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7 Tips for Showering and Staying Clean While On The Road

Ah, the open road. The freedom, the adventure, the... smell? Yes, folks, it's true. After a few days of car camping, you might start to notice a certain, But fear not, my road-tripping friends! There are plenty of ways to stay fresh while car camping, and I'm here to spill the beans. So, buckle up, grab your rubber ducky, and let's dive in!

1. Gym Memberships (or Get Free Shower)

planet fitness shower

If you're traveling through cities, a monthly membership to a chain gym is the most cost-effective option.

Planet Fitness is one of the most cost-effective options, offering a “PF Black Card” membership with access to many of its locations nationwide for less than $28 a month. If you are a black card member, you can take your friends anywhere for free. You can use the shower for free at any Planet Fitness location.

If you truly want to enjoy a free shower, you can sign up for a Free Trial at a local gym, granting you access to these facilities for up to a week, usually after a tour. Typically, you can only obtain one free pass every 3 to 6 months. However, you can visit different gyms along the way - a Planet Fitness in one city, a 24-Hour Fitness in another city, a Gold's Gym at the third stop, and so on - and enjoy a free shower each time.

If you have used up the free pass, the one-day pass is also a good choice, and the price varies slightly from place to place. 


Day Pass Price

Planet Fitness


Crunch Fitness




Anytime Fitness


Gold’s Gym


24 Hour Fitness 


If you have a free pass or day pass, you can use the showers as well. However, it is important to note that the free pass or day pass does not include access to all amenities such as tanning beds and massage chairs.

To take a shower at Planet Fitness, you will need to bring your own towel and toiletries. You can use the shower stalls provided by the gym. After your shower, you can use the hair dryers and mirrors provided by the gym to get ready.

2. Truck Stops: Not Just for Truckers

pilot truck shop

Next up, we have truck stops. These roadside havens offer showers for a small fee, usually around $12 to $15. You'll get a code to enter one of the private showers, and voila, you're on your way to cleanliness. The facilities are usually clean and well-maintained, and some even offer fresh towels. Just remember to go in the morning when there's less demand.

3. Beaches: Sun, Sand, and Showers

beach shower

If your road trip takes you along the coast, public beaches are a great option for a quick rinse. They may not be warm or private, but hey, you're at the beach! What's not to love? If you're traveling inland, look for public beaches on lakes or rivers. 

Ah, the beach, nature's gift to road trippers. Not only does it offer a soothing vista of endless horizons and sparkling waters, but it also often features the unsung hero of road trip hygiene - public showers! Here's the scoop. Many public beaches, especially those near popular tourist spots, come equipped with shower facilities. They're typically there for beachgoers to rinse off the sand, but guess what? They can double as your personal road trip shower spot.

But before you lather up, remember the golden rule: respect the space. These are communal amenities meant for everyone's use, so it's important to leave it as clean as you found it, if not cleaner. Carry biodegradable soap and shampoo to minimize your environmental impact, and don't forget to pack a quick-dry towel for a swift exit.

And, if you're an early bird or a night owl, consider timing your showers to less busy hours to avoid the crowds. Who knows? You might even catch a breathtaking sunrise or sunset while you're at it. So, while on a road trip, consider the beach more than just a spot for fun under the sun. It can be your solution to staying fresh and clean. After all, there's nothing like a good shower with a view, right?

4. Friends and Strangers: The Kindness of Showering

Now, let's talk about the kindness of strangers and how it plays into your road trip showers. You might be surprised to find out that one of the best ways to freshen up on a road trip could be at the homes of friends, family, or even kind-hearted strangers.

Remember that college buddy who moved to Colorado? Or your aunt in Arizona? It's time to give them a call. More often than not, they'll be thrilled to see you and even offer you a chance to freshen up. But here's the key: don't overstay your welcome. Pop in, catch up, grab a shower, and hit the road again.

But what about those stretches of highway where you don't know a soul? That's where the beauty of human kindness comes in. You'd be amazed at how many folks are willing to help a weary traveler out. Websites like Couchsurfing or Warm Showers are designed to connect travelers with locals who are happy to offer a hot shower and maybe even a warm meal. 

But remember, be considerate. Always express your gratitude and leave a small gift or offer to help out around the house. After all, these generous souls are not just providing a shower, they're enhancing your road trip experience with their kindness. This is what road tripping is all about, isn't it? The open road, new experiences, and the heartwarming generosity of people you meet along the way.

5. State Parks and Campsites: Nature's Bathroom

Alright, let's venture into the great outdoors and talk about state parks and campsites, often referred to as nature's bathroom. Whether you're passing through the towering sequoias of California or exploring the rocky coastlines of Maine, these parks are scattered across the country and are an excellent solution for your showering needs while on the road.

State parks and campsites often provide well-maintained shower facilities for campers, and these are generally open to day visitors too for a small fee. Just imagine, you can freshen up while breathing in the scent of pine trees and listening to the songs of local birdlife. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Just keep in mind to plan your visit accordingly. Shower facilities may have specific opening and closing hours, and you might need to carry some coins for hot water. And, as always, leave no trace. Use eco-friendly toiletries and make sure you leave the shower as clean as you found it.

So, let's embrace the spirit of adventure. With state parks and campsites, you not only get a shower but also an invitation to connect with nature and experience the tranquility that comes with it. Remember, a road trip isn't just about reaching your destination, it's about the journey. And what better way to journey than to stay fresh and clean amidst the beauty of nature?

6. The DIY Approach: When All Else Fails

Now, for those moments when you find yourself far from public facilities, friends' homes, or state parks, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get a little creative. This is where the DIY approach to road trip hygiene comes into play.

Have you ever considered a portable camping shower? They're lightweight, easy to pack, and can turn any secluded spot into your own private bathroom. Simply fill up the bag with water, hang it from a tree, and let the sun heat it up. Voila! You've got yourself a warm, refreshing shower. 

But, of course, privacy is key. Seek out secluded areas and always make sure you're not infringing on any local regulations or private properties. And again, the golden rule of outdoor ethics applies: leave no trace. Use environmentally-friendly products and ensure you dispose of any waste properly.

Remember, a road trip is about embracing the unexpected. So, when conventional options fail, don't fret. With a little resourcefulness and a sense of adventure, you can keep clean and refreshed no matter where the road takes you. After all, isn't overcoming challenges part of the thrill of the journey? So, go ahead, get innovative and enjoy the freedom of the open road!

7. The Bird Bath Method: Old School Cool

Alright, folks. Let's take a step back in time and revisit an old school method - the bird bath. This tried-and-true technique may lack the full immersion of a traditional shower, but don't underestimate its effectiveness. It's all about being resourceful and embracing the charm of the road trip life.

The bird bath method is simple. All you need is a washcloth, a bit of biodegradable soap, and a small amount of water. The goal here is to target the key zones - the pits, bits, and feet. These are the areas that tend to need the most attention after a day on the road. 

Now, you might be thinking, "This isn't quite the spa experience I had in mind." But here's the deal: this method is a water-saver, a real plus when you're on the road and resources are scarce. And let's face it, there's something nostalgically cool about this back-to-basics approach, right?

So, when you find yourself in a pinch, remember the bird bath method. It's a testament to the fact that road tripping isn't always about glamour, it's about adaptation, conservation, and embracing the unexpected. And who knows? You might find that this old school cool becomes your new road trip ritual.


So there you have it, folks. Staying clean while car camping is easier than you might think. With a little planning and a few key resources, you can enjoy the open road without sacrificing your hygiene. So go ahead, embrace the adventure, and remember: a clean camper is a happy camper!

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John Harvey

John is a car camping enthusiast with a 2009 Jeep Wrangler. He loves pizza 🍕 and enjoys the company of his mischievous cat.