For many RV shoppers, one of their highest priorities is a bathroom. Some consumers refuse to step into a camper without a bathroom. However, to others, a bathroom simply takes up space and adds unnecessary weight and complexity to the RV.
But do you need a toilet in your camper? Should you consider an RV without a bathroom? These are the questions you need to ask yourself.
Today, we will share some insights you’ll want to consider to help make up your mind. Let’s get started!
Not All Campers Come with a Bathroom
We’ll be honest: we fall pretty squarely in the “needs a bathroom” camp when it comes to RVs. After living full-time in an RV for nearly a decade, we’ve come to appreciate the conveniences of having a bathroom on board.
While many campers come with a restroom, that’s not always the case. Typically, the smaller the rig, the less likely it will have a bathroom. Types of campers that often skip the bathroom include campervans, teardrop trailers, overland trailers, lightweight truck campers, or truck bed campers.
Some of these smaller camper units may have a toilet and sink but not a shower, or simply forego the water closet completely. These may or may not have an outdoor shower connection.
So what do you do when you have to go? How are you to enjoy camping without a bathroom?
Do You Really Need a Bathroom in a Camper?
Before we dove into the RV life, there was a time that we tent camped without having our own restroom, and those times admittedly weren’t awful. Most campgrounds have facilities for campers to use the bathroom and shower. Public restrooms are also widely available as you travel, as most travelers don’t actually travel by RV but rather by passenger vehicles.
So will you survive in a camper without a bathroom? Absolutely. While they’re convenient, they’re not always essential. If you typically camp in state parks and established campgrounds, they generally have community facilities. However, it may require you to grab a flashlight if nature calls in the middle of the night.
While it may not be ideal, you can also relieve yourself in the great outdoors. However, this is usually only an option if you’re setting up camp in a remote area away from others. Trust us, the moon in the sky is the only one you and your camping neighbors want to see.
If you go in nature, do so responsibly. Find a safe place away from water sources, dig a deep enough hole, and don’t bury your toilet paper. Once you do your business, bury it so no animals come along and discover it.
Pro Tip: When you gotta go, you gotta go. If your RV doesn’t have a toilet, use this guide on How to Poop in the Woods.
Sometimes You’re Required To Be Self-Contained
Some places, however, require that your camper be “self-contained.” This phrase means that your camper has gray and black tanks to catch and contain all the wastewater and dirty water that you produce. Campgrounds without sewer hookups at the campsite or non-traditional campsites often have a self-contained requirement as they don’t want people dumping wash water or burying waste in the area. Most national and state park campgrounds also require this.
Pros of Having a Camper Without a Bathroom
While you may not have considered a camper without a bathroom, there are several reasons to do so. Let’s look at some advantages of having an RV without a bathroom.
Who doesn’t like the idea of saving money? RVs without a toilet tend to run on the cheaper side. Running water lines and installing bathroom components takes time and resources. Manufacturers can save money by cutting these items out of the construction process.
While this tends to be a common occurrence, it’s not always the case. Some teardrop trailers can cost upwards of $20,000. You could get a travel trailer with more space and a bathroom for the same price. However, you’ll have to decide if you will trade quality for quantity regarding square footage.
If you won’t use it, a toilet in an RV is a waste of space. By choosing a camper without one, you could have more living space for you and anyone camping with you. This can be useful when the weather doesn’t cooperate and forces you to spend most of your time indoors. If you’re a parent, you’ll appreciate every square foot you can get.
Lighter and Easier to Tow
Unfortunately, we see far too many people pushing the limits of their tow vehicles. Luckily, if you choose an RV without a bathroom, you won’t have to worry nearly as much. Because these RVs are smaller, they also tend to be lighter.
This doesn’t mean you can ignore your towing capacity or load limits. You still need to ensure you’re safe to hit the road. However, you won’t need the biggest and most capable truck to haul most of these trailers. In most cases, light-duty trucks will tend to do the job, but check the tow ratings before hitching up a trailer.
No Black Tank to Empty
For many owners, dumping the black tank is their least favorite task. A black tank stores any solids or liquids you flush down the toilet. RV owners often fear making mistakes and ending up with sewage all over themselves and the ground.
If you purchase a camper without a bathroom, you won’t have to worry about experiencing a “poopsie.” One less thing to worry about is something that any RVer can appreciate. You can spend your time doing the things you love most about RVing.
There Are Plenty of Public Restrooms
From outhouses to well-appointed RV resort bathrooms, you’ll be surprised just how many bathrooms are everywhere once you start looking. And while many get a bad reputation, we’d have to say that most campground bathrooms we’ve visited have been just fine. If you’re planning a few trips a year and are more concerned about the awesome view than a bathroom, you’ll probably be fine.
Cons of Having a Camper Without a Bathroom
While it may sound like going without a bathroom is easy, there are some cons. Let’s look at some negative aspects of buying an RV without one.
Lack of Convenience
Not having a toilet can be incredibly inconvenient. Nature doesn’t always call when it’s timely. Depending on the campground, you may need to walk a distance to get to the nearest commode. This may sound like an excellent opportunity to reach your daily walking steps. However, your opinion might change when it’s raining, dark, or extremely buggy out.
Overall, having a bathroom in your RV is very convenient. You can do your business in your camper instead of walking across the campground to use the facilities. It can save time and get you back to what you were doing before your digestive system interrupted you.
Reliance on Public Restrooms
Many people love having a bathroom in their camper because they don’t have to use a public washroom while traveling. You know the feeling if you’ve ever walked into a sketchy gas station or truck stop washroom.
Whether stopping to fill up on gas or grab a bite to eat, being free from public commodes is a great feeling. You can have confidence knowing the last time someone cleaned the toilet. If it’s messy, you at least know it’s your mess and can do something about it. You also have all your bathroom and shower necessities on board rather than lugging them to the campground facilities every time.
Choosing a camper without a bathroom is also probably not the best choice for full-time RV living or long road trips. While doable, the convenience factor just multiplies as the trip duration gets longer. Also, families traveling with small children will do well to have a potty on board for urgent needs.
Giving up some of your privacy is one of the biggest cons. Bathroom stalls are only just private enough for many people. If you’re one to sing in the shower, you may or may not appreciate having a new audience.
However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It can be an adjustment, especially if you’ve never done it.
Pro Tip: If you want some form of toilet on your adventure, learn more about Portable Camping Toilets: What They Are and How They Work.
Tips for Making Campers Without Bathrooms More Comfortable
There are many ways to overcome all the cons mentioned above. For starters, having a portable toilet on board can relieve emergencies and be a practical solution for small campers. Getting in the habit of ALWAYS using a public restroom before you leave a gas station, rest stop, visitor center, restuarant, or any other establishment will also decrease the number of times you’d have to use a porta-potti or an outhouse.
Using body wipes and bathing in the lake can also help with hygiene when you’re out in nature. And as long as you follow leave no trace and proper burial procedures, you can answer nature’s call wherever you roam.
Should You Buy a Camper Without a Bathroom?
Ultimately, choosing whether to buy a camper without a bathroom is up to you. Spend time processing the pros and cons on our list. In addition, make your own list. Think through how and where you use your camper and have access to facilities.
If you’re uncomfortable with going in nature, consider rigs with a bathroom. However, you can enjoy nature and adventure in remote locations in an RV without one.
Would you consider buying a camper without a restroom? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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