Facilities

I went very minimal on my facilities in the van. This page will go through some of the options you have open to you, and why I opted not to have them.

Water

The stuff of life! You drink and use a lot of water. I use a 5 gallon refillable container, and pay 25 to 50 cents a gallon to fill it up with reverse osmosis water at grocery stores.

The cheap way is to refill gallon containers with a funnel and tube from a public source. To me, it’s worth the expense for water I like the taste of.

Others install RV style tanks, with a sink, faucet, pump, and gray water tank. Built in tanks are harder to fill, but can hold more and can take up less space if you mount it underneath.

 

Sink

I opted not to go for a sink, and instead use a nalgene bottle to spit toothpaste or rinse things into.

A sink takes up a lot of space. A grey water tank to hold the discards takes up more. Then you have to empty it. No thanks.

A median path is to have a bowl you can put somewhere (or in an indentation!) to catch run off, then empty it.

Bathroom

I also opted not to have any permanent bathroom in my van. It’s too small a space to stink up, or store things. Even portable toilets need to be emptied and cleaned and filled with water. Some opt for nicer composting toilets, but honestly, there are bathroom everywhere there are people. If you’re camping, buy a shovel dig a cat hole, and bury any #2. It is nice to carry toilet paper in the van.

For pee, I use cheap large bottles from the dollar store, empty them outside, and throw them away when they get gross. Most girls are able to use wide-mouth bottles too, so don’t discount it right away (or get a she-wee!).

Shower

I’ve seen people with cool solar shower setups, that they can set up outside the rear van doors with a tarp thrown over them as a shower curtain. I didn’t want to carry around that much water, so I did something easier.

I showered less. Most of us don’t need to shower every day. I found that once my body adjusted after a couple weeks, I only NEEDED to shower once every 5-7 days. I bought a highly absorbent microfiber camp towel, it dries quick and rolls up small.

For the first part of my journey I bummed showers from friends. I used public facilities (pools, beach showers, etc). Or I used natural sources of water like lakes, with biodegradable soap. Truck stop showers are too expensive to be worth it. Eventually, I traveled to an area this wasn’t as possible and signed up for a gym membership.

Gym

Part of van life was to improve my overall health, and stop ducking the gym. It’s also a convenient place for showers. After researching gyms, I went with planet fitness. It’s $20/month so you can use any of their locations up to 10 times a month (per location). Traveling around, that’s fine with me. It’s not the best gym by far, but there are a LOT of them. 24 hour fitness was the other contender, but they had more hoops and more restrictive travel policies.

Speaking of the gym, I highly recommend Nerdfitness.com to get motivated and learn the basics of working out and nutrition. I don’t like the machines, and highly recommend body and free weight exercises. Planet Fitness isn’t the best for this, but again, it works.

Laundry

Friend’s laundry facilities are the best. Coin laundry really isn’t bad. Check reviews, some are much more expensive than others.