Camper Van With A Bathroom: The Good and The Bad

A Bathroom Is Usually A Difficult Luxury For Van Builds

If you dream of moving your life into a van, you’ll have to decide what to include and remove from the design. For example, bathrooms are not included in many camper vans. If you’re thinking of buying/making a camper van with a bathroom, there are some pros and cons you should consider.

Bathrooms are not always a good fit, but they can be very useful additions for those who want to have a toilet and/or shower at their disposal. Some cons include the size limitations of a van and the water restrictions. But if you’re someone with a strict hygiene routine or live in a van full-time, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks.

Below we’ve got a list of some of the top pros and cons of using a camper van with a bathroom. Depending on the size and layout of your RV, some of these may be more relevant than others. Make sure you account for the good and the bad before you move forward with this decision!

Pros of a Camper Van with a Bathroom

Make Fewer Rest Stops

One of the best parts of having a bathroom in your van is that it makes you more self-sufficient. You won’t have to rely on gas station bathrooms, camping toilets, or the great outdoors. Sometimes there just isn’t a good option during your travels, so it’s handy to have a bathroom you can retreat to at any point.

Plus, once you park for the night, you won’t have to choose a location that has bathrooms within striking distance. Your range of campsite options has just expanded, and you won’t have to leave your vehicle in the middle of the night.

Helps You Stay Clean on The Road

If you plan to take long trips or live in your van full-time, a bathroom is almost a necessity. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a simple toilet and shower make all the difference in the world. It’s possible to rely on gas station chains and gyms for some semi-regular showers, but it’s much more convenient to have a camper van with a bathroom.

Depending on where you travel and how long you stay, you can’t rely on there being a good shower nearby. Many campsites offer toilets, but not all of them have showers for guests to use. If you value a good hygiene routine and plan to spend a lot of time in a van, you’ll almost certainly need a bathroom.

More Complete Living Space

When most people commit to the van life, they live out of the vehicle for the majority of the year. If this is your plan, you need to think about the necessities. For instance, almost everyone needs a bed, kitchen, and storage space. Bathrooms might not be essential (depending on where you travel), but if you add one, you’ll be able to enjoy a more complete living space.

If you’d like to create a fairly self-sustaining setup, you should consider making/buying a camper van with a bathroom.

Consistent Standard of Quality

Finally, a bathroom that’s part of your van is something you can control. You can design what is and isn’t included and how often it gets cleaned. When you travel a lot, you have to accept that there are a lot of unknowns. If you use a ton of public toilets, you’ll find that there’s a wide range of cleanliness.

If you have a camper van with a bathroom, you can maintain it to your own standards. You know you can trust the space to perform as intended. It’s good to have a bathroom you can trust!

Cons of A Camper Van with A Bathroom

Limits Your Space

Of course, having a camper van with a bathroom isn’t always good. There are drawbacks you need to accept if you choose to incorporate a toilet and/or shower into your floor plan. One major flaw is the amount of space they occupy.

When you live in a van, every inch of space is important. You need to have enough room for your necessary appliances, furniture, clothing, and miscellaneous storage items. If you design your own van layout, you’ll know that space is precious, and every part of the vehicle should serve a function.

If bathrooms are a necessity for you, you’ll have to accept the fact that they will take up space in your van. Maybe it’s not a lot, but it’s still room that could be devoted to more storage or personal comforts.

Drains Your Water

Another drawback of including a bathroom in your van is the amount of water they use. If you have a composting toilet, you can conserve a good deal of water, but traditional toilets will require water to flush. If you add a shower, this is a major drain on your water tanks.

Fresh water is precious when you’re in a van, especially if you’re far away from a trustworthy refill. Showers are certainly nice, but they use up a lot of water that could have been devoted to cooking, cleaning, or drinking. Hot showers are great, but they also mean that you need to find space for a water heater. Between the water tanks and heater, your space for utilities will be stretched thin.

A Camper Van with a Bathroom has a Potential for Odors and Gross Cleanup

If you have a camper van with a bathroom, you also need to accept the fact that you’ll have to deal with gross jobs on a regular basis. Composting toilets are wonderful options that conserve water and let you enjoy the benefits of a portable bathroom. However, they need to be regularly emptied and they can develop an unpleasant odor. Because your van is so small, the entire thing may begin to stink.

If you have a more traditional toilet, the smell might not be an issue. But in this case, you usually need to install a black water tank. This needs to be emptied and cleaned on a regular basis, which is nasty work. If you want the benefits of a bathroom, you need to accept the responsibility of keeping it clean and maintained.

Higher Risk of Mold, Bacteria, and Water Damage

Finally, bathrooms bring their own set of risks. If you choose to incorporate a bathroom into your van, you raise the risk of unsanitary conditions. The more moisture and human waste are in an enclosed space, the greater chance you have of growing mold and bacteria. These can make you sick and will cause the entire van to stink.

Showers can also be quite nice, but they introduce more water and humidity into your environment. This can warp walls, damage furniture, and create a good environment for mildew and mold. Water damage is no joke and bathrooms are an easy place for it to start.

In short, a camper van with a bathroom can be a great thing for travelers who need a sustainable living space. They’re very useful, but they come with a set of drawbacks that must be taken into consideration. There are ways to prevent/mitigate the cons of bathrooms, but it’s up to individual campers to decide whether or not the risk is worth the reward.

  • Emily Lawrence lives in Idaho with her husband Nathan. Despite the cold winters in this area, it's Emily's favorite season! She loves to spend time skiing, roadtripping, and just exploring the outdoors.

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1 thought on “Camper Van With A Bathroom: The Good and The Bad”

  1. I believe that you need to re-examine your comments about composting toilets and odors. We have had one in our Class B for the last year … and we’ve had one on our cruising sailboat for TEN YEARS. In both cases, the composting toilet has had significantly LESS odor than the conventional toilet that it replaced. And we never fill up the black water tank or have to unplug the toilet on the road 🙂

    Yes, it needs to be maintained properly. For us, that maintenance has always been simpler than that required for a conventional toilet. If that maintenance is is done, it’s a superior solution.

    Thanks!

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