Showering in the RV (Or the Worst Experience of My Life)

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I remember apartment shopping with my roommates back in college. We chose the apartment complex with the large hot tub, pool, volleyball court, sauna, fitness center, two car garage, and an extra large jacuzzi bath tub. It was more like a three-story townhouse than an apartment and we lived there luxuriously.

showering in the rv

Moving from such a spacious home into an RV would be a huge adjustment. Instead of walking down a flight of stairs to get to the kitchen, I’d walk a maximum of three steps. But I was prepared to sacrifice space for adventure. I was even willing to give up valet trash service for living in an RV with barely enough space for a trash can.

It took weeks for me to pack up all of my belongings, deciding what would go into the RV, what would return back to parents house, and constantly checking my wedding registry trying to see what gifts I could expect on my wedding day so I could pack accordingly. One day, I sat in my large leather chair with my feet propped on the ottoman watching Netflix on my smart TV. I was watching an episode of Gossip Girl, when it hit me that I didn’t know when I would get to watch Netflix again. Do RV parks have Internet that can stream Netflix? I had no idea.

And even if I did have Internet connection to watch Netflix on my computer, where could I sit and prop up my feet? You can’t fit a comfy ottoman in an RV! I slouched deeper in my chair, texting my sister to see if she wanted my chair and my tv for her new apartment. Good bye belongings, I thought sadly.

At that point, I didn’t realize everything I would be giving up. I knew I couldn’t take all of my physical belongings with me, but I would lose more luxuries than those.

None of this compared to the missing luxury of a shower.

Do you have a shower in your home? Perhaps a shower and bathtub? Do you have a nightstand by your bed? Counter space in your kitchen? Does your place have room to entertain guests for dinner or perhaps just a place to sit down your purse?

These are the small, common luxuries I missed when I moved into the RV nearly one year ago.

I tried showering in the RV once. It was memorable, in the worst ways. When you have to be taught how to use a shower, you know things probably won’t go well. First, I turned on the hot water heater so our water could heat up. I waited a few minutes before hopping in and turning on the water, but I shrieked and quickly dove out of the steady stream of ice water onto our bed.

“It’s freezing,” I squealed to Heath, who couldn’t stop laughing for some unknown reason.

“Wait a few more minutes.”

I shivered waiting for the shower. This time I tested the water before hopping in, admittedly jumping in without testing the water first was a rookie mistake. The water had warmed up significantly and was scalding hot by the time it touched my skin. I hid in the corner of the shower, trying to save my body from the burning water and remember which 20-year-old, faded nozzle controlled the hot water. The A/C unit, located almost directly next to the shower, blew on full blast, freezing whatever exposed skin wasn’t under attack by the boiled water torturing me from the shower head.

I struggled to wash my hair in the small space. No wonder so many female RVers have boy-style haircuts. All of my hair could barely fit under the stream of water. I added and rinsed shampoo, failing to get all the bubbles out before Heath started complaining.

“You’re taking too long!” He whined.

“It’s been three minutes!”

“I need to shower too. You’re running us out of water!”

“I’m putting in conditioner!” Sheesh. “One more minute!”

I lathered my hair in conditioner, adding it to the remaining shampoo in my hair and did my best to rinse it all out. I felt the water slowly decrease in temperature and tried to hurry up. I hopped out just in time for the hot water to run out.

“Never, ever again,” I said to Heath as I shivered and turned off the freezing air conditioner. “That thing is the worst. That was the worst shower of my life. It’s too small!”

“I can fit in there just fine,” Heath countered.

“Are you calling me fat?” I’ve found that when I ask this question, Heath always rolls his eyes and laughs awkwardly because men don’t really know how to recover from that question and a potential argument dissipates. It’s really come in handy.

Since that experience, I never missed being able to shower in my own home. Walking across the RV Park to use their showers or showering at the gym would always be better than that awful experience.

I took showering for granted before moving into the RV. I’ve always had a shower. Everyone I’ve ever known has had a shower too. We expect a readily available shower. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask!

I don’t think I ever showered in the same place more than once on the road. I feel confident now that I can operate any shower I encounter in life—from a terrible 30-second push button shower in New Jersey to a rainfall shower head and side sprayers at a Planet Fitness in West Virginia.

Pre-RV, I pictured luxury as a shiny new car with a full gas tank, probably parked in front of a large house. I equated luxury with wealth. You needed to live like a king to live in luxury.

But after 200 days of calling RV parks asking if they have showers (and are they free or coin operated?), if they have WiFi, or if they just have a safe place for us to park at night, I redefined my view of luxury.

Luxury is WiFi that will load a page in less than a minute, and WiFi that streams video is millionaire level luxury.

Luxury is being able to brew coffee and microwave a muffin at the same time without tripping the circuit breaker.

Luxury is being able to shower a few times a week, even if you have to walk with your wet hair across an RV park lot.

Luxury is paying less than $4 in quarters for each load of laundry.

Luxury is having water in your tank to wash your dishes.

Luxury is having a pillow under your head, food to eat, and a place to call home—even if it’s on wheels.

RVing changed my lifestyle in a lot of ways. I traded in the luxury of a warm shower for taking my house to the ocean and falling asleep listening to the waves. I traded in the luxury of consistent Internet connection for the opportunity to connect with new friends across the country. Luxury is getting to shower at all.