Whether you are in a car or a van, the question of the shower is one of the trickiest questions. When you are not used to going off the beaten track, you can feel lost and a thousand questions come to mind.
Where are we going to wash? How to find places where you can shower? Can a shower system be designed directly in the van? So many questions that have their answers and which we will talk about right after.
First of all, we will see what are the existing solutions for showering in a van. Then we will address the question of where there are showers that can be used for a fee. Ready to travel Europe without putting hygiene aside?
Road-trip: solutions for showering
- 1 Road-trip: solutions for showering
Aside from campervans from big name manufacturers that are designed as motorhomes, vans and cars do not have bathrooms. Fortunately, solutions exist to overcome this major problem when traveling. By using the natural resources at your disposal or by buying equipment adapted to the situation, you will be able to go around Europe without neglecting the showers!
Lakes and rivers
So, of course, this trick can only be implemented in summer, unless you are not afraid of freezing water! But, during the months of July and August, some river waters and especially lakes can exceed 30°C. This is the case for certain lakes in the Jura or Morvan which sometimes top out at 32°C !
These fresh water points can be a real solution for washing yourself, but be careful, you will have to respect certain rules. To best protect the environment and not turn a natural site into a trash can, it is absolutely necessary to respect these rules of etiquette:
- Use solid soap such as Aleppo soap or Marseille soap . They foam less, are biodegradable and have a pH close to fresh water.
- Rinse with water contained in a container outside the body of natural water. This will avoid disturbing the local fauna and flora.
- Never shower upstream of a drinking water point , otherwise the water of local residents will be polluted.
- Do not put pollutants in the water , such as shaving foam, liquid shampoo, shower gel or even sunscreen.
Tip: if you are in a Natural Park or other place of this type, find out about any prohibitions concerning this point. Indeed, it can evolve according to the place in which you are.
Solar shower with manual pump
And there, you are already wondering: but what is a solar shower ? It’s quite simple in truth, it’s simply a container of water that will be heated naturally by the rays of the sun ! The volume of the container varies enormously from one manufacturer to another and even from one model of solar shower to another. Some of them contain only 5 liters while others exceed 20 liters.
Of course, the heating time depends on the outside temperature but also on the volume of water that needs to be heated. Note, however, that some showers exceed 60°C after 2 hours of exposure to the sun.
As you can see in the image above, the Decathlon pressure solar shower has an internal volume of 8 liters, which is enough for one person to wash. Its use is simple: fill it with cold water then leave it exposed to the sun for a few hours.
When you want to shower, you can increase the shower pressure by manually pumping for a few seconds. Then, the pressure will be used to operate the shower head. Clever, this solar shower is also offered by many manufacturers. The price ranges range from 20$ to over 60$ for the larger ones.
Tip: to avoid prying eyes, I advise you to take the Decathlon portable shower cabin with you. Foldable and opaque , it can be stored in a small space and then unfolded anywhere when you need it!
Solar gravity shower
For water heating, the solar gravity shower is the same as the pressure shower. On the other hand, it is the way of getting the water out that changes. Here, you no longer need to pump to increase the pressure inside the shower, it’s gravity that will help you. In other words, you just have to hang the solar shower on a tree branch or put it on the roof of the van so that the water runs off naturally by gravity . More practical than its counterpart if you don’t like to pump while you shower, it is available in similar volumes. Some interesting models:
- Sea To Summit, 10 liters
- Trigano, 20 liters
- Camp Shower, 20 liters
Mobile electric showers
These systems can be useful for both van and car road trips. Indeed, these are portable showers that plug into a cigarette lighter, so on 12V. The principle is simple: a submerged pump is located at one end of a pipe several meters long.
You immerse it in water from a container, a jerrycan or a lake, it doesn’t matter. It will then send this water to the shower head which is at the other end of the pipe. Two models stand out: the Turbo Shower from Baya Sun and the portable shower from Laserbeak.
The advantage of these showers is that they are compatible with all vehicles whose battery works on 12V, but the disadvantage is their price, slightly higher than manual showers. It’s up to you to see what you prefer!
Tip: as this shower does not heat the water, try to take already lukewarm water or heat it beforehand with your stove and then pump in it.
Where to shower for free while on the road
The portable shower systems we have talked about are interesting if you want to aim for total autonomy and no longer depend on the structures in place. But did you know that there are bathrooms or showers just about everywhere you can wash up? For a few euros or even sometimes free, these systems can help you out or become real long-term solutions for those who do not have their own autonomous shower. Let’s take a look at these different easy-to-find solutions.
Beach showers are the famous showers present by the sea on almost all the coasts of Europe. From Spain to the Netherlands, you can shower after spending a day basking in the sun. This eliminates the sand but also the salt that has accumulated on you during the day.
Well, these beach showers are a possible solution for washing up on a road trip. Available all along the seaside and open on sunny days , they are free in Francebut can sometimes be chargeable in other European countries.
However, they have a few drawbacks: they are visible to everyone, so you will have to keep your bathing suit on, they are absent inland and only work in summer. With global warming and the multiplication of droughts it causes, beach showers are increasingly rare. So don’t base your entire washing strategy on it!
Campsite showers are also a quality solution for washing yourself during a road trip. Often very clean, campsite sanitary facilities have private shower cubicles , washbasins and mirrors, which can be a great help. The advantage is that these showers have hot water and are available at any time of the day. On the other hand, you will have to rent a location to be able to wash there. Take the opportunity to spend some time in the area!
We rarely think about it, but swimming pools have showers and this, in all European countries. Of course, you will have to pay the entrance ticket for the swimming pool, but it can be worth it if you want to take a dip after that shower. The main advantage of this method is that swimming pools are ubiquitous in many countries. In Germany, access to swimming pools often costs less than €2 and the showers there are truly top-of-the-range.
Apps to search for showers: Find Clean Public Restrooms
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that there are many public showers . Normally we don’t see them, since the average traveler is more focused on monuments and restaurants, but we assure you that they are everywhere.
For this reason, one of the first things you have to learn if you are going to travel by van is how to find public showers with some agility. They are useless if they are many kilometers away or if it takes us a long time to find them.
The best thing is that you use technology, as there are various apps and collaborative maps with which to find a good shower. The most prominent options are:
- Park4Night: the quintessential van app . Although people usually know it as a resource to find places to sleep, the truth is that it has a super useful filter with which you can select showers. You can see comments from other travelers and find information about prices, schedules and state of cleanliness.
- Showerme: This is a specific app for searching for showers. It has locations from pretty much all over the world and it’s really useful. We use it less out of sheer laziness (since we usually solve with Park4Night), but we always have it installed because its database is much more complete.
- Collaborative maps: the union is strength and the internet is full of demonstrations. In the case of public showers, practically in each country you will find updated information by local travelers. In the case of Spain, the most prominent example is Furgoduchas, a map largely fed by users of the legendary FurgoVW forum. In it you will find about 300 public showers spread throughout the country, although there are also some in Europe. Be that as it may, if you are in another destination and you google something like “ free showers map ”, you will usually find contributions like this one.
Public showers and rest areas
Many French municipalities offer public baths so that people who do not have access to running water can still wash. This is the case of Paris , Lille or even Toulouse. In some cases, this service is free , while in others it will be chargeable. In any case, you will find the necessary information in the town hall of the city in question.
If you take the highway, you can also shower at certain rest areas. Truck drivers use them to wash themselves during their break. Most of the time, they cost 1$ or 2$ (amount to be paid at the service station or at the cash desk of the area).
Cleaned several times a day, they are generally very clean, even if, sometimes, some users are not respectful of the place. Regarding showers at rest areas abroad, you will often find a list of the areas concerned in the backpacker ‘s guide of the country in question.
The Final Coin in the Bag
Whether you’re in a car or a van, washing up on a road trip is pretty straightforward. Several methods even allow you to aim for autonomy: solar pressure and gravity showers, portable cabins or even electric showers are all affordable ways to shower near your vehicle.
Lakes and rivers can also be used to wash you if you take an environmentally friendly soap and rinse with an external basin. And don’t forget structures that have showers that you can borrow or rent, such as swimming pools, rest areas, or public baths.
Easy to set up or available in many cities in Europe, these showers allow you to maintain impeccable hygiene away from home. What if you were ready to go around Europe?
Aiden is a freelance journalist and content writer who writes about the outdoors, the environment, and travel. He is a Survival and Preparedness enthusiast who loves everything outdoors. Aiden has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.
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