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Living in the United States provides a lot of strange luxuries: free water in restaurants, huge portions of food everywhere you look… and bathrooms. Lots of free bathrooms. So when people ask van dwellers, “Where do you pee when living in your car?” the answer is pretty straightforward. Bathrooms are everywhere, and easy to find.
If you want to be a traveling vandweller or have a personal condition that requires you to use the bathroom often, you may want to invest in a composting toilet (http://amzn.to/2mbYQBf) (or build your own) and purchase deodorizers, compostable toilet paper, and whatever else it needs. However, if you spend most of your time in urban areas, this option would be a waste of money and valuable space.
If you choose not to install any plumbing in your vehicle, you can use one of these 10 places to pee below:
1. The gym
If you already have a membership, your gym usually has some of the nicest facilities. I’m a member at one of the 24-hour gyms, so I know I’ll always have at least one reliable place to do business.
2. At work
This one is a no-brainer if you have steady work (or even if you do odd jobs or part-time work). You’re going to see varied quality at the facilities you use, but it should definitely be a go-to place if you work in a nice building.
3. Tourist areas
Depending on your city and where you park, you may find yourself near nice tourist attractions with free, well-maintained bathrooms. You won’t attract much attention to yourself either–just avoid the other overpriced attractions these areas feature.
4. Grocery stores
You’ll probably already going to visit one anyway, so make use of the bathroom while you’re there. 24-hour stores are the best resource for bathrooms, but beware that they may be out of order in the middle of the night for cleaning.
5. Starbucks and McDonald’s
Classics. Try to be courteous and buy something, especially if the restrooms are labeled for customers only.
6. Public library
Most libraries maintain their bathrooms well, so use the facilities and take advantage of all the other great resources there.
7. Retail stores and malls
These are excellent places to find a nice bathroom without attracting much attention. Pull double duty and use the trip to pick up any supplies you need.
8. Gas stations
You’ll already need to use them anyway, so you don’t have to worry about looking strange when you ask for the restroom key. Not the cleanest, but certainly functional.
9. Rest areas
Rest areas are also great places to park and nap, so a toilet won’t be too far away when you zonk out.
This option is at the bottom of the list because the restrooms are often cold, sketchy, or not maintained well, but they’re still better than nothing if you can’t find another option. Don’t linger in the area, especially if you visit a park with a playground.
Viable (but not as good) restroom options
There are also some other doable options for your bathroom needs, although they are definitely less comfortable:
- Porta potties. In spite of the smell, you still get a roof over your head and some privacy with this option.
- Outside. Please dig a hole as a common courtesy (and a safety measure). If you’re a woman, consider using the very popular pStyle (http://amzn.to/2noAFzV) so you don’t have to squat or remove any clothing.
- Water bottles with screw-on lids, or screw-top mason jars if you’re waste-conscious. The screw top matters! You don’t want your business spilling everywhere.
Other receptacles to consider
Maybe it’s the middle of the night and you just can’t make it to the bathroom. Maybe it’s too cold to get out of your car. Maybe you’re on a long road trip and don’t want to pull over. Some of these products might help you in those situations:
- Portable urinals (http://amzn.to/2mRJJ3J): These handy little guys solidify your pee as a gel so you don’t have to worry about spills and leakage. Female reviewers have been able to use them successfully too!
- Medical bed urinals (http://amzn.to/2ma3XRE): Not the first thing you might think to use… but if you’re trying to avoid being detected in the middle of the night, this would allow you to do your business without getting up.
Regardless of the options you choose for places to pee, always have an emergency backup plan. Keep a roll of toilet paper in your car for these occasions too (even if you just visit a public restroom and make a little roll for yourself). You don’t want to be caught without a plan!