Recently, three readers reached out requesting follow-up information on three past posts. Today is a good day for the first one. In the next few months, I will do a follow-up post on my decision to go with the twin bed layout in my trailer, the single hardest decision when it came to building my trailer. I’ll also do a future post about how the pets have adjusted to life on the road. But for today, I share tips and tricks for showering in a RV campground bathhouse.
Two months back, I wrote tips and tricks for taking an RV shower. In it, I said I prefer to shower in a campground bathhouse because it offers more space compared to my RV shower, a wet bath. Plus, the less moisture released into my trailer, the better.
The reader who requested this post said she hates showering in campground bathhouses. Her preference is in the comfort of her own rig. Her rig—a Class A—and shower are larger than mine so I can understand her point of view.
But one of the reasons she hates campground bathhouses is because she hasn’t mastered the RV campground bathhouse. Things get wet. She forgets to bring everything she needs. Plus, she doesn’t enjoy the walk to and from the bathhouse. She requested I write a post filled with tips and tricks for RV campground bathhouse showering for those times when she doesn’t have a choice but to shower in one.
Here it is.
Variety of Campgrounds
For those who don’t have an RV yet, let me explain why a person might not have a choice but to use an RV campground bathhouse. Not all campgrounds have full hookups. In my experience many state, city and county campgrounds only have electric and water. No sewer. Sewer service must be harder and more expensive to put in and maintain.
Other campgrounds might offer you either full hookups or electric-water only. However, the no-sewer sites can be up to $10 less per night. So those on a budget might decide the savings is worth the inconvenience.
Without a sewer connection, all the water used inside the rig collects in the gray tank. That’s water for dishes, hand washing and showering. And a gray tank is only so big. Gray tanks range in size based on the size of the rig. Mine, for example, is 32 gallons. My reader’s Class A holds 45-gallons of gray water. By the way, water from the toilet goes into a separate tank called the black tank.
I haven’t taken a navy shower yet (where you turn off the water while soaping up to save water), so I cannot report on the exact water usage for that type of shower. But I can report that I use between six and eight gallons of water when I take a regular shower.
That’s a no-nonsense, get in and get out shower. It includes a shampoo, a conditioner, a face wash, a body wash and a final rinse of me and the shower. No shaving, long conditioning treatments or relaxing under the warm water spray.
From there, it’s just math. In my case, I’d maybe get four showers if I didn’t use a lot of other water. Guessing, it would probably double it if I took navy showers. Take a shower every other day and you double the time the gray tank can be in use. Take one every three days and you triple the days.
So, if you are careful, you should be able to make it a couple weeks before the gray tank needs emptied. Many of these campgrounds have a dump station. That means you can take your rig to the dump station to empty your tanks. It can be kind of a pain though because, even though the distance is super short, you still have to prepare the rig for travel. Unplugging and stowing everything. Most people dump their tanks as they are leaving the campground.
But, if you don’t want to go through all that calculation and worry, there is often an easy solution. Shower at the campground’s bathhouse. Doing so significantly extends the time before the gray tank fills from dish and hand washing.
So, let’s talk the campground bathhouse.
Variety of Campground Bathhouses
Let me start by saying two things. First, some campgrounds may not have a bathhouse. It’s infrequent, but not unheard of. Be sure to look at a campground’s website to know what amenities you’ll find when you arrive. And, if this is really important to you, call to verify. Unfortunately, I have found several campground websites to be out of date.
Second, every campground will have a different setup. It’s the reason why, after the rig is setup at a new campground, I hook Solstice up to her leash and we go for a walk. I want to get the lay of the land, so to speak.
Specifically, I look for laundry areas, bathrooms, showers and garbage cans. It’s also nice to check out other amenities like walking trails and the swimming pool, and to pick up area brochures at the front office. I poke my
head into the bathroom and/or shower facilities so I know what to expect when it comes time for my shower the next morning.
There are three types of bathroom and shower setups:
- A one-room big bathroom with multiple sinks, individual toilet stalls and individual shower stalls.
- A more traditional public bathroom with multiple sinks and individual toilet stalls. Then a separate entrance for showers, usually in the same building. Most often, these are individual showers in their own little room rather than a bank of showers.
- Individual bathrooms with the complete setup: a toilet, sink and shower.
Number three, hands down, is my favorite. I’m sure it’s everyone’s. I like having a sink available after a shower because I put use a post-shower hair product that’s a bit sticky so I follow it with a hand wash. It’s so convenient when a sink is close by. I also like to brush my teeth before I shower. Without a sink, I end up brushing them in the shower. For men who shave, I’m sure the same holds true.
Number one is the next best for the same reason. Everything is in one location. The difference between this and number three is the level of privacy.
All of that explained, however, doesn’t change how I shower or what I take with me to the bathhouse.
Tips and Tricks
Like many other aspects of RV life, showering in a bathhouse doesn’t have a sticks-and-bricks equivalent to compare it to. Maybe showering at a gym? So, it is through trial and error that I figured out what works best for me. At times, that’s meant trying three, four, five or more different ways of doing something before I hit perfection.
I hope some of these tips and tricks will help you. But experiment until you find the way that works best.
If I could only offer one tip, it would be to use a shower caddy. It’s ideal for holding all your products. Interestingly, I haven’t seen other people use them. For the most part, I see people heading to the showers with a plastic grocery bag.
Maybe they haven’t perfected the RV campground shower yet or maybe they aren’t full-time RVers so don’t have the need to.
I like the caddy with holes in the bottom for water to escape. I don’t want a little standing water to get things slimy. Inevitably, the caddy gets wet. I’ve stopped fighting that fact. For me, it’s usually because I drape my washcloth over the caddy after the shower to walk back to my rig. But even if I didn’t, it would still manage to get a little wet.
Clean the caddy regularly (or whatever you use to carry your shower items). That’s tip number two. About every two weeks, I take everything out and wipe it down. If you don’t have pets, you can double or triple the amount of time between cleanings. If you have pets, the compartments get loaded with pet hair. Even when you put the caddy in a place where pets don’t go. Still not sure how that happens, but it does.
One reason I like the caddy is it holds a lot, including items I don’t always use. If I get to the shower and decide I want to do a face mask or a body scrub, I have what I need with me. I use a medium-large-sized caddy and I do wish I had gotten the bigger one because I buy the economy-sized shampoo and conditioners. Plus the caddy also needs to hold the products you use post-shower such as lotion, hair products, etc.
As I’m gathering my items to head to the bathhouse, I stuff scrubby gloves and a washcloth in between the bottles. Tip number three is to remember scrubby gloves and washcloths. It’s one of the easiest things to forget. You can’t leave them stuffed in the caddy from the day before or they won’t dry and will get that funky mildew smell.
A couple notes here:
- Unless I’ve exercised beforehand, I wear the same clothes to and from the shower because it’s less to remember and less to carry. I wear a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. Also known as my pajamas. In colder temperatures the t-shirt becomes a sweatshirt. Some people wear bathrobes to and from the bathhouse.
- If I exercised, I’ll have clothes and sneakers on. I don’t change into pajamas before I shower because they will get sweaty and smelly. In this case, I put my pajamas in a bag (I use a cloth grocery bag) and then, at the shower, put the sweaty clothes in the bag to carry them back to the rig and put my pajamas on after the shower.
- Slip-on shoes work best because they are easy to get on and off once you get to the shower. I prefer Crocs but many people wear flip-flops. When I’ve exercised and have on sneakers, I kick those off and slip on the Crocs before heading to the shower.
Once in the shower area, I have one last trick to share. I told a friend about this, calling it my lazy trick. She said, “You aren’t lazy. You’re efficient.” So, I now call this my efficient trick.
Whether you keep your bathroom supplies in a plastic caddy (like mine), a mesh tote or a simple grocery bag, a common problem is that everything gets wet. This happens for two reasons: 1) you put things away wet, and 2) water just splashes around, especially because many campgrounds don’t use shower curtains.
A possible solution to the second is to adjust the shower head as much as you can away from your stuff. Obviously, the solution to the first problem is to thoroughly dry everything.
But if you are lazy like me, the efficient trick becomes to get as few bottles wet as possible to begin with. Normally, you’d put all the bottles you want to use into the shower stall, right? Instead, consider this. Put products on your body dry before you get into the shower
Before I turn on the shower I put a glob of shampoo on top of my head, in my dry hair. Then put the bottle back in my caddy. It never touches water.
Same for face wash. This might not work for everyone but mine is a thick cream so it clings to the side of my face until I get into shower. It’s only conditioner and soap, then, that go into the shower with me. But if you are using body wash, you could put the squirt you’ll need into the palm of your hand.
Then, I make sure the caddy is as far away as possible from the shower to help get it as far away from shower to reduce the splashed water that reaches it.
I cannot offer any tips for those who don’t like walking to and from the shower. Except maybe one. When you make your reservations for a campground where you know you’ll be using the bathhouse, ask for a spot near the bathhouse. You still have to walk, just not as far.
Me, I like walking to and from the bathhouse. It helps me meet my step goal for the day.
I would love to hear your thoughts and other tips for showing in an RV campground bathhouse.
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