AdventureFood

Vanlife Showers for the Dirtless Dirtbag — Always the Adventure

If you spend a lot of time outside urban Planet Fitness prolific areas, you’ll need to either supplement gym-provided showers to just opt out of a gym membership altogether.  We still pay for individual road showers from time to time .

This method can be a bit hit or miss, as well as expensive depending on how often you shower and the nearby options.  Since we only fully shower once a week, it’s not too bad. 

Some places will charge you a flat rate for a shower if unlimited time (typically around $5 per person). 

Others, often called coin showers, you pay for a certain amount of time. These are the ones that vary wildly. We’ve come across some that are as good as $2 / 10 minutes and some as bad as $3 / 5 minutes. Those are the ones where you get efficient at scrubbing. You can often find these by simply googling “Coin showers near me”.

Here are some common places that offer drop-in showers for road travelers

  • HOSTELS: Even though U.S. hostels aren’t much cheaper than budget hotels, they are still uniquely helpful for road travelers because most offer drop-in paid showers. The Hostel California in Bishop, CA (see our full destination guide here) for instance is THE place to shower if you’re climbing in the Buttermilks.

  • GAS STATIONS: Okay so we know that gas station bathrooms are notoriously bordering on biohazard- status. The thought of showering in one isn’t too appealing. However, every so often we’ve come across a small gas station that has showers tucked away that don’t make us want to immediately shower again.

  • PUBLIC POOLS / REC CENTERS: These are some of our favorite options and are surprisingly reliable, especially in Canada. Some charge a drop-in shower only rate and other just charge for full facility use. For example, in Squamish, BC, the Brennan Park Rec Center charges $5 CAD for entry into the pool, hot tub, and sauna, which also includes shower access. Not a bad deal, especially if you want a nice soak to loosen up your muscles first. Note that these tend to be high school locker room-style showers so don’t hope for much privacy. If you’re a bit body conscious, these aren’t the best option.

  • LAUNDROMATS: Like gas stations, these can be a little less than sanitary looking, but some are rather nice. Plus it’s super convenient if you’re doing laundry. Kill two dirtbags with one bar of soap!

  • CAMPGROUNDS / RV PARKS: If you’re staying in a full facility campground or RV park, take advantage of the showers provided! What most people don’t know, however, is that even if you aren’t staying on site, many will charge a fee for showers only. They’re typically short timed with less-than-reliable hot water, but they’re an easy to find fallback option.

  • ROCK GYMS: As we travel, we love to check out various rock climbing gyms around the country. Typically we just buy a day pass, climb, do some training, and cap it all off with a nice hot shower. All in all, a pretty good deal for $15-20 each. Note that not all rock gyms have full locker rooms so double check if you’re buying a day pass under the expectation that it includes a shower.

  • GEAR SHOPS / RENTAL FACILITIES: Another weird one we’ve seen here and there (especially around Zion National Park area and a few other national parks). These are typically minimal, half outdoor timed showers and leave a bit to be desired in terms of heat and pressure. But there do if you’re in a particularly scuzzy pinch!

  • REST STOPS / TRUCKER FRIENDLY GAS STATIONS: Look for public showers near me? Try a truck stop! Truckers need to shower, too, on their long haul drives so a lot of big gas stations off major interstates (like Flying J) will have showers that truckers (and you!) can use.

  • COMMUNITY SHOWERS: Once in a while, you might find free community showers offered by community centers and churches. These are generally designed to be free shower facilities for homeless people, but they usually don’t turn away the occasional dirtbag. Just be respectful if you are using these facilities and maybe support the organization if you can.

How do you find these road showers when traveling?

While ti’s not quite as easy as saying, “Hey Siri, I need a shower” Google is a pretty good bet. Just type “public showers near me or [insert location here]”. It’s generally not too hard to find paid or coin showers, but places that have free showers are definitely more few and far between.

If you’re a climber, another site we’ve found useful in finding showers on the road is climber.org.  It’s hit and miss and but some areas, like the Eastern Sierras, have pretty extensive paid shower maps.

Anytime you’re using public showers, make sure to bring not only all your soap, but a towel (we like packable microfiber camp towels) and shower shoes!

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