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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
Enter your code and walk on in. This is the point where you’ll see why there’s a wait between showers.
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.)
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:
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:
Knowledge is power, my friends. But knowing how to get a good, satisfying shower on the road… that’s priceless.