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Living a nomadic lifestyle is one of the most amazing things you can do with your life, but there are things you need to arrange. Everyone who lives a nomadic lifestyle once asked:

“Where is a public shower near me?”

It can sometimes be challenging to locate public showers, so we have done all the research so you do not have to. The first thing is always remember that making friends along the way is an excellent way to find showers. Word of mouth is the best way to learn about different locations for cleaning yourself up. We always say keep your ears to the ground and your eyes wide open.

Through this article, we will learn how to include regular showering as you live your life on the road. Also, I’ll share my personal experience.

We have found some clever, cheeky, and extremely inventive ways to wash while you are on your journey. As they say, living in a campervan is an amazing experience, but you must learn how to do tasks you once took for granted. So, here are 20 public shower options near you while traveling.

1. Couchsurfing

Thaipusam celebration in Kuala Lumpur

One of the first rules of showering when you are living from your van is never to be afraid to ask: “Where are free showers near me?” By asking other van lifers what they do when smelling a little stale, you can find loads of great places to shower. One of the most popular ways nomads who live in their campervans shower is through Couchsurfing. This is a fantastic way to get in the shower when you stay at someone’s home. You can arrange this online in the town you are staying in.

On one of my trips from Thailand to Malaysia, I used Couchsurfing. My wife and I stayed in a young couple’s apartment in Kuala Lumpur. Not only were we allowed to stay there for free, but they also met us at the airport, gave us a city tour, showed us the best restaurants, and we attended the Thaipusam celebration together. And then they took us to the airport.

2. Truck Stops

Truck Stops

These establishments have been an excellent solution for millions of van lifers over the years. You may be surprised at how clean and sophisticated truck stop showers are nowadays. The days of them being called dirty, small, full of grime hair cleaning holes are over. Using a Pilot Flying J truck stop is an excellent way to get cleaned up before heading back on the road. The downside to these shower facilities is that you will need to pay at least $12. These truck stops can be found all over America and offer good facilities, plus a place to park up and stay for the night. Another advantage of staying at night at a truck stop along your route is that you can grab some hot food too.

3. Gyms

Shower in gym

Googling “free gym showers near me” is another effective way to find a warm, clean and comfy place to wash. You can get a membership, which will not cost too much. Facilities like Planet Fitness operate all over the States, so you will never be far away from one of their establishments. The cost per month is somewhere in the region of $30 every month, which is not too bad. When you use gym showers, they are pretty good quality, and you can even lift some weights beforehand if you wish.

It is even possible to get a free trial pass to check out the facility before joining. I did that a couple of times. This way you can get not only a free shower, but sometimes even a jacuzzi and sauna!

4. Beaches

Beach shower

If you are traveling across the coast, why not google “public beach shower near me”? These are ideal for a quick clean with your bathing suit on. These are dotted along the coast across the US, so you will eventually come across a beach. Do not expect too much privacy when you are taking a shower on a public beach, but it will get the job done.

5. Campgrounds and RV Parks

Campgrounds and RV Parks

By paying for a night at a campsite along your journey, you will have access to some showers. These showers may not be the cleanest you have ever seen, but they will work. It is a good idea to make sure you wear slippers when you enter an RV shower facility. Our advice would be to visit one of these facilities off-season. You will get fewer people and undoubtedly be cheaper on the wallet. Using a campsite or RV park will cost around $20 to $50 per night. You may find the cost cheaper if you are ex-military or a senior citizen. It is also possible to buy memberships for National RV parks. This would give you a discounted rate.

6. Community Center Swimming Pools

Community Center Swimming Pools

If you come across a swimming pool on your travels, you know you will have a place to shower. All community pools want clean people getting into their swimming pools. Therefore, you are expected to shower before entering the pool. Finding a small town swimming pool will be cheaper than a larger city, so bear that in mind. You can often get day passes or weekly passes. It all depends on how long you will be in the area.

7. Laundromats

Laundromats

It is not only cleaning your clothes that you can use laundromats for. You will occasionally find showers in these establishments, and they are a fine way to get cleaned up. There is one near Lake Quinault in Washington which offers services for backpackers. What makes this a good idea is that you can kill two birds with one stone. You can wash your clothes while washing yourself at the same time. These types of showers are usually coin-operated facilities. The cost can vary from 25 cents per minute to a dollar. Bear in mind these are not usually the cleanest places to take a shower, so wear your sandals.

8. Boat Marinas

Boat Marinas

If you drive across a boat marina, you will surely find some public showers. The best places to find these are when you see large bodies of water. They often will have shower facilities for those who live aboard their boats. So using these facilities is a wise idea as they are pretty clean and not too expensive. In some cases, you may get lucky and find places that offer free showers. If it is a paid facility, it will not break the bank. We always recommend chatting with anyone you see living aboard their boat for tips and asking them: “Are there any free showers available near me?”

9. Hostels

Hostels

If you want to find a place where they understand the plight of nomads, find a hostel. In our experience, if you ask the receptionist at a hostel that you need a shower, 9 times out of 10 they will agree. It is always better to ring the hostel before you arrive to ask beforehand. In many cases, you will get a free shower; if not, it may cost $5. These types of showers are clean and offer good services. It is also a wise idea to try and meet new people in a hostel. You will be surprised how much helpful information you can pick up in these places.

10. University Campuses

Campus University

Some universities allow public access to their sports facilities, which may include showers. Many universities in the US have gyms that include shower facilities. There are also communal bathrooms with showers in dormitories or residence halls. Many unis also have outdoor facilities such as recreational areas or sports fields which provide showers for students who engage in physical activities. If you are wondering: “Where to take free showers near me?” by looking on the map, try to locate universities. If you drive past them, stop and check if you can have a wash for free.

11. A Yoga Studio

A Yoga Studio

Trying to find free or cheap showers near me? Search for new yoga studios that have just started and offer free classes. Believe it or not, a yoga studio is a smart way to get clean after days of travel. Often, these establishments will have shower facilities that can be used after a class. Taking part in their free classes allows you to not only shower but stretch your back after sitting for a long time.

12. Portable Showers

Portable Showers

If a solar shower is not for you, then try a portable shower. These can be rather expensive, but if you use it enough, you will certainly get your money’s worth. You can buy a Rinse kit or the Geyser shower. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, then why not try going to home depot and buying a bug sprayer. You can add hot water to this, and you have a cheap alternative. A road shower is another way to take a shower if you place it on your van roof.

13. Use a River or Lake

River or Lake

You can not beat being out in nature and taking a natural bath. You will come across many lakes and rivers when you live a nomadic life, so there are opportunities everywhere. In the summer months, diving into a nice river or lake is wonderful. You can wash off all your sweat and grime in no time. Natural water is the best way to clean the body, so you will not require any cleaning products. In fact, never use any of your soaps or cleaning products in a natural river or lake. This will be harmful to the waterlife and is a big No No.

14. Bike Wash Shower

Bike Wash Shower

Well, why not? If the bike gets clean, why not you? Being a traveler, you need to take advantage of everything you come across, and bike showers are available. You will find trails and bike parks along many traveling routes, so grit your teeth and be prepared for cold water. It is worth remembering that you should never hog these, as people on their bikes will not be amused.

15. Baby Wipes

Baby Wipes

These are not only for babies. You can reap the benefits of baby wipes when you are on the road. People who head to music festivals across the globe will know all about the advantages of baby wipes. These wipes are great ways to get clean in the right areas while you are out and about. The best thing about using baby wipes is that they are so small you can fit them in your pocket. You can buy them for very cheap and keep lots in your van.

16. Sinks

Sinks

You may laugh, but it works, and it works very well. You can find a sink in various places while traveling in the US. Just stop at a gas station, and there will be a WC where you can wash yourself. It is even possible to wash yourself when you shop at Walmarts. There are always toilets in Walmart, so it is a convenient option to get cleaned up fast.

17. State Parks or Public Parks

State Parks or Public Parks

If you drive past small parks, your chances of finding a public shower is pretty low. However, when driving past bigger city parks, google “Public shower park stall near me” and you may get positive results. While driving, it would be useful to contact the park management and ask if showers are working and free. Larger parks with extensive recreational facilities usually have large and clean public showers especially those with sports fields or campgrounds.

18. Nudist Retreats

Nudist Retreats

This is something you will never forget if you take a shower at a nudist retreat. These retreats often have bathrooms, hot tubs, showers, and pools, and, of course, plenty of naked men and women. You can pay for a day pass and access everything you desire. If seeing nude people scares you, it is best to stay away.

19. Use a Local YMCA Center

Local YMCA Center

These establishments are ideal to get nice and clean in a safe environment. These are very affordable, and you will find these centers dotted everywhere. You will be able to buy a cheap day pass for the YMCA. Once you have a day pass, you can use the gym, pool, and showers. In some states you will find a day pass will cost $10, a fantastic deal if you ask me.

20. DIY Portable Shower

DIY Portable Shower

If you are quite creative and want to have a shower at a hand’s reach all the time, you can make your own portable shower for under $30. So what will you need? 

  • 1 large water container
  • 1 flexible hose (food-grade is preferable)
  • 1 portable shower head or nozzle attachment
  • 1 battery-powered or foot-operated pump 

Start with filling the water container with the desired amount of water. Make sure it is clean and suitable for holding drinking water especially if you have babies. Attach the hose and  shower head. If you want your shower to be effective, consider using a pump to pressurize water. Now test the system to make sure there are no leaks and that water flows smoothly from the shower head. If your privacy is essential and you have room in your van to store it, buy a shower enclosure or a shower curtain.

A few more DIY portable camper shower “how to do”

Portable DIY camp shower with hand pump.

It’s very easy to do. You don’t need many tools.
 
It is completely manual and does not require electricity. I have the same one and it took me about 30 minutes to make it. You can choose what size water tank you need. Small ones (1 gallon) can be useful for surfers, and also when you need to wash your feet after a beach or even take a full shower. A bigger water tank is about 3 gallons and it may even be enough for your van.
 
I love this shower. Sometimes I take it when I go surfing so I can wash my feet afterwards.
 
Watch the video below to see DualEx’s step-by-step instruction:

Portable DIY camp shower with electric pump

This DIY shower is not that small and has an electric pump. Probably, it’s one of the best DIY showers for vanlife if you don’t want to bother yourself with hand pumping.

Conclusion

Living in a campervan gives you many things. A different perspective on life, having the chance to meet new friends, and a freedom that is unexplainable. If you are thinking of starting a journey of a lifetime or want to change your life and live in a van, do it. Never let the minor issue of finding a place to wash stop you. There are plenty of ways to get clean on the road. You will probably find that most travelers do not take a daily shower. This is the norm for most people who live a normal type of life, but for van lifers, it is not. You have to remember that even if you have a shower in your campervan, it takes a lot of water and power. So the next time you ask yourself: “Where are free or cheap public shower places near me?” you have plenty of effective solutions!

And if you’re on the way to transforming your van into a camper van, our DIY camper van conversion kits will help you to do it much faster.

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