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Having adventures and seeing beautiful landscapes is what makes van life appealing for so many people, but it would be a lie to say that it was a glamorous lifestyle.

Things can get a bit smelly, with the combination of hot weather and small living space, sweat can start to build up.

It’s also refreshing and simply good personal hygiene to take a shower every couple of days so that you can feel like your best self as you experience new, wonderful things.

In this article, we will talk about some alternatives to the traditional shower that we are all familiar with, but this is not always possible in a van.

This does not mean that you are not allowed to have any showers in your van, but they will look and function differently but will still get you clean at the end of the day.

Solar Shower

One of the best alternatives to a normal shower on the road is using a solar shower. They are relatively easy to build yourself as long as you have the tools and basic knowledge.

By mounting a solar shower onto the top of your van, you will have to deal with a large pipe that is fitted onto one side of the van which can look a bit unsightly for some.

The large pipe, especially when filled with water is also likely to make the van heavier on one side compared to the other and the extra size will need to be taken into consideration when fitting into smaller areas.

It can also be a bit of a hassle trying to find somewhere to find water to fill the shower up with, and you will need to have a hose that is long enough since it has to reach up onto the roof.

When you want to use the solar shower, you will also have to have the van parked on a surface that is inclined enough so that the water flows.

Despite these challenges, the solar shower is one of the most popular choices for those living the van life as it is eco-friendly and saves on electricity.

Keg Shower

If you don’t like the sound of a solar shower, you can use a keg shower instead which is essentially a keg that has had its original nozzle replaced with a faucet nozzle which can then be pressurized.

By combining boiled water and cold water, you can achieve a perfect shower wherever you are, as long as you have a bit of privacy.

A keg shower can be operated by yourself or if you prefer, you can have someone help you keep pressure into the system. Pairing this shower with eco-friendly soaps makes this keg shower very eco-friendly.

Keg showers work best outside as the water can spray in all sorts of directions if you are operating the nozzle yourself and will make the floor wet if you do not have a designated bathroom area in the van.

Other Portable Showers

Bucket Camp Shower

You can also get a pump shower which is great for the van life because you can harness the power of the sun by painting it black and leaving it out in the sun to get nice and warm.

You also only need to pump it with your hand a few times in order to get the water flowing, but it cannot be collapsed so that it can be tucked away when not being used.

The camp shower bag is a kind of portable shower that is affordable and works especially well if you are in a hot area or are traveling during the summer as it will heat up in no time.

To get the water to flow, you will need to hang the shower from a high location such as a tree branch which means that the water does not flow out as quickly as other showers as it is relying on gravity.

However, as the water is not pressurized, you are able to save a lot more water, and is less of a hassle to set up and use.

Another great advantage to this shower bag though is that it comes with a temperature gauge.

Another option is the battery-powered portable shower which you can hook up to your sink faucet and put the other end in a bucket of water that will then be pumped through the contraception and out of the shower head.

The water that comes out will be nice and fresh as it has a built-in filtration device and can be used for an hour before the battery needs to be recharged again which gives you plenty of time to give yourself the TLC that rarely comes on the road.

Figuring Out Your Water

When you are deciding on your new shower setup, you will have to get a good grasp of how much water you are able to set aside.

To summarize, there are three water systems that you can choose from that all have their own advantages and disadvantages which include the blue water system, gray water system, and black water system.

The blue water system is also known as the freshwater system which can be used for all sorts of things such as drinking, washing, cooking, and taking a shower.

A blue water system aboard a campervan is classified as a freshwater system. This is generally for the water you’ll use for most scenarios in your campervan. Water used for drinking, cooking, washing pots, and taking a shower is supplied from the blue water system.

Water storage is the first part of the blue water system and is important for supplying enough water on the road.

A good water tank will be able to hold enough water for at least three days, if your tank is too small you will have to stop a lot more in order to fill it up but if it is too big, your van will be harder to handle so striking that balance is essential.

The gray water system is a layout of pipes that run through the van with the tank on the underside of the van. The pipes in this system carry water that is polluted but has not come into contact with urine and fecal matter.

Gray water is not freshwater like the blue water system as it is produced by washing dirty dishes or taking showers.

Finally, there is the black water system which is almost identical to the gray water system but the water that runs through its pipes has come into contact with urine and fecal matter and is produced when the toilet is used.

Other Ways To Keep Yourself Clean Whilst Traveling

Best Alternative to Your Road Shower Needs

Showers are one thing, but what can you do to keep smelling and feeling fresher for longer?

Keep Your Van Clean

A clean van equals a clean human. Since van interiors are very small, it does not take much to get them messy, but it also means that it takes much less time to clean as well.

You can start by wiping down your countertops and tables after they have been used to stop a build-up of grime, stains, and crumbs.

Sweeping the floors is another thing that will keep your van nice and clean especially when you are traveling through the desert as dust and sand can get into all sorts of cracks and crevices.

Try to avoid harsh chemicals when you are cleaning though because they will not only be very strong in such a small area but can also be damaging to some surfaces over time.

Laundry is another important thing that you should keep on top of, van life is very outdoorsy when you are not driving, and this introduces all sorts of marks and stains to your duvet.

You might be able to shower every day but getting into a dirty bed at the end of every night is not going to do much good, and wearing dirty clothes is not pleasant either!

Also, clean your toilet out as much as you can to stop the build-up of smell because even the best toilets can start to smell if they aren’t taken care of.

Join A Gym

Gyms are a great place to stop and get a workout in, but they also have showers and hair dryers that you can use afterward. You can join memberships that are valid on certain gym chains all throughout the country, and you won’t have to spend too much to do it either.

Use Camp Facilities

Lots of campgrounds have facilities that will allow you to take a shower for a small fee which is a great option after hiking up trails as it is right there waiting for you at the bottom.

Since you are likely stopping there anyway, why not have a warm, affordable, easy shower while you’re at it?

Use Bath Wipes

Bath wipes are not the most environmentally friendly, but you can get some biodegradable wipes that will not have such an impact if you accidentally leave one of them behind.

Bath wipes are a good option if you do not have a lot of time to stop, or you are far away from other facilities, a quick once or twice over with the wipe will make you feel much cleaner and fresher.

Dry Shampoo

If you have a lot of long hair, keeping it clean can be a real pain as it can get greasy before you even know it, and having greasy hair is not fun. Washing your hair in the shower also uses more precious water resources as you have to rinse the product out and put more in etc.

Dry shampoo is very easy to use as it all comes out of a can that you just spray onto your roots which makes your hair feel much fresher and will keep it going for a few more days.

Bucket Bath

A bucket bath is pretty much what it says on the tin, all you need is a bucket, a cloth, and some water. Make sure that you use eco-friendly soaps and hair products when you use a bucket bath as it is usually done outside.

If you are worried about privacy, there are pop-up shower rings that you can get which will act as a circle screen around you, letting you bathe in peace.


Now that you know that there is more than one way to take a shower, you have the flexibility to choose what method works best for you.

You should take into consideration how much water you can store in your tank, the size of your van, your traveling habits, and your budget just to name a few things but don’t worry it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

Before you decide on a more permanent shower set-up you can stick to a simpler method such as bath wipes, bucket baths, and using public facilities instead.

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