How to Shower on the Road: Best Gyms With Showers

One of the most frequent questions new van lifers have is, “How do I shower?” Showering on the road can seem like a conundrum. Where do you do it? What if there isn’t space in your van? What if you can’t find somewhere to stop? What if it’s freezing outside, or you’re in the middle of a city?

You might think you need a van with a built-in shower to be comfortable on a road trip or living in your van, but you’d be surprised how few van lifers actually have shower facilities in their vehicles. It can take a little planning and some creative thinking, but it is absolutely possible to shower every day while on the road, even if you don’t have a shower in your van.

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Showering On the Road Doesn't Have to be a Pain

One of the first things you’ll realize about van life is how easy it is to let go of the conventions you were clinging to in your regular life. Turns out, you don’t actually need to shower every day while you’re on the road – especially if there’s a river, lake, ocean, or pool you can dip into during the day. And when you’re camping in national parks or state parks, shower facilities are usually available.

When you’re in urban areas, however, the best way to find a hot shower is often at a gym. Many gyms have private showers that members can use for free.

If you plan to spend a lot of time on the road or live in your van full time, a gym membership can be your ticket to guaranteeing access to shower facilities when you are in urban areas.

using facilities at gyms with showers

Best Gyms With Showers

Here is a list of the best gyms with showers that offer a cost-effective option for getting clean on the road.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is considered by many van lifers to be the gold standard for shower facilities. They have over 2000 gym locations nationwide, plus locations in Canada and several Central American countries. You can find them pretty easily even outside metropolitan areas, and in most cities across the country.

The facilities are not fancy but they are clean and well-maintained, with secure locker rooms, private showering facilities, hair dryers, etc. The membership also gives you access to their equipment and classes, in case you’re looking for a tough workout as well.

Membership starts at just $23.99/month, making it one of the cheapest options on the list. The slight drawback is that you can only go to a gym outside your local gym up to 10 times per month before you have to pay a $5 franchise fee for each visit. The upside is that with their Black membership, you can bring a guest for free on every visit, so you’re getting two showers for the price of one.

Even without the Black membership, it’s still one of the best deals on the list.

Gold's Gym

Gold’s Gym has significantly fewer locations than Planet Fitness, with just 222 locations in the United States and additional locations in Canada and Central America. Gold’s Gym also has locations in the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, and New Zealand, for travelers on international adventures.

Gold’s Gym facilities are on par with Planet Fitness: nothing fancy, but you’ll have everything you need. As with most gyms, you can bring your own towel or use one provided. They also provide body wash, etc., and use of the workout equipment.

Memberships at Gold’s Gym will vary depending on where you sign up. The average for a membership in the US is around $40 per month.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness has over 280 gym locations across 11 US states. They are less prevalent than Planet Fitness, but membership costs are about on a par with that club, so they can be a good option if you know you will be primarily traveling in one of the states they serve.

The best part of 24 Hour Fitness is, well, they’re open 24 hours! This is really convenient if you find yourself arriving in a city in the middle of the night and really want to shower before heading straight to bed. Memberships vary depending on state but generally start around $30/month if you sign up for a yearly plan.

shampoo bottles in gym shower

Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness gym locations are the most ubiquitous on the list, with over a thousand locations in the US and across the world. Their membership dues are very reasonable, making them an excellent choice for international travelers and road trip enthusiasts.

Anytime Fitness is open 24 hours a day, offering shower facilities, locker rooms, workout equipment, and more. Memberships depend on where you sign up, but work out to about $40/month in most US states.

Crunch Fitness

Crunch Fitness boasts over 365 locations nationwide and has some of the lowest fees of any of the gym memberships on this list. You can gain access to all their locations by buying a Peak Results membership, which runs between $21.99 and $26.99 depending on the state. This will also give you the option to bring a buddy for free for every visit to your local gym location.

Unlike Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness does not charge an additional franchising fee to visit gyms outside your home location, making them slightly cheaper. The downside is they don’t have quite as many locations, so finding one outside a major metropolitan area can be challenging.

gyms with showers

Other Options for Showering on the Road

If you don’t want to pay for a gym membership, there are plenty of other amenities that can be used to find private showers on the road.

Truck Stops

Truck stops offer showers to both truck drivers and non-truck drivers alike. They are readily available along most interstate highways, and many provide free towels, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc. They are a little pricier than gym showers – most truck stop showers will cost you between $12-15 per visit – but you can usually get one for free if you spend a certain amount on gas at an attached gas station.

Contrary to popular belief, most truck stop showers are safe – especially if you go to one that’s part of a branded chain.

Public Pools

Most public swimming pools offer a free shower to anyone using the facilities, and a visit to the pool can be a nice change of pace if you need a break from travel. Entry fees will vary depending on the location, but many pools have luxurious showers that are well worth the price.

Public Beaches

Some public beaches have outdoor showers available to the public. You’ll probably want to shower with your bathing suit on, but it’s a great way to rinse off with clean water after a long day at the beach!

Recreation Centers

Rec centers are another great option for cheap or even free showers. You can often get access to the shower room or other rec center facilities for around $5-10. Some rec centers offer weekly or monthly passes that can be more cost-effective than a gym, so if you know you will be in one place for a while, you can save money by opting for a rec center rather than one of the gyms on this list.

outdoor shower with robe hanging
outdoor campground shower


Most campgrounds offer showers to campers staying at the site. You will sometimes have to pay an additional fee to use the facilities on top of what you are paying to stay, and depending on the site, you may find cold showers, a run-down shower facility, or a lack of private showers. It can be beneficial to check the campsite’s website before arriving to determine what the shower rooms will be like.

Good ol' Solar Shower

For those people staying out of urban centers, a solar shower or other portable shower works surprisingly well (as long as you’re in a warm climate!) Just hang your solar shower bag outside for a few hours in the direct sunlight before rinsing off.

Alternative Ways to Stay Clean

Sometimes, push comes to shove, and you just don’t have access to a shower. Here are a few tips to keep you feeling fresh and fabulous when you’re not nearby facilities:

  • Keep a package of wipes on hand to freshen up as needed.
  • No-rinse body wash is a great option between showers.
  • Use dry shampoo if your hair starts feeling greasy.
  • Take a cold water dip in a creek or lake (never use regular soap, body wash, or shampoo in open water sources).
  • Use hand sanitizer if you’re limited on water for washing your hands.
  • Face cleansing wipes are gentle on your skin and can be used throughout the day.
showering in a public gym shower facility

Showering on the Road: It's Not as Hard as It Seems!

For road trip enthusiasts and people living in vans without built-in or portable showers, gyms with showers are a great resource. With private showers, access to workout equipment, a locker room, and towel service, a cheap gym membership is well worth the investment if you will be spending significant time on the road.



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