Ah, the one question everyone is most curious about... "but where do you poop?!?!" This isn't a very difficult question to answer, and you probably know most of the answer already, but... Buckle up, friends. We're about to tell it all. Ok, gross, not ALL. But we are going to answer this question as best we can. This isn't the most engaging post we've made but its probably the most important.
1. Gas Station/Restaurant/Rest Stop/Grocery Store
Picture yourself on a roadtrip. We've all taken a roadtrip, whether it was a short or a long drive, right? When you're on a trip (driving) somewhere and nature calls, how do you answer? More than likely, you stop at a gas station or a restaurant. I would guess these two are where most people stop to tinkle while on a trip. Its not any different for us, SURPRISE! If we are driving for long stretches and feel the urge to do our business, we usually wait until our next stop for gas or just a break to stretch our legs. You're already stopping to fuel up, or grab a snack/meal... This also applies to when were just in town. Theres a ton of public restrooms all over every city. Theres also the side of the road if theres no services for a long stretch. But if you're going no. 2, PLEASE learn how to properly do so and don't leave your TP all over the side of the road.
2. Our Composting Toilet in the Van
Last year, in our first van, we had a "toilet." It was really just a fancy bucket with a trash bag and some kitty litter. We used it for when we couldn't find a public restaurant. Was it fun? Hell no. Did it work? Yes. Towards the end it got really difficult though. For those that didn't know, Giddi was pregnant the entire time we were traveling last year. Towards the end of our trip, she was using the bathroom a million times a day and kitty litter and/or wood pellets just weren't doing it for us anymore.
So with this van, we learned our lesson and went all out. We purchased a Nature's Head Composting Toilet. If you don't know anything about these, do some research (and we will make an entire post about just this toilet in the future if enough people are interested). It is worth every single dollar we spent on it. Its super easy to maintain, no mess, no smell, no black tank or dumping at rv dump stations, no special TP or chemicals, etc. Just a small amount of coco coir will last nearly two months before you need to dump it and start over. For the liquids, we empty every 3-4 days.
Since adding this toilet, we actually use it almost exclusively. Even when public restrooms, gas stations, restaurants, etc are available we will often times wait to get back to the van to use our toilet because it really is that great. We love it and will never go back!
3. Established Campgrounds
We don't generally stay in campgrounds, but anytime we have in the past, there are always toilets. This may not be the cleanest toilet or your favorite choice, but usually they have them and they get the job done just fine. Well really, they allow YOU to get the job done... just saying...
4. Primitive Camping (Digging a hole)
Ok, I can write an entire book (its legitimately on my to-do list) about how to sh*t in the woods. Its a topic that really makes me mad because it seems everywhere beautiful we camp, hike to, stop at, etc is covered in human excrement and dirty toilet paper littered all over the ground. I'm even talking about places where THEY HAVE TOILETS. First off, if there is a toilet available, use it! (not sure why thats not obvious). If you're in the backcountry or even just primitive camping and don't have access to a toilet of some kind, educate yourself on how to properly do your business in the woods. Im not joking, I will be writing a free ebook on this topic. When its available I will update this post and hope everyone reads it. We have camped in multiple places where our dog, Lotus, has found your crap and decided to roll in it proudly. We've camped with friends whose dog decided to take it even a step further (ya, gross right?). I have stepped in it. It's disgusting.
Short lesson on how to do your doo-doo out there:
The 7 D's of Defecation
- Desire - Should be kind of obvious, but know when you need to go. As soon as you think its time, start preparing and move on to step two. Don't wait till its go time. Thats too late, because theres a little work to be done first.
- Distance - Get as far away from camp, water sources, other people, popular areas, etc. A pretty good way to know you've gone far enough is to pick up a small rock and throw it as far as you possibly can. Get to the spot it landed, pick up another rock and again, throw it as far as you can. Once you've done this, go even a little further and thats probably a good spot to get started. (this is especially important when near water...get FAR away).
- Dig - I'm not talking about flipping over a rock and calling it good. DIG a hole. It needs to be AT LEAST as deep as your fingers to your wrist (6+ inches AT LEAST). It helps to have a shovel on hand in your van, car, whatever. If you don't have a shovel, a stick can be used and even a good rock. But DIG a good hole. Make me proud :)
- Do - I don't need to write much about this one. You should know. But if you've never gone outside before I will say that pants off is probably best. If you're fairly experienced, pants at the ankles is fine just make sure you're over the hole you just dug and your squat would be a 10 if being judged in the olympics.
- Deal - Do the paperwork, finish the deal, deal with it - you get it. Wipe. If using toilet paper, PACK IT OUT. Do not leave it in the hole, or near the whole. Have a ziplock and take it out to dispose of properly. Burning it is meh, do it if you have to, but preferably hike it out. *Word to the wise - if you don't have TP, a few smooth rocks, "leaves" from a juniper tree, mullen leaves, sticks, etc can all work as toilet paper. Personal choice when not packing Charmin Ultra Soft is really green juniper leaves (one direction only) and some smooth rocks).
- Disguise - Cover that sh*t up man! You can use all the dirt you unearthed digging your 6-8 inch hole to refill in the deposit you've just made. Maybe even finish it off with a large rock (after covering it completely with dirt) as an extra step to ensure dogs don't dig it up.
- Disinfect - This should also be obvious. But do it. You don't wanna spread whats called "poo flu" to other people nearby you camping. das gross!
Carry a shovel like this one, because you never know when you'll need it.
5. Friends and Family
What better way to say hello to old friends and family then stopping in to use their bathroom? You can probably snag a shower and get a load of laundry done too! But really if you're visiting someone and need to go, use their bathroom. You probably do it already anyway. And if you don't, you're weird.
Going to the bathroom while living in a van isn't that different than when you're out and about everyday, or on a roadtrip. There's plenty of places available, because think about it, EVERYONE GOES.
Curious about How and Where We Shower? Check out our post all about it HERE.
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