8 ways to shower when you live in a van

20 January 2016

How to shower when you live in a van? A lot of people ask us this question and the question has many answers. No, Box does not have a shower on board, so we are forced to be a bit more creative when it comes to our personal hygiene. In this post we tell you how and where we take showers while on the road. (With many thanks to shower model Crom, fearless of cold water)

Take showers in lakes and rivers

Especially during summer this is our favorite option. We find a river or lake on the map, drive there, take a dive, and wash ourselves well. We took many baths in the Danube river for example. (even though afterwards we found out that this is not the cleanest water in the world…) Of course we always only use natural soap and shampoo, so we don’t bother the fish too much.

waterfall shower

Take a bath in a natural spring

Our latest discovery for taking baths are hot water springs! Especially in the winter hot water springs are perfect to get clean. These spots are not easy to get by, so when we find one it’s pure luxury. In Bulgaria (Rupite) and Greece (Thermoplylae) we have found some places where there was hot water coming straight from the ground. We parked Box next to it, so we had our own thermal jacuzzi right in front of our doorstep.


Use hospitality websites

Are you in a city or town without natural water around? Then websites like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome can save you. There is even a hospitality website where people just offer showers, called WarmShowers. Just write a request that you are in town, that you have no need for a bed, but just for a shower. This is a great way to make some local friends and get freshened up at the same time.

More than once we have met locals who, after a short chat, really wanted to help us out on our journey. Often they help us by giving us food or home-brewed liquor (we have a huge stash now that we just can’t finish). But sometimes, when the vibe is right, we ask them if we can take a shower in their house. No one has ever said no. Usually the shower comes with a home cooked meal too. Perfect!


Diana was one of the people who kindly offered us a shower in her house

Shower at the swimming pool

Visiting a swimming pool is another ‘two birds with one stone’ solution. You can swim some laps to keep fit and take a nice shower afterwards. An important note: We found that public swimming pools are not easily accessible in every country. In some countries, like Greece or Romania, you need a medical exam before you’re allowed to enter. In other places, like Serbia, you can get in easily and cheap.

swimming pool shower

Take a shower at a gym

One of our best shower experiences so far was at a gym in the Romanian town Sebes. After driving the Transalpina road for 2 days we were desperate for a shower. As we walked by a gym, we decided to ask if we could use their shower and sauna. At first we were afraid that the place was too fancy and that we looked to ‘bummy’, but it tuned out great. For 10 euros we had a private bathroom for one hour, complete with bathtub, mini sauna, candles and tea.

If you are staying in a town for a month or longer, you can consider taking a gym membership for the month. Then you have access to a shower whenever you want.

private bathroom

Our fanciest shower so far: a private sauna in Sebes, Romania

Wash yourself in a wheelchair toilet

This is kind of an emergency solution, but it works. Park at a shopping mall, find the toilets and look for the toilet for wheelchairs. These toilets are bigger and most importantly usually have a sink within the room. So here you can lock the door, undress and use the sink to wash yourself. I know it’s not chique, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…

Use a shower bag

Our loyal companion, wherever we go, is our shower bag. This bag comes handy when there is no lake, river, swimming pool around. Or when there is a lake or river, but the water is just freezing…

We just warm up some water in a big pot, poor it into the shower bag, hang the shower bag on the roof. And voila, our personal hot shower is there!

shower when you live in a van

One thing is for sure. When you live in a van, taking showers is a lot more time consuming and complicated. But at the same time super fun and exiting. Our showers have given us a lot of funny and memorable moments. Like on the photo below, when Crom was running back to Box as he heard another car approaching during his shower. Never a dull moment..

shower run

We hope these shower tips are useful to you. Do you know other ways to shower when you live in a van? Please comment below!


  1. Comment by Yvette

    Yvette Reply 1 February 2016 at 10:42

    Fab website guys! Stumbled upon your site as I googled Croatia stealth camping info.

    We’re heading off on our 2nd year in a van in a few months. Showered st beaches, rivers etc last time. This time, we will hook a plastic pipe along the outside edge of the van, fill it with water, let the sun heat the water up during the day, have an opening at one end..et voila! Shower time!

    Off to check out more of your posts. Will find you on Twitter. Ciao! Yvette

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 1 February 2016 at 11:54

      Hey Yvette, great to hear from you! The idea with the tube on the outside of the van is something we are planning too. You can even add some pressure with a pump and connect an actual shower head. Let us know when you made it. I’m curious!

  2. Comment by Zafer ilhan

    Zafer ilhan Reply 6 April 2016 at 14:42

    Hello how are you bolu alpet have good journey.l love you guys see you ??

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 6 April 2016 at 15:54

      Hellooo Bolu Alpet! Thanks for the car wash :))

  3. Comment by Rachael

    Rachael Reply 8 November 2016 at 12:20

    I love your site, it’s great but I’m afraid I disagree with your advise here. Accessible toilets are for people who need them. Your wash can wait- someone with crohns/IBS/other invisible disabilities effecting their digestive system cannot. You’re also going to feel like an idiot when you emerge from the accessible restroom and see the face of the person with impaired mobility who has had to sit outside in their wheelchair and wait for your able-bodied self to have a strip wash when they simply want to be able to use the restroom. It’s also really important that accessible restrooms are kept clean and dry as someone with physical difficulties may encounter serious problems from a wet floor &/or surfaces. Imagine if you had to use your hands to get around. You’d need that floor to be as clean and dry as possible. Able-bodied people using accessible restrooms don’t always understand how much inconvenience they are causing. With every respect this is terrible advise. Sorry.

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 9 November 2016 at 22:28

      Hi Rachael,

      I can only say that you are completely right! I am ashamed to admit that I did not think about this. So thank you for pointing it out. In the near future I will rewrite this post, because with some more months of experience we have found so many better ways to shower. And when I add our new and improved shower tips, I will take this tip out. Thanks for the eye opener!

  4. Comment by vivienne

    vivienne Reply 15 January 2017 at 22:28

    leave the “disabled toilet ” washing as is. Next you will get a fishing man complaining about the pregnant fish you are disturbing. etc. you cant please everyone. Let people police their own conscience. carry on living, learning, …..and surviving.

    • Comment by AA

      AA Reply 26 July 2017 at 09:36

      AGREED leaving it as is. Use things available for your advantage even if it is maybe not made specifically for you. It’s called surviving and you can’t try not to be a politically correct, able bodied, cis scum all the time lol

      • Comment by Rachael

        Rachael Reply 1 August 2017 at 23:43

        I don’t believe there is a single person reading this blog that wouldn’t be mortified to know their stripwash was the reason someone with a disability had no choice but to poo themselves. I don’t think there is a single person here who would willingly be the reason a wheelchair user had been forced to transfer from their chair into a regular toilet stall without grab rails (bare hands on public restroom floor) and with the stall door open. It’s about affording disabled people the same basic dignity we take for granted. The needs of able bodied people making choices cannot be compared to the basic dignity of having a place you can actually physically get into to poop/empty your stoma without people watching you. It’s not political correctness – is basic courtesy.
        Thanks for your reply Valine xxx I have huge respect for you and look forward to seeing your new tips.

  5. Comment by William Baumann

    William Baumann Reply 5 February 2017 at 13:50


    I just felt the need to chime in and say that while it may be true that cleaning yourself inside of a wheel chair restroom may in some ways feel inconvenient to somebody with a disability, it may be worth taking a moment to consider that perhaps an individual who lacks the standard means of maintaining an acceptable degree of personal hygiene is, by definition, also handicapped. It is easy to forget the many wonderful tools that physically disabled people have been given, in an effort to allow them to more easily do the things that the rest of the world does (& inevitably takes for granted), but until we come up with a better solution to assist these people who don’t regularly have access to a shower, perhaps it is the duty of people in wheelchairs to help out if they happen to have the means of doing so (which may mean sharing the toilet once or twice).

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