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Van Camping: What you want to know but were Afraid to Ask

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Depend®. The opinions and text are all mine.


This is sponsored content written by me in partnership with Depend®. All opinions are my own.

Van camping may be my new favorite way to travel. Judging by the questions I’m asked about my experiences, other people are curious about the concept as well. Well, let me take that back. They are mainly curious about two things:

  1. How do you go to the restroom when van camping?
  2. How do you have, ahem, have relations of a certain kind while van camping? Seriously, you should see the texts I get from my friends, they never fail to make my husband smirk.

While I’m not going to address the latter, I’m happy to share a few things I’ve learned about the potty issue.

You can learn more about van camping in our comprehensive guide, Van Camping 101.  

Restrooms at the campground

How does one “GO” when van camping?

First of all, “going” is no big deal when we’re at a campground. It’s not a big deal when you’re at a rest stop either- but for some reason, I find it a bit unsettling to run into the bathroom in the middle of the night in an empty rest stop. I also detest making a trip into Walmart when we’re camped in their parking lot for the night.

Portapots at the campground

Now, what I’m about to share may seem a bit uncouth, but when you have to go, you have to go.

My husband has declared and demonstrated his innate talent to urinate in a 20-ounce soft drink bottle or cup. Since I’m not geared with the same equipment, it’s a little bit more difficult for me. Who am I kidding? It’s A LOT more difficult. I searched for several solutions to address my needs.

One option was to construct a portable toilet using a five gallon bucket, trash bags and kitty litter. It may surprise you, but manufacturers actually make a toilet seat that will fit on the bucket. This may be ideal in some vehicles, like a conversion van or 15-passenger van, but our minivan simply does not have enough room. Operation Portable Toilet Construction Aborted.

That leaves a few other options.

Van camping bathroom products

  1. GoGirl

According to the packaging, “GoGirl allows women the convenience of standing to urinate. It’s clean, portable, discreet and reusable.”

The GoGirl comes tightly packed in a small resealable tube and contains one GoGirl device, tissue and a storage baggie. The packaging is discreet and allows you to slip it in your pocket to take along whenever you’re on-the-go and need to go.

  1. Travel Urinal

The travel urinal touts itself as a convenient option when you don’t want to sit on an unsanitary public toilet or when one isn’t available. According to the instructions I received with the urinal, it can be used standing up, sitting down or even in a lying position without undressing. Confused about where to hold it against your body? They’ve been kind enough to provide a drawing to take the mystery out of using it. Hmmm…I imagine it’s not quite as effortless as the instructions make it out to be. Can it really be as easy as just holding the urinal against your body and going?

  1. Family Portable Toilet

This isn’t nearly as fancy as it sounds and of the products I’ve listed thus far, this one is the most promising. Not only is it unisex, it is expandable to hold a lot of urine (up to 750 cc) and has a lid that snaps into place to avoid spills.

If these three options sounds less than appealing, I have one more for you to consider.

4. Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® Briefs for those moments you're not sure you'll make it to the restroom while van camping.

  1. Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® Briefs

While the other three options offer a convenient way to “go”, this fourth option is for those of us who need a little more protection from time to time. I admit, after having three babies, I’m not able to hold it as well as I once could. A few years ago, I ran out of gas on a busy highway and thought I was going to pee my pants before AAA arrived to bring me some gas to get me back on my way.

I worry about that when we’re van camping as well. What if I wake up and have an immediate need to go and don’t make it to the restroom in time? What if the restroom is a half of a mile away through a forest thick with trees and undergrowth and teeming with mountain goats or bears? What if I have allergies or a cold and have a severe coughing fit? The last thing I want to experience is embarrassing and annoying leakage when van camping with my husband. But worse than that, I don’t want to get eaten by a bear on my way to the restroom either!

Like me, 1 in 4 Americans experience bladder leakage and need a product they can depend on to provide discreet protection from leaks. Depend® FIT-FLEX® underwear and Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® Briefs are products I can trust for my needs.

The new, improved Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® Briefs were designed to offer the same trusted protection they always have but now feature premium, breathable, cotton-like fabric with a signature feminine style that fits smoothly under clothes. Now they are also available in a variety of colors: beige, black, and lavender, so you can stay comfortably protected and stylishly coordinate them with your outfit.

Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear has the fastest leak-absorbing material inside for dry, comfortable protection and features all-around leg elastics and a smooth, close-to-body fit. Soft, quiet and better fit means better protection and comfort while you confidently rock any activity you dream of- even van camping. Or road tripping. Or taking a long flight. And yes, even getting stuck in traffic during Thanksgiving and holiday travel.

For more information about incontinence, Depend® products and for product coupons, please visit this link and follow Depend® on,, and

If you haven’t tried Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® briefs and Depend® FIT-FLEX® underwear yet, now’s your chance! Now through the end of the year, or while supplies last, you can get $2 off at here. Not only are these great fitting and comfortable, but they look and feel like real underwear while giving you the protection you need. Plus, there are now two extra products in each pack! Try them for yourself and let me know what you think.

You have questions about van campin- I have answers. I share a few products that can help your van camping experience be a bit more pleasant.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Geoff Fish

Thursday 8th of August 2019

We tried the bucket, bag and kitty litter route. It works well and is clean as long as your aim is good.

Tonya Prater

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Haha! Yes, I agree, aim would make a difference to whether you have a good experience or poor one with the bucket. My husband and I used the bucket on our last van camping trip and it was a game changer! I loved it.

Anna Andsten

Thursday 1st of November 2018

Hi! I love camping, but I have always disliked the toilet part of it... Men have it so much easier! I have been dreaming of my own portable bathroom. Maybe for the next season I will invest in one! I am curious to try out some of your other tips. As long as I don't have to use a dirty public restroom, I am fine! Thank you for this interesting post!

Tonya Prater

Thursday 29th of November 2018

Yeah, I'm not a fan of dirty public bathrooms either. My husband and I will be embarking on another van camping trip in January or February and plan to make a bucket toilet with kitty litter and trash bags for nighttime emergencies when I don't want to run into a Walmart or rest stop in the middle of the night to pee. ;) Protection Status
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