Even if it’s the most practical of things, you seem to always learn something new. Take showering for instance – you think you know, but you’d be surprised how much you can learn about how to get a good shower when you're out travelling in a 1975 camper van for three years.
When you’re on the road there are some really uncontrollable aspects of showers that you have to contend with (like ambient temperature, cleanliness etc.), but there are also things you can control. So, I thought it would be useful to put together a little list to save you the pain. Hopefully, this will help you find a good shower on your next road trip.
Step 1: Not All Showers Are Not All Created Equal
As you may come to learn along the way, when you're traveling not all showers are created equal. Some will scald you, some will disgust you, and some will make you clean.
1) If it’s not a climate controlled bathroom (and it’s winter) pick the warmest part of the day, or slightly later. Most of the time the concrete buildings retain the cold from the night, so it will warm up throughout the day and the afternoon is usually best. (This also doubles as one of the quieter times compared to the early morning rush).
2) Wear flip flops – piece of mind, and not having to touch the ground are solid reasons for this.
3) Check out all the shower heads before choosing – the last thing you want is crappy pressure or bi-directional spray.
Pro tip: if push button shower, push all buttons in stalls to determine which one runs the longest (it’s usually the handicap shower)
4) Make sure to put all dry belongings as far on the opposite side of the shower stall as possible. Even if you think it wont get wet, it somehow will.
5) If you haven’t already turned on the water, do it sooner vs. later – sometimes it doesn’t get hot right away, or for a solid 5 minutes, or never (it’s happened!). It’s good to know these things before you strip down.
6) If you actually finish showering before you run out of hot water use a small light quick-drying towel – it packs down small and dries fast under the hand dryer. If you have a nice sunny day though, definitely opt for the plush towel.
Step 2: Places to Find Showers
Often times camp sites and RV parks are a good place to get a shower. (Pro Tip: If you're looking to save your self a couple of bucks you can sometimes pay RV parks to just have a shower without staying overnight (it is a good idea to call them and ask). However, if you don’t find yourself in the woods with running water, I’ve discovered there are other places to grab a shower.
These include (but are not limited to):
- hotels (bribe the maid to let you shower before she cleans the room for new customers),
- recreation centres (especially YMCA),
- gyms (ask about a day pass),
- some truck stops (e.g. Flying J/Pilot in North America),
- the local pool, or
- you could outright beg a stranger if you’re desperate.
Luckily, I haven’t had the need to try all of these yet. The use of recreation centres (like YMCA) is a great one though, often times they will offer you a complimentary tour and allow access to the facilities for the rest of the day. This is my most frequently used approach when traveling in and around city centres.