Using the Bathroom in a Campervan - Native Campervans

Using the Bathroom in a Campervan

Bathroom campervan

Everyone poops! Let’s talk about it!

So you booked your campervan rental, your itinerary is set, and you are beyond excited to start your vanlife adventure. But you have one lingering question after reading what each van offers; how do you use the bathroom if the campervan doesn’t include one?  

First, let’s answer why Native Campervans include everything else but not toilets. Well, that answer is easy. It’s to make your experience better. 

Beyond giving you the best experience, we want to ensure a clean and comfortable trip. Waste is not sanitary at all and can be a pain to deal with. By removing the toilet you don’t have to worry about the clean-up, or worse, the smell. 

Vanlife toilets are pretty limited in the options. Most campervans usually have composting or foldable toilets where you have to dispose of the waste. Another more permanent option vanlifers use is a flushable toilet that holds the waste in a black water tank, which presents the hassle of finding a place to dump the black water tank properly. So no matter what option,  we both would have to handle waste, and that isn’t fun for anyone.  

Another reason we don’t include toilets is storing the vessel and said waste, which also presents the issue of cleanliness and smell when staying in such a small confined space. 

Now let’s answer your question, how do I use the bathroom? 

We have listed a handful of places that are usually free and likely to encounter on your road trip, as well as tips to help you when you can’t find a toilet. 


Campground With Facilities

Most campground facilities offer a handful of amenities, including bathrooms! When booking a campground, make sure to check amenities. Campgrounds are where you spend a lot of your evenings, nights, and early mornings on your trip, so having access to a bathroom is a huge plus. This makes going to the bathroom while using a campervan simple.


Rest Stops

During the driving component of your road trip, these will be your best friends. Rest stops are along major highways and are the easiest way to access a bathroom when driving for long stretches. 


Gas Stations and Coffee Shops

Coffee shops and gas stations are common on most roads, even in the middle of nowhere. You can drive for 30- 40 minutes and not pass a single car or home, but suddenly you enter a town with a gas station or a coffee shop. These places offer a quick fix to the somewhat urgent problems that can arise when you have to go. 

A huge bonus to this option is usually you can access these restrooms for free and if you want, get a snack!


Purchase Camp Bathroom

There are many tools and items that can be really helpful when camping and traveling without a guaranteed toilet. The first is a tool that creates a urinal for those who cannot urinate while standing. It makes going to the bathroom discrete, as long as you can turn your back on others. These urinals usually cost anywhere from $20-40. Second is a Lugable loo. It’s exactly how it sounds. This tool is a toilet that you can lug around with you. The third is a privacy structure that is foldable and easy to assemble. These shelters give people peace of mind in more crowded areas, whether that’s a dispersed camping site or a trailhead without a bathroom. These shelters are a bit more expensive, ranging from $40 – $100 depending on how compact you want them and where you buy them. Pick the bathroom that makes your campervan trip comfortable.


Leave no Trace Practices

When you find yourself in a pinch with no restroom to access, you might have to turn to the great outdoors as a last resort. But before you start on this journey, there are some essential tips and processes to note.  

Leave no trace means just that. When following the principles, you aren’t leaving anything that cannot be found in that environment, which sometimes means waste. It’s important to know what type of climate you are traveling in to prepare for any situation. For example, in higher elevations or some desert terrain, solid waste cannot decompose and needs to be packed out. So before venturing off in your campervan, check if there are any human waste regulations in the areas you plan to visit. 

Now that we understand the precautionary steps one needs to take in knowing the most appropriate way to go to the bathroom outside, a few more tips are necessary before the time comes. 

  1. Always go to the bathroom 200 feet away from a water source or trail. This keeps the environment and people clean and wastes out of the way. 
  2. In alpine areas (above the tree line), go #1 on rocks. Peeing on vegetation can attract animals to dig up fragile alpine growth.
  3. Bring a ziplock bag or container to carry out the paper waste if you use toilet paper.  
  4. When going #2, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide. You can buy a compact lightweight shovel, or a stick and rock will work too. Remember, pack it out if you decide to use toilet paper. You may also use leaves if you can verify they are not poisonous. After you go in the hole, take the original dirt and cover the waste. Finally, leave an x on the spot or a stick sticking up from it to let others know to avoid using the same site. 

We know using the bathroom while in a campervan can be stressful but we hope these tips eased your mind. If you want to read up on or watch more informational videos of how exactly going to the bathroom outside works, check out this article. And read here if you need some tips on how to shower on the road

Still have questions about comparing campervan and RV rental prices? Drop us a line and we’d be happy to help. If you’ve already chosen a campervan over an RV, explore our vans page for more advice on deciding which campervan to rent.

Have a safe and fun adventure in your van, and remember everyone poops!

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