How to Take a Shower at a Truck Stop


It seems like fairly often, the only thing we want out of an RV park is a good shower.  I imagine this happens to a lot of you as well.  Especially now, as large lithium powered rigs are becoming more common, even a night of plugging in to shore power is more and more optional.  And yes, we can shower in our vans (and we do).  But we all know it’s not quite the same and it taps into our very limited water supply.

So most days, our only reason to spend money at RV parks is a good, long, hot shower.  But there is another solution…

Behold!! The Truck Stop!!

If you’ve ever listened to the announcements at a Flying J or Love’s, you’ve probably heard “Shower customer blah-blah-blah, your shower is ready.”  I heard it this past week in Wyoming, and it occurred to me… the only thing keeping me from using the truck stop showers is that I just don’t know how it works!  And I’m not alone.  Nobody is born with this knowledge.  It’s not written down anywhere I could find.  And they certainly don’t post the instructions on the showers themselves.  I imagine knowledge of this process is passed down from master to acolyte in some Old-World truck driving apprenticeship.

But back at the Pilot Flying J in Rawlins, Wyoming, I needed a shower, so I decided to figure it out.  Boy am I glad I did!  The shower there was fifty billion times better than 99% of all the campground showers I’ve ever been to.  No joke.  Since then I’ve taken another truck stop shower, a Love’s Travel Stop this time, and the procedure was pretty much the same.  So, if the only thing holding you back from a truck stop shower is the intimidation factor of not knowing how it all works, read on!

The back counter at Love’s in Fargo, ND.

It’s really pretty straight forward – and this has worked similarly at both Pilot Flying J and Love’s Travel Stop.  You just go to the counter and tell the clerk you’d like to purchase a shower.  At the Pilot Flying J, this was the same counter where you would pay for gas.  At the Love’s Travel Stop, this was at a separate counter in back which is typically for professional drivers (but they don’t bite).  At both locations, the shower cost $12.  That’s pretty steep for a shower, but it’s also considerably less than most campgrounds with way more disgusting showers.  Both Pilot Flying J and Love’s have rewards programs with a shower component.  If you have one of their loyalty cards, you’ll get shower credits for fuel purchases.  (Their loyalty programs are geared toward professional drivers, obviously.)  At Pilot Flying J, this discount only seemed to apply to diesel purchases, but I need to investigate this more.  I’ll report back in the comments.

Your golden ticket to shower awesomeness.

Once you’ve purchased the shower, they will give you a receipt with some codes on it.  This is the code that will open the door for your shower.  You can see that my shower customer number, 109, is on the ticket.  Hang on to this ticket.  You’ll need it.

Now, depending on how busy they are, you may have to wait.  There’s a reason for this wait, which we’ll get to later.  Most locations provide a driver’s lounge for waiting  – but again, these are geared towards OTR truckers.  One of the ones I used had lots of video gambling devices, and a TV playing “Tombstone”.  The amenities in these lounges vary, but if you don’t want to wait there, you can wander about the store, or go just about anywhere you will be able to hear the announcement.

2 folks waiting, and I’m next.

There are also video monitors about that show where you are in the queue.  You can use these to gauge your time left.  In this one, you can see that there are two customers waiting, and my shower number has not been assigned yet.

When your number is called, they will also announce your shower stall number.  Your stall number will also be displayed on the monitor.  At this point, you just gather your things and head to the appropriate stall.

I always knew I was number 1.

Enter your code and walk on in.  This is the point where you’ll see why there’s a wait between showers.

SCORE!!

At both locations I’ve tried this at, the shower rooms were immaculate, and had obviously been cleaned *and dried* since the last person had used it.  There was a toilet, sink, and shower stall.  And the best part of all was fresh towels.  (And both times, mine had apparently just been dried as they were still warm.)

No soap? No problem!

All the showers and sinks had soap dispensers at them if you hadn’t brought your own.  Water pressure was awesome, and the showers were better, and longer, and hotter, than I would have gotten in the van.

I didn’t observe any specific time limit on the shower at either location.  The doors didn’t fling open at 15 minutes or anything.  But like most things in life, it’s best to be courteous and keep it reasonable, especially if others are waiting to use the shower.  Don’t take a nap in there or anything.

So… next time you really just need a shower, you have a decision to make.  You can spend $45 at a campground to get a shower like this:

Actual RV Park Shower….   Not clean. But clean-ish.

Or, now that you know how, you can spend one third as much to get a much nicer shower.
And then you can go stay somewhere awesome like this:

Much better… but no showers.

Knowledge is power, my friends.  But knowing how to get a good, satisfying shower on the road… that’s priceless.

Cheers!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    38 thoughts on “How to Take a Shower at a Truck Stop

    1. Michael

      I heard that people also get a gym membership at one of the 24 hr. gyms and use them for a shower and an overnight.

      Reply
    2. Travis Rayner

      Thank you for this informative article. We have an Allegro Bus and a travel trailer for our off-road adventures. So showers outside the campers have never been considered. However, recently we have taken to Prius car camping (mainly for short trips when we need to cover a lot of ground). We have been getting by using the throw away towelettes…but that ain’t no shower! 🙂 The info you have provided is going to be a blessing for us. Simple and easy…and two for one! Thanks again!

      Reply
    3. Josie

      Hi, not all locations provide soap and are cleaned between customers. I’ve found the the higher truck traffic the better service. When it has been a shall truck traffic and relatively small truck stop it’s more of a gamble.
      Truck stops are my fave stops for needs when on the road. We love them!

      Reply
    4. Michael Yates

      Yet another great how to article that we will try on our next trip. Thanks for marshalling the courage to finally break the shower code. We’ve all been in the truck stops with our minds conjuring bad images of what it might look like (and having no clue how it works). I’ve considered both Loves and Flying J incentive cards on long cross country trips, please let us know how quickly you earn a shower. BTW, was the last picture from South Dakota? It looks like a National Forest campground we stayed at in the southwest corner of the state, beautiful country there!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Neither of the incentive cards are reported to work on the “Auto” side of the house.
        (I’ve personally tried the Love’s and it doesn’t.)

        Reply
    5. Tom

      We use truck stop showers all the time. But I always inspect each place before purchase. Usually they are fine, esp brand names like Loves, Flying J, T/A. But you never know til you look. The shower rooms are usually big enough for two, so my wife and I go in together. I ask for extra towels, and there usually is no extra charge.
      After I’m finished, I usually seek out the attendant and tip her $5. They don’t expect it and are absolutely thrilled that they are appreciated.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good idea – based on what I’ve seen so far, the attendants are definitely earning that tip. I’m going to follow your example. If they love us, they won’t mind seeing RVers come in the future!

        Reply
      2. Becky

        Thank you for this feedback. You just answered my question….could 2 of us take a shower. We would certainly tip the attendant as well!

        Reply
    6. EdM

      That kind of how-to process steps really impresses my need for just how do I do this? I still remember a campground before the millenium that had a shower that took quarters… and having to reach out of the shower to pop more quarters every few minutes when the water stopped!!!

      Reply
      1. Becky

        I had a shower stop on me while I was covered with soap. I was out of quarters and had to wander to find my husband to get more quarters while wrapped in a towel. Not Cool. The dang shower ate my quarters and did not give me the time I had paid for!

        Reply
    7. Stefan Trestyn

      I find that Flying J is usually cleaner. I have never had a dirty room at Flying J/Pilot
      When I travel with my wife and we both use 1 shower they will usually give us 2 towels.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The 2-for-1 shower tip is one of the reasons I’m glad for our Fit RV community.
        We’re definitely trying that next time.

        Reply
    8. Graham Smith

      Pilot/Flying J no longer gives shower credits for gasoline purchases. However some people have an older card that may still get credits, which may be where some of the confusion lies.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks Graham. Good to know.
        I registered for the Love’s card, and it doesn’t seem to work on the “auto” side of the station either. So it looks like neither of them offer any loyalty program for those of us with smaller gas RVs.

        Reply
    9. Stuart Sachs

      James – I’ve been using truck-stop showers since they were only $6 (1974…I think) and have nothing but respect for the cleanliness, and the hospitable staff. You can generally have you and your significant other on one fee. It’s what we’ve been doing for the last few years now that we’re retired. I suspect that they are watching to see if there are any “professional contract agents” going into the showers, but couples are okay.

      Reply
      1. Mike Fisher

        James…I met my wife at a truck stop shower…I told her I have your back if you have mine…so…she slapped me…ha! Just kidding I never met her there!
        Now I know what to expect and I’m with you as I have seen some nasty nasty showers out there!
        Thanks for passing along the info and review!
        Mike aka K9Piper
        PS …please do not tell the bride I met her at one…she has me on a short leash now and I sure do not need a shorter one!

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Mike… your secrets are safe with me.
          (Don’t know if I can say the same for all our other readers though!!)

        2. Mary Ann Daliessio

          Thanks for this info. I had heard RVers were not welcome at Truck Stops so this is cool.

    10. TKA

      We’ve used the showers at Flying J a couple of times and they’re great. Highly recommended if you’re on the road and in need of a shower. I was pleasantly surprised that my wife (Notoriously picky about public facilities) loved it.

      What’s also nice about these facilities is that most of them have restaurants. Makes it nice to be able to clean up and have a meal before getting on the road.

      Reply
        1. Dan Schilling

          Hi James, I would love to hear from you. I have an idea for a new video topic for you and of all the channels I watch you are the perfect person to do it. Please email me and I’ll give you my phone number to explain the idea.

      1. Karin

        Well that is totally interesting! I’ve always wondered how they worked and never would have considered using them before, but I will now!

        Reply
    11. Faith

      For those of us who travel with our Significant Other, you can ask to share a shower. So for that same $12, they give you two sets of towels, and you both get an amazing shower for the same price. This only works if you’re not shy, as there’s only just the one shower stall, and you can’t leave until you’ve both finished. But it’s a great way for couples to save money.

      Reply
    12. Paul Desjardins.

      Thanks for the information, while traveling with my spouse will she need to take a ticket for the ladies showers or are they all the same?.

      It think that some Flying J also have truck wash, maybe hit two (or three) birds at the same stop!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        At all the locations I’ve tried, there are only one set of showers that men and women both use.
        The shower stalls are individual rooms with their own locks, so it shouldn’t matter much.
        Truck wash would be a bonus, and you can weigh your rig at a lot of truck stops as well! Four birds!!

        Reply
    13. Ted

      Nice to know what to expect. To conserve water during extended boondocking I’ve seen recommendations for bringing over sized full body wipes. These are apparently popularly requested items in military care packages for troops going out on long patrols.

      Reply
    14. JoanneG

      We finally figured this out ourselves outside of Tucson, AZ last winter. Only way to go so you can be back boondocking somewhere awesome!

      Reply
    15. Sarah Wynde

      Thank you so much for this — this is GREAT! I admit, I’ve been too intimidated by the idea to figure it out myself. Showering at a truck stop sounded too scary for me. But nothing is more annoying than paying to camp at a campground just because I want a shower and then discovering that their showers are terrible. Well, plenty of things are actually more annoying than that. But it’s pretty annoying and this sounds much nicer than I’d ever imagined! Thank you so much for checking it out and then writing it up!

      Reply

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