Last Update: 3/10/2019

10 Ways to Shower if You Live in a Van

Man who lives in a van down by the river grimaces in cold shower.
"Cold Shower" by sethdickens (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lotta wannabe vandwellers worry 'bout how they're gonna wash the stink off. No problem. Easy really. Showers ain't hard to come by down by the river. Here's some options off the top of my head.

10 Vanlife Shower Options

1. Gyms / Fitness Centers

This is a popular option for your urban vandwellers and OTR types frequenting cities. Get you a cheap membership to one of the national gym chains. Then shower as needed. Get a workout, too!

Vanholio don't hang around cities much, so this option's kinda useless for me. But don't let that stop you!

2. Truck Stops

Your big truck stops – T&A, Pilot, Flying J, etc. – usually have showers for the truckers. They're pricey at about $10-12 per shower. Most a the chains got deals for free showers if ya buy a lotta gas from them, so look into it.

Pilot's the only chain Vanholio's used, and only twice. But I can report that the showers were clean, fancy even, and Pilot provided soap and towels. At one place, a trucker gave me one a his free showers. I don't know whether he just thought Pilot are fucking shysters at $12 a pop or if I looked desperate. Free is free, so I just said, Thank you!

Makes me wonder if you couldn't buy showers at a discount from the truckers direct, say offer $5 for the credit. Most of them got more free showers than they can use anyway. Buddy a mine used ta be homeless, and said he'd hang around'n trucker's'd give him tokens for nothin'!

3. Campgrounds and RV Parks

Ya don't need to pay for a site. While it ain't exactly kosher, hardly no one'll notice if ya use a state, city, or county park campground's shower. This is a great deal if ya got an annual pass to cover the daily entrance. Plus some a your National Forest and BLM campgrounds got showers, though this ain't typical.

Small, private RV parks will often let travelers buy just a shower. The going rate seems to be $5. The laundry facilities is usually more-reasonably priced than a laundromat, too.

Some campgrounds and RV parks got coin-operated showers, which usually run a $1.00 to $1.50 for 4-6 minutes.

4. Swimming

Many a time Vanholio's taken a dip in a lake, river, or creek to clean off. I carry a bathing suit for the purpose, but I suppose ya could go like Adam and Eve. Don't pollute with soap, though. I just use sand and clay ta scrub off.

Sometimes public beaches got free rinse showers. Use them after your dip, or alone if it's too cold to swim.

5. Public Bathrooms

You can always get yourself a sponge / washcloth bath in a public bathroom anywhere. For privacy and stealth, a one-user bathroom is probably best. Don't be an asshole: Wipe up any mess you make.

6. Deodorizing Rinses

Vanholio uses this No-Rinse Body Wash he read about on some vandwelling forum. Works good. It's a deodorizing, moisturizing lotion ya just spread on and let dry. I think they come up with it for invalids. It's really good when it's cold out 'cause I can just apply in the van. Seen another brand sold at Walgreens.

I heard some vanlifers do a similar thing homemade. One gal uses a spray bottle filled with vinegar solution. And there are always cleansing wipes.

7. Friends and Family

Visitin' folks for dinner? Ask if they don't mind if you grab a quick shower. Most a your better people will oblige. But don't keep hittin' up the same folks too often. You'll wear out your welcome.

8. Portable Showers

Lots a vandwellers have worked out one kind of shower or other. There're commercial products, like camp showers, and even fancier gadgets. One of the most clever ideas I ever heard was using one of those pressure canisters ,usually used for fertilizer, pesticides, and bug spray. You could even poke holes in the bottom of a plastic bucket, fill it up, and hang it from a tree branch.

9. Garden Hose

If ya find a hose or can add a hose and spray nozzle to an outdoor tap somewhere, you got it made. Put on your swimsuit, hose down, soap up, hose down again, and towel down. You're done. For your nethers, just shoot water down into your swimsuit.

10. Car Wash

I never tried this nor ever even heard it being done... But why not go to a self-serve car wash!? I'm talking about the kind where you drive into a bay and use a powerwash gun. Maybe the gun's too long or two high-pressure? Still think it could work in a pinch. Vanholio'd just use the water rinse – no car soap. I'd also probably go at night or sometime there wouldn't be many around.

Between Showers

Also, consider that with daily deodorant; washing your face, pits, and nethers; and changing your clothes regular, you won't need to bathe all that often. Good hygeine is good for you, helps relations, and hides you in plain site from the LEOs.

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Last Update: 3/03/2019

Chrysler Charges $1400 for Temperature Adjustment Knob!

Photo of Ram Promaster City Climate Control Module

Can ya believe this shit!? Chrysler dealership wants me ta pay $1400 to replace the broken temp control knob in my 2015 Promaster City. What the fuck!? Is the fucker made a gold?

It even halfway works! Just don't turn all the way, can't get the coldest cold nor the hottest hot.

Turns out the temp control knob is part of a module, the "climate control module." (That's the photo at top.) Gettin' a new OEM control module, plus the dealer's time ta rip inta the dash, is why it's so hard'n pricey. And for some reason, it ain't covered by my MOPAR VIP extended warranty (which expires in about a year anyhow). Cost me $125 ta find that out!

Well, well, well ... There comes a time in every vehicle's life when the calculus changes, when it's time ta move on. Not from the van, no. From dealer service. It's time for that scrappy combo a DIY, handy friends, junk yards, aftermarket parts, and just livin' with some quirks.

Now that winter's nearly over, I mighta just gone on as is. Heat ain't that big a deal. In terms a AC, headin' ta Canada for the summer anyways.

But an internet search found me scrap control modules bein' sold online. Junk yards do that shit now. Got one ordered off Ebay, only $40 with free shipping.

Might spend another $20 for a subscription ta ta access their repair manual for my Promaster City. That's for instructions on tearin' apart the dash in such ways that I can put the fucker back together. Plus whatever new delights come up months from now.

So call it ... $60 ta fix? Vs. $1400!? Yup, we're in new territory now. ... And no, Vanholio ain't all that handy, believe it or not. But ta save $1300+? I'll fuckin' learn, goddamnit!

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Last Update: 2/24/2019

Top 10 Questions About Living in a Van

Van is camped with folding chairs and a tarp awning making everything comfortable.

People keep asking Vanholio and other fulltime vandwellers the same goddamn questions about vanlife over and over again. Here’s short answers ta the Top 10.

Now understand that these are just Vanholio’s answers. I gots my biases. Plus Vanholio is an OTR (on the road) vandweller. I’d do things different if I lived in a city.

Top 10 Vanlife Questions Answered

1. What kind of van should I get?

Vanholio’s got a Promaster City converted ta camper. That’s a bit small for most. Full-size vans is most common. But hell, I seen folks live in everything from Priuses up to buses, plus every kind a trailer or tent. What you need is ta keep the weather off ya. After that, it’s what you like and can afford. If you can work with what ya already own, that's what I'd do.

2. How do you heat and cool the van?

Vanholio’s goal is keeping hisself – his body – at a nice temp. Heat and A/C for a van is one way ta do that. Plenty a folks have ways. My ultimate climate controls is longitude and altitude. But I also use clothes, blankets, and acclimatization to keep warm; and good fans, ventilation, and moisture evaporation ta keep cool.

3. How do you shower?

First off, ya don’t need a shower every goddamn day, unless you’re gettin' truly dirty at work. But showers ain’t hard. If you ain’t got access at a gym or built inta your rig, ya can get showers at truck stops and campsites, use portable shower gadgets, or clean up with wipes or no-rinse body wash. Shit, at worse all ya need is a bucket, water, soap'n a washcloth!

4. Where do you go to the bathroom?

In the last year, I only had to shit in the woods about half dozen times. Mostly, I used regular public or business bathrooms, or else vault toilets in the forests. ‘Course as a male, pissing wherever the fuck I want ain’t an issue.

5. What do you do for money?

Besides a bit from bloggin', Vanholio does online surveys and has investment income. Lots a travelin' vandwellers got businesses or jobs they can do via internet, phone, or mail, or by settin' up shop here'n there. Others find temp jobs around the country. Really ain’t that tough 'cause vanlife is cheap (or can be).

6. How much does living in a van cost?

This is gonna depend on your tastes, but from all I’ve heard the average vandweller lives on $1,000 or less per month. Some far less than that.

7. Do you have a gun?

No. I ain’t opposed to folks 2nd Amendment rights, but personally don’t feel trained enough to use a gun right under stress. I do carry weapon-ready tools. But, but, BUT, my first defense is usin' my brain ta avoid trouble and avoid being noticed. Plus I got a Watch Chihuahua!

8. Do the cops hassle you?

Living in a van ain’t exactly illegal. But local statutes and nosy cops can make it hard. I avoid them places, and I'm damn sneaky when I can’t. Plus I move around, keep well groomed, and have a clean vehicle, so I don’t catch the LEO’s eyes.

9. Where do you park at night?

Since Vanholio is a traveler and prefers the wild, I usually camp in the backcountry of national forests and BLM land. But I’ve also slept in Walmarts and other parking lots, rest stops, campgrounds, RV parks, friends’ driveways, curbside, and behind abandoned buildings.

10. Isn't living in a van lonely?

Oh, hell no! First off, loneliness is a state of mind. Second, if you want society, it’s easy to find as much as you want, with a little thought. Even pussy or cock, or whatever revs your engine!

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Last Update: 2/16/2019

Choke Your Chicken in a RoadPro Stove

Cooking a whole chicken in an oven bag within a RoadPro 12 volt Stove

"Stuff it, stuff it in! Take it all, Baby! Cram that fuckin' chicken in your hole, choke it!" I screamed as the whole bird slipped inta my RoadPro Stove.

Been surfing the web for 12 volt cooking food porn, then found THIS. Dirty sonofabitch had crammed that super-sized chicken into that hot hole ... Mmmm. He'd put the bird into an oven bag and stuffed it into his RoadPro Stove ALL THE WAY! After 2.5 hours a workin', that bitch was hot, greasy and meltin' off the bone! My tongue was on the floor!

Days later, Vanholio was in some grocery store and saw they was pimping'whole birds, seasoned, with bread stuffing inside, ready to go. I bought one, about 3 lbs. Put it in a bag (with a little flour and air hole in top, per instructions.)

Got that plump chick home and prepped her real good. Gawdammit, then I fisted her inta that RoadPro Stove hole. Baked her for ... well, a long damn time, like 5 or more hours. Don't know why it took so long, probably the stuffing. But DAMNNNNN!
RoadPro Stove Cooks It All!

Tender, so tender... So soft ... So satisfied ...

Las Chihuahas and I ate half the chicken and most a the stuffing right away. Now I've got the rest cold and waiting for sandwiches, eating straight, cooking with rice, whatever. Wow! Just wow!

Only complaint is that you don't get the brown, crispy skin of an oven-roasted chicken. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But seriously, ya gotta try it. Choke your chicken into your RoadPro Stove. Roast it for 2.5+ hours. Eat like a king – King of the Fuckin' Road!

Special Note – Vanholio wrote this post back in 2015. Lots changed since. One Chihuahua, The Gimp, has passed on. Vanholio's been usin' a Max Burton Digital Stove to Go. But the principle's the same, the advice's still good ta go!

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Last Update: 2/10/2019

How to Shit in a Hole in the Ground

"Dig a cathole," they say, "When you're boondocking and there ain't no toilets around." But how? How you use that without gettin' shit 'n pee all over yourself!? Read on! Uncle Vanholio'll learn ya!

13 Steps to Shittin' Pretty

  1. Find a Private Spot. This is damn important, trust me!

  2. Dig a hole about 6-8" inches deep (15-20 cm). Vanholio prefers ta use a small mattock over a trowel 'cause it'll tear through rocky or rooty soil better.

  3. Take off your britches, underwear'n all. Maybe you got a way ta pull 'em outta the way, but Vanholio just finds this step prevents "mistakes." If you're wearin' a dress or kilt, I guess ya could hike it up.

  4. Line up your heels even with the front a the hole. (See where the sandals is in that photo above.) That'll let aim up your turds ta drop square inta the hole.

  5. Squat and shit. Ya don't even need ta squat all that much. Vanholio squats maybe as much as sittin' on a tall chair. Also helps ta pull your buttcheeks apart.

  6. Keep squatting and wipe. Have that TP handy so ya don't have to stand up. If ya stand, ya might squish the leftover crap onta your buttcheeks more.

  7. Dispose a the toilet paper: Option 1: Drop it inta the hole like you'd expect. Option 2: Put the used TP inta a ziplock bag ta carry to a trash can. That's what Vanholio does in arid places.

  8. Piss inta the hole, if ya gotta. Most nutrients that leave the body come out in pee. I figure that and the moisture'll help the crap break down quicker.

  9. Clean your ass. Having a clean ass is your No. 1 vanlife priority. There or back at camp, use some "flushable" wipes to make sure there ain't nothin' left in the crack. Get your whole nethers clean.

  10. Put on your britches. Or go commando. Your call.

  11. Fill in the hole. Maybe stomp on it after to squash that dirt down.

  12. Wash your hands. If ya ain't got soap and water ta spare, do like Vanholio does. Clean your hands with another wipe, then use some antiseptic gel.

  13. Enjoy the relief. Walk away. Sigh deep. Hell, smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Honestly, ya get used to it. It ain't that bad. After years on the road, Vanholio don't see no need ta carry a tiny toilet with him. No siree!

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Last Update: 2/02/2019

Road Trip! Haida Gwaii, BC, Alaska, and Points North!

Vanholio's been thinkin' an' itchin' at the feet. Six months'n more Texas housebound's got him ready ta Go Big and Go Alaska! Plan is ta meander toward British Columbia and Alaska late March, early April. And he needs your help!

Check out the embedded Google Map below. Vanholio needs your advice on good places along the way. Don't mean tourist traps. I mean good free camp spots, cheap eats, little known side treks, hot springs and swimmin' holes for a bath, things like that.

And I ain't in no hurry, neither. Might take a month or more ta get up North.

"But Vanholio!," ya say, "You're missin' all the best stuff in the mountains and National Parks!" Well, first off, Vanholio's been ta all them parks.

Second, leavin' in spring, the notion is drive desert on the way up, goin' for sunshine and mid-50's weather. Mountains'll be too cold'n snowy that early. Might hit 'em on the way back south, though! TBD

That route there ain't set in stone none neither. It's a work in progress. But it avoids most big cities and interstates. And it keeps ta warmish high desert – Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, Inland Empire, and BC Interior. At least til the end.

Plans A, B or C?

At the end of that road, Vanholio's got a buddy with open invite up in the Haida Gwaii islands. Plan A after is a sidetrip ta Hyder, AK ta notch Vanholio's belt with his 50th USA state. Then it's back south one way or d'other.

But who knows! Maybe he'll hear the Northern Lights callin'! Plans B and C is up the ALCAN Highway or by Alaska State Ferry along the Alaska Marine Highway … Ya'll stay tuned!

So, ya got advice? Wanna hear it. Post in them comments!

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Last Update: 1/22/2019

Vanholio! Is Back! On the Road!

vanholio van overloaded with stuff on top, sagging down the back shocks

Fuck Texas! And fuck house imprisonment! Vanholio's got his dump on the market and's already hit the fuckin' road, Ya'll!

If ya read my last post 6 month ago, ya know that I'd decided ta settle awhile at my rental house in Texas – a failed Baltic Avenue type rental. Bad bizness.

Dreams! Vanholio'd dreamt a woodworkin', gardenin', paintin', and all such housebound pursuits! Especially hangin' with my peeps near every weekend and odd times.

But it was not ta be. Ended up doin' almost none a that shit. Ended up mostly sleepin' on the floor in one tiny room. Might as well a been a van with a cracked engine block!

What can I say? It was a dead end taken, a wrong road turned onto. The only good things was FAST internet and an oven ta bake my bread an' chicken wings easy.

I'm back in the Vanholio! Territory! – for now – livin' the vanlife and dreamin' bigger dreams. And hopin' that fuckin' house sells damn quick, afore it costs me too much taxes and utilities.

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