Staying clean & hygienic on the road while traveling in a van is a constant challenge. It doesn't matter whether you have added plumbing to the inside of your van or not, water is always limited. And if it happens to be wintertime, non-existent, since antifreeze will have replaced the water in your lines. So what can you do to stay clean?
Well first and foremost, you can stay at a campground with showers, but doing that every night, is costly and defeats the idea of van living, where being off the grid boondocking is the ideal. Alternatively, you can just skip a shower, but after a few days, your significant other is bound to complain and rightfully so. In between these two extremes, there are options. Here are the ones that I have found helpful, whether camping on BLM land or stealth camping in a city.
1) No Rinse Bathing Wipes
Body wipes are a very good option, and after 17 years using many different brands, these No Rinse Bathing Wipes are some of our favorites. I know that many people use baby wipes, but we have found that they leave a sticky residue not to mention a smell that is only appropriate for, well ... a baby. Plus baby wipes are usually very small & thin, rendering them essentially useless. The No Rinse Bathing Wipes, are large, ( 8.8 x 4.8 x 1 inches), thick, & odorless, and cleanse without leaving any sticky residue. And for those with allergies, don't worry as they are hypoallergenic & latex free. Since they are resealable, you don't need to worry about them drying out. Each package comes with 8 wipes. You may find that you need more than one to do your entire body, but I find that just one does the trick on all of the important areas.
2) Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
While wipes are great for the body, they do nothing for the hair. Depending upon the general greasiness of your hair, and the length of time between actual showers, you may need a dry shampoo. I can definitely recommend this one, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo. I first heard about it while reading the Best of Beauty Choice Awards in 2015 in Allure Magazine. It also made the same magazine's Readers Choice Awards in 2016. Knowing that I would be needing a good dry shampoo while doing some extensive camping on my trip to Alaska, I purchased this from my local Ulta. It lives up to its hype. It absorbs the oil without leaving any white residue in your hair. All you do is spray it into different sections of your hair, wait thirty seconds, and then brush it through. And you can purchase a small travel size for short trips, or a larger one for extended travels.
3) Makeup-Removing Wipes
Perhaps when you are traveling you don't wear makeup, but as I have gotten older, I no longer look great or even semi-decent without any coverup. And though body wipes could possibly be used in a pinch to remove that makeup, I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, I always use special makeup removing wipes. For one thing, they are designed to remove even the most stubborn makeup, and secondly, they are cheaper than body wipes. I can recommend two different brands. Neutrogena's wipes are Allure Magazine's Best of Beauty Steals from 2017 and work great. And for older skin such as mine, use Olay's Regenerist Micro-Exfoliating Wet Cleansing Cloths. Both are premoistened and require no rinsing, allowing you to clean your face on the run without any water.
4) Micellar Water
My sister turned me on to this wonder. The cleansing micelles that are suspended in this water allow it clean your skin, without any soap, and no need to rinse. The feeling is that of just plain water. She found out about it through Allure Magazine's Best of Beauty from both 2016 & 2017. It is a wonderful way to remove makeup without the need to pack any wipes. Just pour this onto a cotton pad, and wipe off your makeup. Voila, clean skin.
5) Cotton Pads
What I like about these cotton pads, besides being lint free, is the nice recloseable plastic container. Give them a try with the Garnier Micellar Water.
6) Planet Fitness Membership
As an alternative to staying at campgrounds in order to get badly needed showers in between our "sponge baths", we have joined Planet Fitness. With over 1400 locations in the US, including a few in Alaska & Hawaii & three provinces of Canada, we can usually find a location somewhere nearby while on the road. We have found the facilities to be very clean in the locations that we have been to, and of course, the double benefit is that you can also workout. But in order to use Planet Fitness on the road, you need to join at the Black Card level, since the basic level only allows you access to the location where you joined. And although the Black Card level is double the basic membership, it does allow you to bring one guest every visit, which means that if you are part of a couple, you only need to purchase one membership for the both of you, unless you plan to go at separate times from one another. Another benefit of this membership that we have utilized is that since they are usually open 24 hours, you can stealth camp in their parking lot if need be. With their decal on our back window, any security patrolling the lot would assume that we are inside working out.
7) Sea to Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag
When utilizing a shower at Planet Fitness or a campground you are going to need something to transport your supplies between the van & facilities. Sea to Summit makes wonderful hanging toiletry bags in multiple sizes. With zip mesh pockets for your toothbrush, multiple pockets, and containers, you should be able to fit everything except your towel in one of these extremely well-made bags. I keep a couple different size carabiners in my bag to make sure that I can hang it no matter what size shower rod the shower curtain is on.
8) PackTowl Luxe Face or Bath Towel
When traveling you need to have a quick drying towel. However, most microfiber towels don't seem to have the absorbency needed to actually dry. This one, however, has ribbing, allowing it to do a way better job than most. And with a loop in one of the corners, you can easily hang it from a hook, no need to have a towel rack.
These soft silicone tubes, designed and manufactured in the USA allow the liquids to easily be squeezed out, unlike the typical cheap, hard plastic travel containers found at most department stores. They have large openings that make them easy to fill and clean, and the flip top lids have a no-drip valve that really works. And if you can't remember which color you have chosen for each of your products, you can easily identify the contents of these tubes by twisting the collar on them to the correct pre-printed words; shampoo, conditioner, soap, or sunscreen, or on the blank part of the collar write-in the product that you have chosen. And yes they are BPA free.
10) Antimicrobial Underwear.
Staying clean can be helped along by the type of clothing that you choose to wear. ExOfficio makes underwear with breathable mesh & an antimicrobial treatment designed to reduce odors. Putting these on after a shower will help you to stay fresh longer. My daughter Kaitlyn swears by them when she goes hiking, or climbing.
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