There’s a lot of little things to to think about when you are traveling full time on the road. Where am I going to do laundry? What kind of campsite are we going to stay in? How often am I really going to cook? And how good is the camp shower?
A little Airstream anatomy for you: Airstreams (and most RVs) are equipped with 3 tanks underneath: the fresh water tank, the black tank (toilet), and the gray water tank (showers, sinks, dishwater, etc). A typical state park campsite will have hook-ups for both electricity and water but not sewer. Meaning, we have power and fresh water but no immediately convenient place to empty our tanks. Instead they provide a dump station where you pull up, connect your hose and then empty both your gray and black tanks. We try not to do that during the middle of our stay: it takes us about an hour to hitch the truck, stow everything for travel, drive over to the dump station, connect the hose, empty the tanks, put the hose back away, drive back over to the campsite, unhitch and re-stabilize the trailer. To save the time and hassle, we make the tanks last the entire time we are parked at a campground so that we dump on our way out.
Back to showering. Our Airstream does have one. Its actually quite a nice shower too. Just tall enough that you don’t have to slouch (Sam is 6′), and there’s a wand that makes showering Cara pretty easy. The biggest problem is water conservation when we don’t have a sewer hook-up right at our site. Not necessarily water coming in, but its the water going out that’s a problem. When you shower 5 people you tend to go through a lot of water no matter how careful you are. Add on dishes & hand washing and in 1 or 2 days our gray tank is full. Then it’d be the slog over to the dump station, and really we just don’t have time for that.
So, what do we do? Camp showers. Most of the state parks we have visited so far in Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, and Texas have a comfort station with bathrooms, sinks, electric outlets, and showers for overnight camper use. We have a bathroom caddy with our shampoo, conditioner, and soap, and we’ll throw on our flip-flops, grab a towel and walk over to the showers.
I’ll be honest, at first I was pretty hesitant. Do you know how many people have probably showered in there? Ewwww…. Turns out, 99% of the showers are kept very clean by the camp hosts. Most have really good water pressure, and I can just turn the water on hot and let it run, and run, and run. In a way, I prefer showering there as opposed to the water conservation act we pull most times we shower in the Airstream.
The absolute BEST shower we’ve ever been in was at Henderson Beach State Park outside of Destin, Florida. Their bathrooms were so beautiful they had to be new. The showers had clean tile & grout, and each shower was very loooooong shower so that you can store your clothes at the opposite end and they don’t get soaking wet by the over spray. The handle to turn the shower on wasn’t located directly under the stream of water so that when you turn it on you get blasted by cold water before the hot water comes out. No drafty vents at the top of the shower to let in cold drafts. Heated. It was serious heaven. I’m surprised I ever left.
Helping my kids shower without getting myself soaking wet is also an art form. Our kids typically do pretty well, only Cara seems to have difficulty when the water pressure is so high she wants to run for cover. Sam will take Andrew with him, and the girls will come with me. Rachel is a great big sister and often helps scrub Cara while I just hand her shampoo from the dry side of the curtain. Do they love it? No. Do we make them shower everyday? Definitely not. I figure we are cleaner than if we were camping so it has to be good enough.
In our travels we’ve seen some average showers, and some “I’m really glad we have full-hookups at this place because I would never, ever set foot in there” showers. Luckily for us we’ve never been in a situation where showering for days on end was just not a possibility. For that, I am truly grateful.