If you’re designing your own van conversion then deciding whether to build a camper van with bathroom or not is a huge decision. Moving from a house to a mobile home is a big deal, your space is suddenly much smaller, and you will probably have to compromise on your wish list. For some, a bathroom is essential, while for others, extra living space is more important. 

If you’re still in the deciding stage, today we’re going to look at some pros and cons of having a camper van with bathroom. We’re also going to look at some smart alternatives that could work for you. 

Featured Image @vandogtraveller / Vandog Traveller

Camper Van With Bathroom (PROS)

Camper van with bathroom - toilet and shower
© @vanlifeconversionsuk

Makes Your Van Feel Like Home

A bathroom is one of the things you take for granted when living in a house and it is one of the first things you miss if you don’t have one. Building a camper van with bathroom instantly makes it feel more homely. 

More Self-Sufficient

Having a toilet and shower in your campers means you are more autonomous. You can rely less on campsites and enjoy the wilderness more. 

Keeping Clean

Obviously, having a camper van with bathroom allows you to keep clean. This is especially important if you are working while living in your van as you do not have to spend time driving elsewhere for your shower. 

Stay Off The Grid For Longer

If you have a camper van with bathroom, you can stay off-grid for longer as you have everything you need with you. Being self-sufficient is a great feeling and gives you more travel freedom when living the van life.  

Camper Van With Bathroom (CONS)

Inside a bathroom
© @busroute2nowhere

Takes Up A Lot Of Space

A camper van with bathroom can feel cramped and even smaller than it is. There is no way to escape the fact that having a full bathroom in your camper van takes up a lot of space. 

Unused Most Of The Time

On top of taking up a lot of space, you don’t use a bathroom very often. When not in use, this whole room is wasted space, and space is a commodity in a camper. 

Need To Carry Large Amounts Of Water

A shower in a camper van only lasts as long as your water supply so you will need to have a large water tank to make your bathroom effective. A larger water tank adds weight to your van and may be challenging to install for many DIY-ers. 

Need A Water Heater

A camper van with bathroom requires a water heater. If you just have a sink in your camper, you might be able to get away with not installing a heater and just boiling water when you need it. Heaters can be expensive and tricky to install. 

Tricky To Build

If you’re planning on completing your conversion yourself, then installing a bathroom will be one of the most difficult parts of your build. The area needs to be fully waterproof to ensure no leaks into your living area. You will also need to think about ventilation to ensure the shower doesn’t cause a build-up of moisture leading to damp and mould. 

Making a Choice: How Do I Pick?

Camper van with bathroom- bathtub in van
© @patthevan

If you still can’t decide on whether or not to have a bathroom, then these are a few points you might find useful to consider. 

How long will you stay in your camper?

If you plan on just using your camper van for weekend getaways and short trips, then it is unlikely that you will need a full bathroom in your van. You know you can return home to a shower at the end of your trip before you return to work etc. 

Where will you stay in your camper?

If you plan on using campgrounds when you go out in your van, then it’s worth bearing in mind that they have bathroom facilities available. Almost all have toilets, and most have showers either on site or nearby. It seems pointless to build a camper van with bathroom if you can use an external shower most of the time. 

Will you be living full time in your camper?

If you plan on moving into your camper van full time, then it is more likely that you will want a shower. Although you can use showers at campgrounds, beaches and gyms, it’s nice to have your own bathroom that you can use whenever you like. For full-time living, at least a toilet is a must. 

How big is your camper van?

The size of your van is worth considering when deciding whether or not to install a bathroom. If you have an extra-long sprinter or something bigger, then you may be able to squeeze a bathroom in without compromising on other areas of your build. If you have something smaller, then adding a bathroom might be trickier. 

What else do you want in your camper?

Adding a bathroom might mean you have to compromise on the rest of your van’s layout. Think about what you will be missing if you use the space for a bathroom and decide if it’s worth it or not. 

Camper Van Bathroom Examples

1. At The Front

Interior of van with shower

Building the bathroom at the front of your camper is the most popular design. It is out of the way and still gives you plenty of space to play with for the rest of your layout.

This is an excellent example from @eyesopen_vanlife_workshop as the curved shower pan reduces the amount of floor space the bathroom takes up.

2. Next To The Bed

Camper van with bathroom - next to the bed

If you’re travelling solo, then this design from @i.built.a.glampervan could work for you. By just having a single bed, there is easily space to build a bathroom.

This design means the bathroom doesn’t dominate the campervan, giving you enough space for all the other essentials.

3. At The Back

Bathroom at the back of van

Building a bathroom-come-boot-room at the back of your camper means you can completely shut it off from the rest of your living space.

This camper van with bathroom design means you can wash off before you enter your clean van. This brilliant conversion by @overlandpiratevan is a great solution for any outdoorsy vanlifer. 

Alternative Options 

If you think that a camper van with bathroom isn’t for you, then there are some alternative options. Clever solutions can enable you to have a shower and a toilet without having a separate room. 

External Shower

Camper van with bathroom - outdoor shower
© @traveling.carpenter

Incorporating an external shower into your van conversion is one of the best ways to get around installing a bathroom. External showers can still be hooked up to your camper’s water supply and water heater but are just mounted outside when you want to use it. 

An outdoor shower is a fantastic solution as it means you can have a reliable, hot shower without having a bathroom. You can also use it to wash off your gear. On the downside, everyone can see you showering so you might want to be somewhere private!

Solar Shower Bags

Solar shower bag
© @walker_the_westy

If you decide not to go for a permanent outdoor shower, you could choose a solar shower bag. To use a solar shower bag, you fill it with water, leave it in the sun to warm up and then hang it above you for a quick wash.

Solar shower bags are a cheap shower solution, but it’s not a luxury experience. If you’re not somewhere really hot, the water will take a long time to heat in the sun, and you have a limited amount of water to wash with. However, it does the job and leaves you feeling clean! 

Toilet Under Seat

Toilet under seat
© @mytourig

Many people who choose not to create a camper van with bathroom still want a toilet on board. This is sensible as it allows you to be self-sufficient for your basic needs. The most popular place to store a camping toilet, if you don’t have a full bathroom, is under a seat. 

Building a seat around your toilet means it is hidden when not in use, and it doesn’t take up more space than it needs to. As most vans will have a seating area, you don’t need to change the design of your camper to add a toilet. However, it doesn’t allow for much privacy while on the road, so you will need to get comfortable with your travelling partner!

Removable Indoor Shower 

Removable indoor shower
© @adventuresinacamper

Building a removable indoor shower is a cleaver way to have a private bathroom without creating a permanent space for it. With some intelligent design, you can make a shower that pops up inside when you want to use it, and stores away when you’re done. 

This is a fantastic idea that gives you the best of both worlds, a camper van with bathroom and one without when you don’t want it! On the downside, you would need to dry everything off before putting it away and ensure your van is well ventilated. 

Final Thoughts… 

Choosing whether to go for a bathroom in your camper van is an individual decision. I have lived in my camper for almost three years with a toilet, but no shower. This has worked well for me, and I wouldn’t want to use up any space in our conversion for a separate room. However, I can see the appeal of having a bathroom in your tiny home as I do miss the convenience of jumping in the shower. 

Would you put a bathroom in your camper van? Let us know by joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

More Content From The

Van Clan Team 

– Building your bathroom and not sure what toilet to go for? Check out our article on the best campervan toilets for eleven different options.

– Or, if you’ve decided that a camper van with bathroom isn’t for you, take a look at the best portable showers that you can use outside.