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.


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

    1. Chris

      I’ve used them many times when riding cross country on my Motorcycle. Unless you ride you have no idea what 750 miles a day of heat, sun , dirt and bugs will do to you. Truck stops also have the best home cooked food.

      1. James - Post author

        I’ve never done 750 on a motorcycle. But if it’s anything like 200 on a bicycle… I feel your pain. It ain’t pretty!

      2. Paul Guzowski

        I ride but only a bicycle so mileages are a bit shorter. Did the one-day Bodensee Rundfahrt (240km… 150mi) three times, the Voie de la Liberté (Beaches at Normandy to Bastogne, BE… ~100 miles for 7.5 days) and Adventure Cycling’s “Tour of Vermont” (~400 mi in six days with lots of climbing). NOTHING is more wonderful than a good, hot shower after a long day in the saddle. Polo sends.

        1. James - Post author

          The post-ride shower is one of the main reasons that RVs are THE BEST bike support vehicles!

      3. tamie

        But please, truckstop are just that. They were made for us drivers to shower, fuel, rest an eat. We are on a time clock 24 hrs a day. Putting up with more than you 4 wheelers can imagine . If all you RVs ect start parking in our spots, overloading the showers again the finger gets pointed at the driver’s . Please have the decency to go to your location as we are already limited on ours

        1. James - Post author

          OK people, here’s the thing. The truck stops don’t *belong* to truckers. (They don’t *belong* to RVers either, for that matter.)
          The truck stops *belong* to their respective business owners. Like Pilot Flying J for example.
          Have a look at this page, and tell me that RVs are not welcomed BY THE ACTUAL OWNERS at any Pilot Flying J. https://pilotflyingj.com/rv-services/
          Would you also suggest that RVers can’t go to Denny’s if it’s co-located with a stop?
          Are you suggesting that RVs and cars shouldn’t go to the “Autos & RVs” lanes for fuel at a travel stop?

          Now, having said that – being welcomed (by the actual owners) at a truck stop does NOT excuse any poor or anti-social behavior… by RVers or anyone.
          No-one is suggesting that RVs should park in “Truck Only” spaces.
          Nobody is suggesting to cut in line for showers. Or “overload” them.
          Nobody (except the few disgruntled commenters here) have expressed any rudeness at all.
          And if you observe any travel stop customer – RV or otherwise – breaking any of the rules or just being rude, I’d recommend taking it up with the management.

          Again, no rudeness or disrespect is intended. But if there’s a public shower available – I see no reason why the public can’t use it.

    2. George

      Lol. I don’t know about Truckers willing to give up our shower credits… don’t be telling these people to panhandle for shower credits and that we truckers will just give them a free shower. That’s very amusing.

      Frank ain’t being rude, he’s stating facts. Truckers have a limited amount of time to sleep, shower, and deliver. We are allowed to be on the clock for 14 hours a day once we turn on & we can only drive 11. Any delay to our day will eat away at those hours effects our paychecks.

      If you and all your little RV buddies start showing up to shower and hold the lines up, you’re ruining our pay because you don’t want to go to where RVs go shower. If you start trying to park your vehicles in our spots, now you caused us to go over our hours looking for parking.

      Most truck stops do not have spots for RVs, either.

      I’ll tell you who is geared towards RVs…. Buckee’s that’s who. They’re just as nice and Truckers are not allowed to park there.

      Please don’t start crowding our facilities and go to Buckee’s instead. Those are travel stops for 4 wheelers are RVs. Jeez

    3. DaveD

      I’ve paid for a campground before, and then had 1-terrible showers, 2-showers that still cost $5 apiece, and 3-a punch card with only two showers per night (we had 4 people in the RV, so one did the towelette, one did the RV shower, and the other two lucky ones got a real shower). I didn’t even know Love’s and Flying J/Pilot HAD showers! I see some truck stop showers in my future.

      1. Scott Mrochko

        I work at a Pilot. No time limit on a shower… You can also share a shower with a friend. One at a time or together… Extra towels are free… So if two people use the same shower, it’s only six a piece…. I’ve had families of six share one… That’s two dollars a head and they all got their own towel…. Don’t forget to tip the shower attendant!

        1. Suzanne Ingram

          Never thought of tipping. I figured out there is a towel drop for you to place your dirty towels when you are done. No directions for that either. Truckers get the best out of reward cards but you can still get credit for shopping

        2. Driverdave

          Many drivers have extra showers that fall off the card in 7-10 days. I currently have 5 showers on mine. Just ask. If I see anyone paying for a shower, I tell them to save their money and I give them one of mine.
          And, yes, tip the shower person a buck or two. It is a disgusting job sometimes.

      2. Frank Garey

        Yes of course come in and jam up a truckers day even more by making us waste even more of our valuable time waiting on a shower that is far less accommodating then at home just because you think you need to use our shower on you optional travels (some call it camping but we all know thats not true). And if you are camping you take a shower when you get home. Of course us trucker could go days or weeks without taking a shower but that would just give you all something else to complain about. So by all means get in line to abuse a trucker….there is no charge for that.

        1. James - Post author

          Hey Frank – nobody here is suggesting to abuse truckers. That’s an awful sentiment, and I doubt any RVers would agree with it. If lines for showers become a problem, it’s up to the travel plaza (a private business) to regulate it. And I’m sure we’d all be happy to follow whatever guidelines they set.

          Things work out smoother for all of us when we share the road… and everything that goes along with it.

        2. Suzanne Ingram

          Hey Frank..i use the showers at truck stops cuz I don’t have one( ok heater went) but I don’t abuse it. Your just a trucker who hates rvers. Seen plenty of your kind but my rv is my home just like ur truck is ur home. Can’t we all just b friends?
          Share the road and the showers..

        3. HME Support Services

          Frank, some of us live on the road even though we don’t drive rigs. You think you own the road because you’re a “professional” driver, all the while forgetting that rigs are not the only vehicles whose drivers live on the road.

        4. Mr.

          Frank, where did you get the idea that you own the truck stop? I’m a transporter and most Flying J’s have parking areas for RV and state no bobtails
          But you truckers think you own the place and take the rv spots. They are called Travel Centers for a reason. They are for EVERYONE. Most truckers are kind and courteous, it’s just a few who give the rest a bad name.

      3. Greg

        You can also ask a driver really nicely if he/she would be willing to get a shower for you, most of us drivers have extra credit for showers,.

    4. John

      Good post, enjoyed it.

      However I would like to add something that is very important about health and safety.

      Many of these showers are not cleaned all that great, and you should bring a bar of antibacterial soap with you and clean towels. And get a paid of “flip-flops” to wear in the shower.

      Not to disparage the staff at these truck stops but it only takes once to get a nasty infection on your feet or legs. I had this happen twice, once on my feet and ended up in the er 3000 miles from home and another on my right leg that took months to heal,

      So don’t be scared to use them, just use them with caution,

      Also one other thing is truck stops stopped being truck stops a long time ago, they are travel centers that are truck centric. A bunch have their rv pumps and dumps while others are made to allow rvs to fuel up without hassles, if truckers complain, remember they are just jealous of you and the freedoms you have,

    5. 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.

    6. 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!

    7. 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!

    8. 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!

      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.)

    9. 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.

      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!

      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!

    10. 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!!!

      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!

    11. 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.

      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.

      2. Guy

        In addition to clean(er) showers, Pilot Flying J also tends to have cleaner rest rooms. Before my (third and last) retirement, I drove a tour motorcoach (bus). For my fuel stops, which also always would be rest room, etc., stops for my passengers, I favored Pilot Flying J at every opportunity. I knew they would have clean rest rooms for my passengers–and me. PS: I had pulled into a Pilot Flying J late one night and could hear the fuel desk calling for an attendant because a tour bus had just pilled in.

    12. 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.

      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.

    13. 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.

      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!

        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.

    14. 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.

      1. James - Post author

        Yes! Also, many of them sell propane and have dump stations. A true one-stop shop.

        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!

    15. 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.

    16. 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!

      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!!

    17. 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.

    18. 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!

    19. 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!

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