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How to Find Public Showers While Traveling

How to Find Public Showers While Traveling

Have you ever used a public shower? Traveling can make it challenging to maintain a routine, even ones you’ve done your entire life. You’ll likely want to spend the bulk of your time seeing and doing epic things when you travel and may forget that those activities can make you dirty. 

Compound the exhaustion from a full day with the challenge of getting clean, and it may take you days to take a long, hot shower. Today we’ll help you prepare to tackle this challenge by sharing some tips for how you can find a public shower while traveling. Let’s get started.

Where Can You Shower When You’re on the Road?

Finding a place to shower while on the road can seem tricky but not impossible. You can find many public showers so you can get clean while away from home. Let’s look at some options.

Best Places to Shower on the Road (Vanlife, Camping, Road Trips, etc.)

Planet Fitness/Gyms

You can stay fit and have fun at fitness centers and gyms while traveling, and they often have showers. Many travelers join Planet Fitness or other similar fitness chains for the relatively inexpensive monthly fee, access to gyms around the country, and because they can take a hot shower.

Typically, no one will monitor how long you work out or even if you work out at all. You’ll want to make sure that you confirm your membership works nationwide, and you won’t have restrictions when signing up. Some membership levels only allow members to use their home facility. 

Cost: The PF Black Card gives you unlimited access to any Planet Fitness nationwide and costs $22.99 a month.

You can join other nationwide fitness clubs like Anytime Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness; however, these can easily cost double each month. Remember that many of these clubs have enrollment and annual fees. 

Where to Find Them: With over 2,000 Planet Fitness locations, you can easily find a location near you. If not, search for other fitness clubs in the area you want to travel to so you don’t have to miss out on the public showers.

Ease of Use: You may find using a Planet Fitness or another gym for showering while traveling incredibly easy. Most club members stick to themselves while working out, and you can easily get in and out without much issue.

Showers in a gym
Most gyms will have showers available for members to use.

Rec Centers

Many urban and rural communities have rec centers. These facilities typically offer a variety of fitness equipment and health and sports activities for the members. 

While you won’t get nationwide membership programs, you can often pay for day-usee access. Take advantage of this relatively cost-effective public shower while traveling. 

These facilities focus on helping the community, and they may also offer other amenities like free Wi-Fi or workstations. You’ll want to call in advance or check with each local rec center to confirm availability, amenities, and hours of operation.

Cost: Rec centers serve individual communities and won’t have national chains, so you won’t have to pay a monthly membership if you travel from one area to another. However, many rec centers may only charge a few bucks per visit. 

Where to Find Them: You may or may not find a rec center in every town as local taxes or initiatives typically fund them. Google the city or town where you’ll travel to and “rec center.” Consider seeking out this affordable public shower option.

Ease of Use: You can easily use a rec center for showering. They’ll often have locker rooms for changing before and after working out. Most offer shower stalls to provide privacy for users.

Woman happily showering
Stay sweet-smelling on the road by using public shower options.

Public Beaches

If you find yourself near the coast, you’ll likely easily find a shower. Typically you’ll find these public showers outdoors for rinsing off salt and sand from splashing in the waves or laying on the beach. 

Additionally, these outdoor public showers likely mean you have to stay fully clothed since they won’t often have stalls or a curtain. You must also limit your soap usage and use biodegradable products to protect the local aquatic life.

Cost: Typically you can use these showers for free. However, you’ll often find them in parking lots near the beach, so you might have to pay for parking occasionally to use them.

Where to Find Them: You’ll find beach showers on the coast. However, just because you don’t live near the ocean doesn’t mean you don’t have other options. 

Many public-use rivers and lakes have similar showers for rinsing off. You’ll often find them near restroom facilities at popular swimming holes.

Ease of Use: Showering at a public beach is incredibly easy to use. The water will often have a very short timer to avoid wasting water, but it’s a small sacrifice for a free shower while traveling. 

Also, remember that you can’t guarantee that these showers will function when you need to use them. You can’t always rely on this great free option. 

Woman showering on beach
Beach showers can be used not just for sand removal, but also to stay clean while on the road!

Truck Stops

Millions of professional truck drivers travel the roads every day. As they move around constantly, they need to shower too. Truck stops typically do a great job catering to the needs of truck drivers traveling full time.

Keep in mind that some truck stops restrict availability to truck drivers only. However, Flying J and a few other locations typically open their facilities to the public.

Cost: These public showers may cost more but often come with soap, shampoo, and everything you need to freshen up. They also usually have an attendant clean and sanitize the showers after each use. So while they do cost more, you won’t have to worry about showering in a sketchy or dirty facility.

Where to Find Them: Flying J has over 650 locations across the country. Combine that with other major truck stop chains like Pilot, Loves, and TA, and you can find thousands of public showers across the country. Plus, you can find them conveniently located near major highways and interstates.

Ease of Use: While you may have never considered showering at a truck stop, this can make a great option for a quick and convenient place to get clean. You’ll often have to pay in advance for your shower and take a number to wait for your turn. 

You may have to wait a while if you want to shower during peak times. Some locations will limit you to 30 minutes, but rules typically vary from one place to another. If you have to rush off, keep this in mind, as it may take longer than you think.

Flying J truck stop with trucks and RVs parked.
Truck stops are quick and convenient stops when looking for somewhere to shower when on the road.

Campgrounds

Even if you don’t go camping, try finding a campground to score a shower. Many campgrounds offer restroom and shower facilities to guests. 

Even if you don’t plan to stay, you can ask if they’d let you take a quick shower. Some campgrounds may charge a small fee, but you may get lucky and get a free shower. 

Cost: For insurance purposes, many campgrounds will only allow registered guests to use their facilities. This means you will likely need to reserve a site or pay a day-use fee. 

Depending on the campground, this could cost anywhere from $5 to $50. Make sure to call ahead if you don’t plan to camp or book a site in advance to avoid any issues when you arrive.

Where to Find Them: You can find thousands of campgrounds all over the country. They range from smaller county parks to large RV parks.

You can use mobile phone apps like Campendium and iOverlander to locate campgrounds with shower facilities. This can help you weed out the campgrounds that may not have clean restrooms or bad reviews.

Ease of Use: It can be easy to find and use a campground’s shower facilities. If you stay in a campground with mostly RVs, they’ll often use the showers in their RVs. This means you’re less likely to need to wait in line for other campers to finish up before you can freshen up.

How Do You Find Public Showers in New Places?

Finding a public shower in a new place doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a couple of great resources to help you stay looking and smelling fresh while traveling.

Online Directories

Check out one of the greatest online resources: Public Shower Directory. It has hundreds of nationwide locations where users can easily find a place to take a shower. 

Many sites provide contact information and the number of shower stalls available. They offer everything from truck stops to city parks and everything in between. You can even add new locations to help other travelers.

Apps

You can use your phone to find a public shower. One popular app, iOverlander, even has search filters that enable you to limit results to show public showers. 

This can make it incredibly easy to find one near you and read reviews from fellow travelers. It only takes one negative shower experience before you’ll make sure to read the reviews first.

Person using phone to google search.
Find public showers online and on apps.

No Shower? Here’s How to Clean Up Quick

Sometimes you may travel or all of your trip in remote locations. It may require you to get creative when taking a shower. Here are a few tips for staying clean when you can’t access a public shower.

Use a Solar Shower

A solar shower harnesses energy from the sun to heat your water. This is extremely convenient when you camp with no one around. You can enjoy the view while you take a warm shower. Can you ask for anything better?

Pro Tip: Stay clean and save energy with one of these 5 Best Outdoor Solar Showers for Getting Clean While Camping.

Body Wipes to the Rescue

If you’ve never seen a body wipe, imagine a baby wipe, but only ten times larger. These compare to the size of a towel and work great for wiping the sweat and dirt off your body. 

While it can’t exactly replace a shower, it can do a fantastic job of extending your time between baths. Anyone traveling with you will appreciate it.

Pro Tip: If you’re stuck in a pinch and need to clean up quick, try body wipes. We uncovered all their is to know about Body Wipes for Camping: Ew or Awesome?

Take a Natural Shower 

For centuries people bathed in creeks, rivers, and streams. So why not give it a try?

You’ll want to use environmentally friendly soaps and wear a bathing suit. You never know when a group of tourists might come walking around the bend. 

Ensure the water is clean and safe and doesn’t have a strong current that might sweep you away.

Person using wipe to clean hands.
When in doubt, use wipes to keep clean!

How to Prep for a Public Shower

If you plan to use a public shower, do a few things in advance. Let’s learn what you need to do, so you have no issues getting squeaky clean.

Wear Flip Flops

Even if the showers look clean, public showers can transmit indirect infections. They can carry large amounts of fungi, bacteria, and viruses, especially in the wet shower and around the restroom. These germs can enter your system through your feet and eventually cause you issues.

So make sure you have a cheap pair of flip flops that you designate as your shower shoes. Avoid stepping on the floor of the shower room with your bare feet. 

Bring Change

If you thought quarters were only for doing laundry, you might be in for a surprise. Some shower facilities require users to pay, and sometimes with quarters. 

The length of time the shower will run per quarter will vary, but some only last two or three minutes. So you’ll either need to learn to shower fast or have plenty of quarters.

Come Prepared

While some public showers will provide soap or shampoo, most don’t. It’s always best to have your own. You don’t want to show up to shower and not have the supplies you need.

Keep a travel bag with you supplied with the necessities. It can make it easy for you to carry your stuff to and from the shower and help you avoid leaving anything behind when you leave.

@NRuedisueli via Twenty20

Want to Travel With Your Own Shower? You Might Love RVing

If none of the above options appeals to you while traveling, you do have another option: bring a shower with you.

Most RVs have showers. If you travel a lot and dread the showering experience, you might want to look into getting a camper with a bathroom. Take a hot, enclosed shower without having to move all your soaps, towels, and hygiene products. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can take a shower anywhere you’re parked!

→ Is RVing for you? First, you want to understand the costs of RVing.

Stay Clean No Matter Where You Roam

So now you can see that staying clean and smelling good while traveling can be relatively easy to do. You have a good chance of finding some sort of free or cheap public shower throughout the country. 

However, remember to bring your own supplies, and wear flip-flops or other shower shoes, and a way to pay. Now you know you can maintain proper hygiene and still travel to some incredible places.

Where’s the oddest place you’ve ever showered? Tell us in the comments below!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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