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Let’s talk about bathhouses.
Many of those who’ve grown up camping can probably dig up a few core memories at this moment…
I sure remember making that awful trek through the dark and showering with several skeetos.
Though bathhouses have gotten a bad rap, it’s important to understand that not all facilities are the same. In fact, they WIDELY differ from campground to campground– and not just by cleanliness– but by structure, style, layout, and more.
RV Campground Bathhouses 101
About Campground Bathhouses
In general, campground bathhouse facilities are structures on a campground or RV Park premises that provide guests toilets and showers for the duration of their stay.
Parks can include multiple showering and bathroom facilities on a property, or supply very limited options for travelers– some lacking plumbing altogether. This commonly depends on the location of the campground and what type of guest amenities they offer.
Besides, with today’s helpful online reviews and business websites, RVers can get a pretty good idea of what to expect by doing a quick search!
Avid RVers can see ANYTHING from: small to roomy stalls; coin operated showers; endless hot water on demand; or even all-in-one, bath-combos with a toilet, shower, and sink in one private room!
In fact, some RV resorts offer up-scale shower houses with hot water on demand and stalls so spacious your backside and elbows don’t ever touch the walls! There’s roomy countertops, fancy hand soaps, real toilet paper and…
NOT those tiddly-camper-toilets where your foot is on the pedal flusher or straight out the bathroom door and– that most notably– lack the power needed to face the family eating their way through vacation…
Who uses campground bathhouses?
As for WHO uses bathhouses, you’ll find that every type of camper IN. THE. BOOK hits the showers.
Most obviously; teardrop owners, truck campers, rustic cabins and pop-ups– due to the lack of on-board facilities (toilets & showers) the bigger rigs tend to have.
Even so, travel trailers, 5th-wheel owners and even many of the big rig owners with those 40-foot BIG BOXES OF LUXURY— ditch their own on-board, porcelain thrones for campground facilities!
Now, you’ll meet two types of campers in this world…
Those dead set against using public restrooms and those at odds with using their own rigs delicate facilities.
On one hand, many argue that one of the best reasons for owning an RV is having your own toilet, shower, and sink wherever you go.
Then again, just the thought of a large family’s daily duties wreaking havoc on the trailer’s plumbing lines, is reason enough for many to hit the bathhouse facilities instead. Not to mention the moisture showering adds to a unit, increasing the likelihood of mold and mildew, and ultimately speeding up the depreciation process.
Plus, it doesn’t take long for new RV owners or renters to figure out that these poo-holders– when not correctly maintained– can easily be prone to clogs, odors, or even the dreaded poo pyramid.
Why use campground bathhouses?
- Campgrounds may lack full-hookup
- Transient guests may not want the hassle of hooking-up the RV
- Saves on-board fresh water (& propane to heat it!)
- Doesn’t fill RV holding tanks as quickly (by using campground resources)
- Decreases having to dump the gray and black tanks as often
- Less moisture and depreciation on the camper unit
- Roomier shower stalls
- Longer showers and endless hot water
- Better water pressure than your RV regulator allows
- Stronger flushing toilets
- Real toilet paper
Remember, not all campgrounds offer full-hookup connections. RVers must be careful when it comes to water usage. Without sewer and/or water connections, showers and frequent flushing pulls from the unit’s fresh water tank, quickly depleting the on-board fresh water supply. At the same time, this can cause holding tanks (gray and black) to fill up fast. Add dishes, hand-washing, and other water use to the mix and your RV tanks will need to be dumped!
By using campground resources, campers can save their own water supply and the hassle of dumping– all while eliminating excess moisture and wear and tear to the unit.
Even when full-hookup is offered, transient guests may not bother with hooking up for one night.
For example, after a long day of driving, some just need a quick shower and a couple hours of sleep before hitting the road again. Rather than rolling into an RV park at midnight and struggling with the sewer and water in the dark, some may choose to head to the shower house, instead. This helps make for a quick departure in the morning, plus keeps the on-board water reserve full and leaves the holding tanks still empty!
RVING IS BEING | Bath House 101
Whether long-term campers or weekenders, you’ll most likely hit the showers at one point or another on your adventures.
Tackling the bathhouse with a few tips in mind can make a much easier experience and stay!
Bath House 101 | Check It Out
Remember, bathhouses widely vary from campground to RV resorts– and not just by cleanliness.
The structure, stalls, counter space, cleaning schedules and even whether or not they charge for shower use.
With that in mind, after arrival and hooking up your rig, quickly swing by the bathhouse and check it out!
Take note of shower availability, hooks or benches available for setting personal items, and if you’ll need to bring quarters for coin operated showers.
- Note the bathhouse entry code
- Check for posted cleaning schedules
- Look to see if showers are coin operated
- Double check counter space and/or plug outlets for styling products
- Take a look at available hooks and benches in the shower stalls for belongings
Basic amenities are often included in reservation fees. However, some parks charge for water consumption in the form of coin (or token) operated showers. These time-operated systems shut off the shower water after the timer has run out.
Although seen as a nuisance– think about it from a business perspective. It’s a cost-effective way to reduce excessive water and energy use while preserving hot water for the next guest. And unfortunately, not all campers treat bathroom facilities like it’s their own. In the long run, coin-operated showers are a way to prevent needless waste and abuse.
Don’t get these confused with push-button showers! These are a similar, no-waste concept, but are coin-less and run for a minute or so before needing to be re-pushed.
Price wise, coin-operated showers seem to run all over the board… (From .25 cents/10 minutes, .50 cents/10 minutes, .25 cents/6 minutes, and $1.00/5 minutes.) While pricing seems inconsistent between campgrounds, don’t expect to see coin-operated shower machines at every park!
Bath House 101 | Use the Right Gear
Remember, these stalls see sweaty, bonfire-smelling-bodies all day long! Aside from cleanliness, some facilities are not air conditioned, well ventilated, or include those convenient shelf and towel racks your comfy, bath abode does at home. In reality, items may find themselves balancing on one lonely hook or piled up on a bench.
Because of this, it’s important to pack the right gear and accessories for public bathhouses you may encounter down the road.
Wear no-slip shower shoes. Choose a pair of flip-flops or sandals that are easy-on, no-slip, and quick drying. Crocs are always a camp fav! They are breathable, washable, and shed water quickly.
Pack toiletries in a portable shower caddy. It’s inevitable that certain toiletries will get wet, harboring bacteria between camping trips. Invest in a plastic or mesh caddy so that water can drain and contents dry quickly.
Hang toiletries up by this octopus shower caddy. It’s easy to clean and can be hung inside or out of the shower with your favorite essentials!
Bring your own bath hooks. No hooks available? Rather than trying to carefully balance belongings over the shower door, or worse, setting your things on the floor— EWW— bring a couple hooks with you! In the long run, skip the suction cup hooks. (Most surfaces are textured, causing these to fall.) Go for a durable hook like TidyHouse’s or iDesign’s Over the Door Hook.
Don’t forget a towel, or two! An extra towel may come in handy for setting clean belongings on, just in case the stall lacks a bench or towel hooks.
Go for squeeze-bottle or single-use soap. Wander + Wash Pocket Soap works great for outdoor adventures! One slice is perfect for one shower.
Prevent leaks and spills with Leaklocks Toiletry Skins. This design stretches over most standard- sized items and travel sized toiletries to seal and prevent from spilling.
Invest in travel toiletry containers. Easy open bottles without the loose, screw-off-style-tops, are the way to go! Fill with your favorite products in the three-layer, leak-proof design.
Skip the loofah. A silicone body scrubber is easy to clean after each use while limiting bacteria from clinging on to the material. Make sure to look for something with a loop-handle for good grip and to easily hang dry.
Create more counter space with the Matte Makeup Organizer. Not just for makeup- this versatile mat is a GREAT ACCESSORY for RVers! While you may not want to throw this over a public restroom sink, it is great for creating more room in your own camper bathroom.
Gather toiletries with Lay-n-Go Drawstring Toiletry Organizer. This useful design keeps toiletries from rolling away and can be easily accessed or stored within seconds. When opened your essentials are flat, organized, and easy to sort through. Durable and machine washable.
Don’t forget a wet bag for dirty clothes. Repurpose grocery sacks for this!
Carry belongings in a durable tote. The Bogg Bag is the ultimate camping bag– perfect for a day at the beach, boat, or lake. It’s completely waterproof, washable, and the best part– TIP-PROOF! Throw in the necessities and head to the bathhouse without worrying about your belongings tipping over in the stall. (Don’t forget the stylish zipper inserts for holding smaller items like: money, wallet, or keys!)
Make it accessible and comfortable. Unfortunately, shower facilities aren’t always built easily accessible for everyone. This lightweight and portable Shower Chair holds up to 350 LBS. With eight adjustable heights and anti-slip legs, it can be easily assembled without any tools.
Bath House 101 | Dress Efficiently
Some campers haul it all to the shower house and get ready for their day there.
Others, bring the minimum, and leave the glam for back at the camper.
Whatever route you take, consider these tips and ideas:
- Pack easy on and off clothing.
- Choose shorts or roll up long pants to prevent them from dragging on the bathhouse floors.
- The less clothing articles to change back into, the better. To be clear, we’re not saying less fabric… Bathhouses can be hot and humid– making getting dressed a sticky workout. Really, imagine trying to put on an elaborate, red-carpet assemble in a hot yoga studio while pretending the slimy floor is lava… Go for loose-fitting shorts and tee, a sundress, or an oversized tunic to get you quickly dressed and back to the camper.
- Shower shoes are a must! Flip flops work, but can be slippery and not offer much sole thickness to get you up and out of the slimy, shower water.
- Protect clean clothes in a grocery sack or wet bag until you are done showering. Some shower stalls are small. Even worse, some shower heads have a mind of their own! To prevent clean clothing from getting drenched, carry articles, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. Try to set this up off the floor, if possible, and away from the shower’s spray. Once you’re done showering, get out your dry clothes and reuse the bag for dirty clothes and wet towels to haul back to the camper.
Shower shoes are a must! Flip flops work, but can be slippery and not offer much sole thickness to get you up and out of the slimy, shower water. Crocs have better traction, thicker soles, and are an all-around great camping shoe. Similarly, check out the thick sole on these BRONAX Cloud Slippers!
Designed with an oversize fit, this changing robe comes in super handy at the showers or a day at the beach. The microfiber material quickly absorbs water, keeping you warm for the trek back to the camper.
A long, tunic, style hoodie jacket, like Grace Karin’s, is suitable for all seasons and can easily be thrown on over shorts when heading to the showers!
Loved by water sports enthusiasts, the CULTHOOD Changing Robe is super roomy, warm, and moisture absorbing. Made from thick microfiber fabric, this oversized-poncho blocks wind while making it easy to change clothes– even right in public!
Bath House 101 | Other Tips
Consider shower times. Bathhouses are typically packed at the crack of dawn and in the evening. Try to beat the crowd or get a shower in between the busy times.
Take note of the cleaning schedule. Many park restrooms close down for a period of the day to be cleaned. Knowing when the building is closed for cleaning can not only save you a long walk to a temporarily closed building– but if you time it just right, you can get in right after it’s squeaky clean!
Bring a lantern or flashlight for trekking to and from the bathhouse in the evening. The Nicron N7 Tactile Flashlight features a magnetic tail cap for hands free use and can even be used in heavy rainfall– great for the shower bag!
Bring plenty of quarters. Although not very common, there are such things as coin operated showers! Make sure you’ve brought enough change to rinse clean! To use, simply drop quarters into the machine. Try to plan out time and quarters accordingly! (Keep in mind, it may take a good minute to heat up!)
Check the water pressure, hot water and door lock– before getting naked… Before claiming a shower stall and stripping down, check to make sure everything works. (The hot water works, the door latches securely, there’s hooks and a bench for belongings, etc.) A quick check saves you the hassle of having to pick up and move stalls!
Pack easy products No one wants to be scrounging for the top of the shampoo bottle on a slimy bathroom floor. Go for products without removable twist-tops and small pieces that can easily be dropped. Checkout self-closing toothpaste caps for your favorite toothpastes.
Purchase a quick shower. Hightailing it to the next destination and needing a quick shower? Some campgrounds allow travelers to swing in and access their facilities for just a small fee. It’s worth a call! (Similarly, you’ll find that many campgrounds let RV owners empty tanks using their dump station without staying at the campground.)
Basic campground bathhouse etiquette: Follow the No. 1 Golden Rule of Camping– leave it better than you found it— or at the very least, try to…
No plumbing available? Here’s when dry shampoo becomes an essential! Or, throw a few Drench No Water Shampoo Caps in the camper to get you by! If using any kind of disposable cleansing wipes, for example, Scrubzz Shower Wipes or Surviveware— always dispose of wipes properly! Never flush down your RV’s toilet!
Like to use your own RV bathroom? Create an efficient space! See 100+ Products & Accessories For Your RV Bathroom.
RVING IS BEING adventurous.
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