. The only bummer is that on the iPhone it takes you to Apple maps and doesn’t give you the option to use Google Maps. 

Tired of living without a toilet? Check out my Vanlife Toilet Options Guide!

Cost of Flush: Free

 

Instagram 

 

Instagram gets a lot of flack these days but it is still so popular for a reason. I have been able to connect with hundreds of vanlifers and get to know them through the app where I otherwise would never have met them. The beauty of Instagram is the connection you are able to form by sharing your story and sharing your story with others! If you are a vanlifer and want to meet other people on the road I highly recommend using it to make friends in the vanlife community!

Follow Us on Instagram!

Cost of Instagram: Free 

 

Ultimate Vanlife Overnight Parking Guide

Ultimate Vanlife Overnight Parking Guide

Vanlife is incredible. You get to travel all the time, see amazing spots, and do WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want (within the law). It’s an adventure I’m so lucky to be in. With all the upsides to road-tripping across the United States, van life does have its moments. Once we moved into our van, one of the most prevalent challenges we face on a daily basis is where to park. Finding free camping spots can be difficult and can often be the main problem of the day. In this post, I lay out how to research and find the top Vanlife free overnight parking and camping spots!

 

What is free camping?

 

Free camping can go by many names and have many meanings. Here are the ones that will be covered in this free vanlife overnight parking and camping guide. 

  • Dispersed– Camping in a national forest outside of a designated camping site. Typically won’t have services such as water, restrooms, fire pit etc. 
  • Stealthing/City Overnight Parking– Camping in areas such as a city where you don’t want people to know you are inside your vehicle.
  • Backcountry Camping- This typically means tent only camping and you have to backpack in. If you are wanting to remain in your vehicle then this is NOT for you. 

Rules for Free Camping:

 

Pack in and Pack out. DO NOT leave trash behind. This means your camp spot should look the same or even better than before you got there. If there is trash then do the land a favor and clean it up whether you put it there or not. 

  • Do not camp within 100 feet of any water source.
  • Only park in an existing spot.  
  • Only make a campfire if there is an existing ring and there are not any current fire bans.

The Best Places for Vanlife Overnight Parking and Camping Spots for Free

Free camping on BLM Land

 

BLM land as a van lifer is your best friend. If you don’t know, then BLM land is the Bureau of Land Management and in several states, BLM land has two different kinds of camping: Dispersed Camping and Developed Camping. Dispersed Camping is completely free to camp on and Developed Camping is often super affordable camping spots that offer amenities such as toilets, fire rings, potable water, and hookups. You can typically stay in one dispersed camping spot for up to 14 days within a 28 day period. For more rules visit: the blm site.

 

States that have BLM Land: 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

When you are looking for dispersed camping make sure you are staying on the roads (usually not the main road but rather a secondary dirt road) and parking on spots that you can tell has already been driven on and made into a spot. Often there will be a fire ring or you will see a flat spot that is worn down. When looking for spots always keep the land in mind and do not drive on places that look wild. We want to keep our lands beautiful and do not want to disturb the wildlife or local flowers. ABSOLUTELY do not park within 200 yards of freshwater sources overnight.

National Forest Land

Many National Forests have free camping sites that are available for use. These locations are typically down forest roads and you are encouraged to look for spaces that have already been used. You might see a fire ring or a pullout that looks worn. 

These are some of Shawn and my favorite spots to camp as you get to be in the wild without being near a bunch of other people. 

National Parks 

 

National parks are known for having their own paid campsites. In my opinion it can be worth it to pay for a spot while you are visiting a larger park like Yellowstone as it takes a few hours just to get inside of the park. However, often National Parks have free campsites available, even for vehicles. Your best bet is to call the ranger station and asked them about free camping if available! 

 

Overnight Parking in Cities

 

So I wouldn’t exactly call this camping but rather when you are in a city and sleeping in your vehicle it is stealthing. There are some important things to remember when you need to sleep in your car overnight: 

Some cities have banned sleeping in your car overnight. If you are caught you can be fined or jailed. I’m not trying to scare you but rather inform you. We have only gotten one knock on our door and they were super nice and simply asked us to move to the Wal-Mart down the street. 

Arrive late and leave early. It’s proper etiquette in a city to try to make yourself as scarce as possible. You are visiting an area and it isn’t a real campsite. Don’t prop your camping chairs out start cooking outside. Typically if we know we are staying in a city we will cook somewhere like a park or with a view and then head to our spot for the night. We try not to make a spectacle out of ourselves and respect the area. 

 

Rest Stops and Truck Stops

Rest stops when possible are a great option to catch some sleep for the night when you are in between destinations. As always be careful and mindful of your surroundings and stay safe! 

Free Parking at Wal-Mart

Wal-marts are known for being a popular place to stop for the night. Most Wal-Marts allow overnight parking as they expect travelers will want to come in to stock up on food and supplies. They can be rather noisy and aren’t the best place to stay but they will do if there is no other option. Plus you can’t beat a free bathroom! I will typically check on Ioverlander to make sure that the Wal-Mart allows overnight parking. Here’s a cumulative list of Wal-Marts that don’t allow overnight parking. If you aren’t sure you can always call and ask customer service. 

 

Bass Pro Shops and Cabella’s

 

Now that Bass Pro owns Cabella’s they typically allow overnight parking for RV’s and vanners. It’s another great spot to crash for a night and is typically quieter than Wal-Mart. Call ahead or check one of the apps below to see if each individual place allows overnight parking. 

 

Casino’s

 

Many Casinos allow overnight parking for visitors. Most of the time you need to go in and register to stay on their property. They aren’t usually too loud and I’ve always felt pretty safe as there are so many RV’s and van lifers there camping too! 


How to Find Dispersed Camping

 

Free camping spots

The first thing you need to do when finding dispersed camping is figuring out where BLM land is available. Often there will be signs indicating that it is BLM land but other times there is no indicator. When we are going to be in one of the above states we will do some research beforehand and find areas that have dispersed camping. Here are a few steps we take to find free dispersed camping on BLM land.

BLM Website

Van Life Apps 

Some great apps that are listed below often have BLM spots listed that are put in by users. Apps include Campendium, IOverlaner, and Vanlife App.

Go to the Ranger station

There are BLM offices in most bigger areas. They are super friendly and can help you find epic free spots in their area if it is available. They have 12 State offices that you can visit when you are in the area.


Best Apps & Websites to Find Free Camping

Our number one way to find free camping is through apps on our phone. They are crowdsourced and updated by users which keeps all the content fresh and up to date. The apps all have various features including where to find fresh water, dump stations, gas stations, etc, however, the best feature is by far the free camping finder.

IOverlander

IOverlander is one of our most-used apps for free camping. IOverlander is great as it works when you don’t have cell phone signal and is great for cities and in the wilderness. A top feature is that users are allowed to add pictures which gives you a real idea of the kind of area you are driving into and whether the views are as beautiful as the reviews are claiming.

Campendium

Campendium focuses more on actual campsites. You can filter the campsite by paid or free allowing you to have multiple options. Although not great for cities Campendium focuses on the wilderness and we have found some incredible FREE camping spots with toilets in a scenic area. My favorite part of the app is that they have a spot for cell service broken down by carrier. Since we work on the road one of the worst things about looking for spots is finding a beautiful location that has zero bars of cell service.

 

Van Life App

The Vanlife App is another great option for finding free camping, hookups, dump stations and even finding other travelers on the road! It’s a newer app that just launched in 2019 by Van lifers who wanted to connect the community. The free version allows you access to everything but finding other travelers nearby.

RV All Stays Pro

All Stays is a popular website amoung RVer’s and Vanlifers that is great for finding free and paid camping spots, RV Parks, Laundry services, dump stations and so much more. My favorite feature is that you can filter the maps to show you different land types including BLM, Fish and Wildlife, US Forest, and more! 

Note: RV All Stays has a phone app and website. The app is on your phone and the website is a seperate purchase and has extra features and has thousands more places and added features. 

Freecampsites.net

One of the first resources Shawn and I ever used, freecampsites.net often finds free camping where the other apps fail. The downside is that it isn’t an app and is hard to use on your phone.

Harvest Host

 

A recommendation from Vanessa and Adam, popular Vanlife Youtubers and custom van builders recommend the app Harvest Hosts.  The App helps you find Vineyards, Breweries, Distilleries, Orchards, or farms that allow free parking to self-contained (You don’t need a bathroom) Van or RVs. Most of the time the spots are free with the assumption that you will be a patron of their business.

I personally love going to a good brewery or winery and it’s a bonus that you don’t have to worry about driving afterward (Because don’t drink and drive people)!

The downside is that the app does cost but for $79 a year, you will save a ton on camping fees (sometimes up to $50).

 


Other Ways to Find Free Camping Spots

  • Head to the local ranger station. The ranger station is a fantastic resource for free camping, finding great hikes and learning any closures or pertinent rules for the area. The rangers are always super nice and very helpful. Simply use your maps to find the closest ranger station and hop in to say hi!
  • Call the BLM Office/Public Land Office. If you aren’t near the local public land office you can call and ask if they are able to give you advice over the phone. 
  • Ask a local. You’d be surprised by the amazing spots we have found by simply asking a local in the area. Usually this is a barista at a coffee shop we are a patron of or even a grocery store. Invest in the area and they will surprise you with their hospitality. 

Free Camping Websites  

 

Are you on the road? Do you find that it is difficult to find free camping or do you opt for paid camping spots? I’d love to hear your favorite ways to find free camping or learn how you travel! Let us know in the comments below 👇🏼

 

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👉🏼 How We Pay for Van Life

👉🏼 How to Become a Digital Nomad