“But, how do you shower?” That’s probably the top question that anyone living in a van is asked. When I began planning to convert and live in my van, everyone around me couldn’t quite comprehend just how I would stay showered. And, I get it, how do you manage to carry around enough water to stay fed, hydrated AND clean?
Van Shower: Do or Don’t
Well, the answer for this one is, shower. Please do. However, just because we all need to stay clean doesn’t mean that you need to always have a shower set up on board with you.
There are pros and cons to having a shower in a van with you at all times. Depending on who you are, what you need and how you plan to use your van, your answer will differ from another person contemplating the same thing.
Personally, I saw a shower as a bonus. Would it be nice to have a dedicated space to wash up? Of course. But, did I need one? Nope, not really. Instead, I am happy with making due as I travel and getting creative about the ways that I choose to clean up!
Camper Shower Ideas
So, if you’re contemplating how to incorporate a shower into your build or simply looking for some camper van shower inspiration, this one is for you. Check out these 7 great camper van shower ideas.
Unique Half-Wall Tiled Shower
Jake and Heather of @goandlivefree live in their self-converted 2008 Mega Roof Sprinter. They live and work full time from their van so they very quickly knew that having a dedicated shower (and washroom) space was a big priority.
Looking at Jake and Heather’s van, it’s easy to feel a little envious. Their shower is more luxurious than many apartments have. They even have a Nebia shower head which is designed to save water, being perfect for vanlife.
This shower is especially unique as it includes a half wall instead of a full wall. This is beneficial as it makes the area private while also creating the illusion of being larger than it is. Since you can simply tuck aside the shower curtain when not in use, it ends up feeling more open concept than a full wall would provide. You can also see that they have a toilet in the shower area as well.
You can find Jake and Heather on Instagram
In-Counter Modular Shower
Having a multi-functional shower is another thing that many vanlifers are now adding to their build. Jackie and Evan of @sailingdacia did an excellent job making a shower a priority while also hiding it in plain sight. It’s not often you see a 1977 Ford E-150 Econoline with a modernized interior and shower.
You can see, their shower is built into a cabinet. The countertop simply lifts off, and the front doors unfold, leaving a gorgeous space to wash up once you hook up a curtain to the ceiling. This is a great way to integrate a space to clean up into a build as it’s “out of sight, out of mind”. Another bonus to this design is all of the extra storage space you have within the shower when it’s not in use.
You can find Jackie and Evan on Instagram
Outdoor Propane Heated Shower
Next up is an option for all of those who don’t want just a permanent solution but still want to stay clean-ish. Ruben and Emma of @remyrelay have a great system that includes a portable shower curtain in the shape of a circle. However, I have also seen people use a pop-up shower tent or simply thread a shower curtain onto a hula-hoop.
To heat the water, they use a portable propane water heater that draws water from their 80-litre tank located underneath the van. They use biodegradable soap when washing up to ensure the land they are on is protected from harsh chemicals.
The beauty of this setup is the versatility it provides. Not only do you get an outdoor shower, with a view might I add. But, you also have hot water to rinse off gear when coming back from an adventure, or bathe your pet. The only downside to this is the possibility of needing a shower and being in too cold of a climate to make that work.
You can find Ruben and Emma on Instagram
Compact Shower In a Drawer
Brittany and Drew from @mrandmrsadventure have a unique shower design in their van that allows them to save space. Yet, still prioritizes having a dedicated shower area. They have built a specialized drawer underneath their bench that houses a utility sink which they use as a shower pan.
Using it is as simple as sliding out the drawer, attaching the curtain to the ceiling and flipping on the hot water heater. This design is great for anyone who doesn’t want to give up the precious square footage that can come with installing a dedicated shower space but still wants a little spot to wash up when needed. It is truly an ingenious way of working in what you want while also making the most of the area.
You can find Brittany and Drew on Instagram
Modern Full-Sized Luxury Shower
This next setup is what vanlife shower dreams are made of! Personally, if I were to have a dedicated shower space in any van, this would be it. Megan and Chris from @the.activ have done a jaw-dropping job at integrating a full-sized shower into their build while also making it feel like a modern apartment on wheels.
There is a pocket door that slides closed to guarantee a watertight seal. A portable toilet is kept inside, making it a full washroom.
When building, Megan and Chris took the time to get the washroom area right. From greywater drainage to the perfect curvature of the walls, their shower has been well planned and even more so executed. If you are someone who wants no compromise when washing up, this one is for you!
A Woodworkers Masterpiece
At first glance, this conversion seems similar to the rest. However, woodworker, Paja over at @paja_stanul_custom did a great job at adding unique build features into a space that would have otherwise been deemed as storage.
Once you flip up the bench seat, there is a large open space located underneath. The faucet head, curtain and anything else needed all tucks neatly inside of the bench leaving tons of room for other stuff to be stored when not in use.
This is a really great use of space in such small square footage. Having a bench is something that many vanlifers choose to have in their conversion, to begin with. Doubling that space as something that may be more useful than storage is a brilliant way to bring more practicality into your home on wheels.
The Lavish Bathtub in a Bus
I’ve often dreamed of being able to have a full-sized bath inside of my camper van. Imagine being able to pop in a bath bomb and sip your tea, all while looking at the mountains, in a new place every day. And, while I realize those hopes will probably never come to fruition, a girl can dream!
@doubledeckerhome has managed to make that dream of mine come true. While they may not be moving around as a camper van would, it is still an honourable mention.
They have managed to fit a full-sized tub into their double-decker home on wheels. Leaving many, including myself drooling over the idea of being able to take a nice soak once in a while. Something we can all aspire to.
You can find @doubledeckerhome on Instagram
The Portable Solar Shower For All
Lastly, we have an option that is an easy and accessible addition to any setup. The beloved solar shower. So, what is it? Simply put, it is a large black PVC plastic bag that gets filled with water and left in the sun. After a little while the water inside heats up, and you’re left with warm water to rinse off. They can be found almost anywhere and retail for about $10.
Sophie of @__advanture__ has a solar shower in her van to clean up after a long day. It’s small, cheap and is easy to tuck away in any van as a backup or the main setup. Personally, this is something I think every vanlifer should carry with them. The only downside to this one is the fact that it can’t be used in every climate.
You can find Sophie on Instagram
What Setup Is Best For You?
Well, that depends on what your priorities are. If you are currently building out your camper van or planning to, we have a helpful article on how to choose your must haves.
Once you know what you really want, the rest is up to logistics. Having a plan to store water on the road and whatever budget you’ve set will help determine what your shower will end up looking like.
These 7 showers are great pinpoints to start at. There are thousands of other camper van shower ideas out there. Mixed with your own creativity, it is amazing what you can come up with to stay washed up on the road.