Van camping is my new favorite way to travel and one topic I’m often asked about is campervan toilet solutions. Let’s discuss some options for when you gotta go.
I’ve written a lot recently about van camping tips and hacks. Judging by the questions I’m asked about my experiences, a lot of other people are curious about traveling in a campervan as well. There are two questions I get quite often:
- How do you go to the restroom when van camping?
- How do you, 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 going to the bathroom while van camping.
Do you really need a toilet in a campervan?
First of all, going to the bathroom is no big deal during the day, whether you are at a campground, a rest stop, or a Walmart. But I do find it a bit unsettling to make my way to the campground restrooms or run into an empty rest stop in the middle of the night. I also detest making a wee-hours trek into Walmart when we’re camped in their parking lot for the night.
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 campervan toilet solutions to address my needs.
What is the best portable toilet for a campervan?
You can purchase a portable toilet for your campervan. There are many variations and while we haven’t ruled them out, we found another option to be better suited for us.
Enter the bucket potty. Best. Thing. Ever.
I can’t tell you how much it improved our experience to have a portable toilet for van camping!
You can purchase an entire bucket/potty unit like the Luggable Loo or you can piece together your own. Since we already had a five-gallon bucket, we simply purchased a seat that fit on the bucket for a more comfortable seating experience. We used small, kitchen-size trash bags with a couple of scoops of non-clumping cat litter for the liner.
You can use your bucket toilet for whatever you like, but we agreed early on that our bucket is not for #2 unless it was an extreme, dire emergency.
Disposal of our bags was easy. The kitty litter absorbed all the liquid. We simply tied up the bag and disposed of it with our trash.
You can learn more about van camping in our comprehensive guide, Van Camping 101.
Smaller Campervan Toilet Solutions
If you are camping in a minivan and you don’t have a lot of space, or if you just don’t want to use a bucket or portable toilet for van camping, there are a few other options.
The option I’m about to mention may not be for everyone, but I’m throwing it out there because I know there are quite a few van campers who regularly want to get away from it all for some dispersed camping. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that term, think of this a camping on public lands that have not been developed as campgrounds. This means, you’re unlikely to have a bathroom nearby and if you aren’t self-contained, a folding shovel can come in handy so you can dig a hole and go. If you’re concerned about being seen, you can use a popup tent for cover.
These handy TP Kits have everything you need for easy clean-up and are even handy to throw in your wallet or purse when traveling in general.
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.
GoGirl is available in two colors: GoGirl pink/lavendar or GoGirl khaki.
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?
While the other options offer a convenient way to “go”, this 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.
I worry about that when we’re van camping. 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!
Having a “safety backup” is sometimes the way to go.
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 and keeps you comfortably protected.
When using public restrooms and travel in general, I’ve found the Restroom Kit to be handy to keep on hand. Especially with the last year of travel and shortages. You never know how clean or well-stocked a campground or public restroom will be.
As you can see, going to the bathroom in a campervan is not as big a problem as you might think. There are lots of campervan toilet solutions you can try out and find what works for you.
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.
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.
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!
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. ;)