So we’ve been on this adventure for a while now, and we’ve learned several interesting things about camp bathrooms. Honestly I hadn’t given this much thought before we got started. We have a shower in our camper and most campgrounds have bathrooms. What was there to consider? Oh naive, little grasshopper. I had so much to learn.
Surprise #1 Not all campgrounds have bathrooms.
You read that right. We spend most of our time at Thousand Trails campgrounds, military bases, or State Parks, but every now and then we need a middle, one night stop (or several one night stops) along the way. When looking for one of these, I try to find pull-thru spaces with full hookups. This type of campground is fairly easy to find and seems designed for travellers just passing through. However because they are full hookup a surprising number of them don’t offer bath houses. They assume that you’re actually going to use the bathroom and shower on your rig.
Surprise#2 Our camper bathroom is pretty much for decorative purposes only.
Le sigh. You read that right too. We despise our plastic potty. Sure it was fine for weekend trips but day after day after day… I miss my porcelain throne. The teenage boy is constantly dashing off to the camp bathrooms because his knees hit the bathtub when he sits and the target is so low when he stands. Being a full grown adult I understand the claustrophobia. And don’t even get me started about the shower. Do you know those infant tubs that sit in the kitchen sink? Yep. Our rig designer seems enamored of the things and used that as their size template for the bathtub. The walls are wallpapered of all things, the shower head is useless, and the fan removes zero steam. Could all of these issues be remedied with a bigger camper? God, I hope so, but in the meantime it means we rely on the availability of camp bathrooms. The rig shower does, however, work quite well for hanging towels and holding our dirty laundry basket so I’m claiming that as a half win.
Surprise #3 Shower Heads
I’m not sure why this one was such a surprise. Have you walked through your home improvement store lately? There are a million shower heads to choose from! I guess my surprise here was more at the archaic nature of the shower heads we’ve come across. There’s the standard circle spray. There’s the wild spray that originated as a circle but for some inexplicable reason sprays in ever direction except where your body can reach. The single super jet can definitely reach your body but it feels a bit like a single finger deep tissue massage.
The mid-body shower head is closely related to the floppy handicap rail shower head. Neither reaches much higher than your waist though the floppy rail head is more interested in showering the wall than your tummy. My favorite is the push button shower. Did y’all know these exist? They’re a bit like the sink faucets that you push down and they give a measured amount of water before turning off. This sounds like a great water conservation idea until you realize that it takes two pushes to rinse your face. Don’t even think about thick hair.
Surprise #4 Not all pressure and temperature regulators are equal.
Speaking of thick hair…four out of five of us have it. LONG, THICK HAIR. Not all camp showers have been up to the job of rinsing it out. The kicker to long rinse times is that you often run out of hot water before you’re done. Especially when you’re trying to wash one momma and three girls at the same time. Bring books. Naked reading while waiting for the hot water to refill has become one of our favorite pastimes.
Surprise #5 The lights go out in more than just Georgia.
Another big surprise with push button regulators, timed dials, and motion sensors are the bathroom lights. Ironically these bathrooms tend to have endless hot water, lulling you into longer showers. Beautiful, relaxing, soul cleansing showers. Until the lights snap off with no warning. Do you know what a windowless bathroom looks like with the lights out?
Pro tip: Bring a friend and a flashlight. Negotiate ahead of time who is making the naked dash through the dark to turn the lights back on. Then pray no one decides to open the bathroom door while you’re standing there dripping and fumbling for the switch.
Surprise #6 There be nudists, Captain!
You would think that flipping the lights on would be an isolated nudist event, but no. Not all shower stalls come equipped with hooks or benches so keeping your clothes dry often involves a naked pilgrimage across the main bathroom. There’s also shower curtains that don’t close all the way and stall doors that are missing completely. It’s a veritable peepshow if you sample enough showers. If you weren’t comfortable with nonsexual nudity before…full-time camping will cure that.
Surprise #7 Shower Companions
Your fellow campers accidentally catching a flash of skin aren’t the only shows you have to worry about. Lizards, spiders, beetles, frogs, and even the occasional bird will blatantly crawl down beside you and join you for a steam. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that Roman baths are no longer in vogue. I wish I had a pro tip for this one but unfortunately I am still prone to random shrieks when I turn around to a new companion. This guy was lounging outside the bathroom but I’m willing to bet he would sneak in given half a chance.
Surprise #8 The many stalls of Wonderland
Considering the variety of shower buddies you might come across, stall size suddenly becomes a big deal. And you guessed it. Shower stalls range in size from belly-rubbing when you turn around to big enough to host an orgy.
Surprise #9 This bus makes frequent stops.
I’m also less than pleasantly surprised by how often bathhouses get closed for repairs or how long they are in need of repair without receiving any attention. It makes my fingers itch to grab a wrench or some plumber’s tape and fix the smaller problems on my own. Maybe that’s what the campgrounds are counting on?
Surprise #10 The Search for the Holy Grail
After everything we’ve learned you would think that we would give up on camp bathrooms entirely, but fear not! Holy Grails do exist! Quite a few state parks in Texas, private campgrounds, and military bases pride themselves not only on the cleanliness of their bathrooms but also on the luxury. We found one campground in Florida with six by six foot stalls, endless hot water, multiple shower heads (including a rain shower from the ceiling!), and water pressure that will make you weep with joy.
Pro Tip: Keep a record of campgrounds. Take note of bathroom condition as well as site condition, wifi, cell service, and local amenities.
So here is what we’ve taken to heart when it comes to showers. Sometimes a shower is just a shower; something we do because we need to. Sometimes baby wipes and some dry shampoo are a happier answer than even thinking about getting naked and offering yourself as sacrifice to any and every spider, wasp, and psycho in the building. And sometimes…sometimes you find heaven. A bathroom so nice that the act of cleansing yourself almost becomes a religious experience. Enjoy those.