Recreation Centers- This is our preferred way to find cheap, good quality showers. The only drawback is they can only be found within cities and we like to avoid cities if we can. However, they are a great option if you're in need of a good cleaning. Here is why we like them: They usually have a reduced rate if you're just there for the shower, but if you want to soak in the hot tub or go for a swim too you can pay a few extra dollars. We've found some as little as $1 for a shower. There's a pool in Tucson, AZ that is free to swim and shower. Also, if you're not a fan of the corral style showering you can just use the family rooms and you get a shower, toilet and sink to yourself. We just try to make sure the pool isn't too busy so that there's plenty of private rooms to go around.
Truck Stops- I am reluctant to add these to the list, but they have their place despite being ridiculously expensive. The reason they made the list is because they are reliable to find, usually pretty clean and they supply you a clean towel. Loves has been our favorite to use if we're up to paying $16-18 per shower (Ouch). However, we did find out a hack. You can ask to share a shower and this means you only have to pay for one. Our routine is Charlie shaves while I shower and then it's his turn. We don't mind, especially for the cost savings
Creek baths- This is not for everyone, especially when it's cold, but we like the price and the refreshed feeling of getting a natural bath in. It's almost as effective as a bold cup of coffee in the morning.
DIY van shower systems- There are several ways we've seen this done. You can spray paint some PVC black and mount it to your roof with a hose and nozzle. The sun will heat the water and you have an onboard shower. Some folks use agricultural sprayers (the pumps you weed spray your lawn with). You can spray paint those black too to conduct more heat from the sun. We don't have much room in the minivan and we want it to stay pretty stealth looking (looking like nobody lives in it) so we use our rockhounding buckets and a wash cloth to get a quick, free wash.
Shower less- Back home we were daily showerers, sometimes twice a day. Vanlife fixed that real quick. The longer we've been on the road the more our bodies have adjusted to less showers. It's actually healthier for your skin to not strip it of its oils all the time. We use mild/natural soaps and feel just as clean as we did before. That is untl we push the showers off too long, haha. We are now on a schedule to where we need some sort of shower about every 4 days. I'll even admit we've gone longer some weeks. The major benefit to showering less is the cost savings.
I wanted to throw an added tip that doesn't save you money, but keeps you from unwanted germs and fungus. Always bring your own towel even if they supply you one when using a public shower. We use the provided one to cover a bench before sitting or to dry up any spillover as a common decency. The towels are washed, but sometimes germs and fungus can survive a washing. Also, have shower shoes. We both wear a pair of crocs into the shower to avoid athletes foot, warts, etc.. We're not super germaphobes, but these little precautions ensure we stay healthy during our travels. Health is the best wealth, ya'll!
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