Eyy, here with a quick blurb to discuss, How are you not gross and grimy when you live in a car?

Yeah, I get it. It’s hard to imagine living out of a tiny car, hiking and sweating and stuff all the time, and not having quick or reliable access to a shower. It’s true! It’s an adaptation. And humans hate change.

After my last long trip, I remember returning home and being like, Oh my God, I can shower, like, whenever I want?? It felt like the highest luxury. At the same time, going without really isn’t as stressful as it first seems. Let’s go over the options.

First off, covid messes a lot of this stuff up. Yeah, we knew travelling in a pandemic was going to be rough, but oof. Some places, like Texas, you’d hardly know a thing’s changed. Other places, like New Mexico here, are pretty tightly locked down using a gradated opening system. (Remember that, PA peeps? We did that too before the governor just kinda gave up on it.) This affects my ability to take care of myself on the road, depending on what’s shut down or restricted. Somehow, travelling now feels harder in a way than it did when things were really tightly locked down across the board last year — this might have to do with the weather. More on this in a bit.

My old faithful with the ability to shower and work out (both add benefits to your mental health and ability to feel more OK about yourself when naked) is a Planet Fitness gym membership. They have a bazillion locations across the US. Other folks would use or recommend YMCA; it’s up to your own personal preference, and for me, paying $23/mo for unlimited showering and working out is a pretty sweet deal. Just make sure the gyms are actually open. You should have seen my face fall when I pranced into a gym in New Mexico and the guy informed me I couldn’t shower there, or anywhere in New Mexico for that matter. Womp.

Next in line is the ol’ sink shower. This is what I was left with at the aforementioned Planet Fitness. I grab some paper towels or bring my own baby wipes, and get wet and sudsy in the areas to be cleaned, using antibacterial hand soap which kills any monocellular dudes who want to make some stank action. Then just rinse, dry off, and you’re (moderately) good to go. Once I’m done writing this, I got one of these bad boys in store for me. *shakes fist at covid*

If you’re brave of in desperate need of a shower, you can always buy one at a local truck stop or camping/RV area. I, as a seasoned millennial, hate talking to people more than I should, so I stay away from these options because I am ridiculous.

Which makes the next point I am going to make here even more ridiculous: I’ve also had luck bumming showers off of kind folks on Tinder. I just slam some truth in my profile, don’t look or act like a creep, and make it clear I’m not down to fuck, and somehow people are nice and awesome and supportive and wish they could travel themselves. I’ve met a bunch of cool folks this way! (I’ve also had some less-than-wholesome tinder experiences of course, so make sure you watch your back, protect yourself, and listen to your gut if it says run at the sign of even the most minute red flag.)

Another option to get clean and feeling good has been swimming, I’ve found. I really love swimming, it’s refreshing, and offers the added benefit of water in your armpits leading to a feeling of successful adulthood. I’m not above swimming to get clean, which was a go-to during my last long trip — in the fucking frigid Lake Superior, in the grimy Colorado river, in state parks, in the ocean, in hot springs, in the Salmon River of Idaho, you name it, I rinsed my arm pits out in it. I’d advise against using soap in a natural body of water so you don’t wreck the natural balance of things.

The deodorant you pick is important, too. I’ve opted for a non-aluminum one so my clothes don’t get stained in the pits. I’ve had great luck with Arm & Hammer unscented, recently. Shit’s magical — doesn’t smell, and I don’t smell. Awesome.

Something I learned about on the road is the importance of foot health. Wearing the same old hiking sandals or shoes and beating the absolute hell out of my feet after living a pretty sedentary existence was a little eye opening for me. My feet would get sores from rubbing, would get dry and calloused, and even crack open painfully in the heel. Not to mention, they smelled! I’d never experienced any of this before, and had to do a bunch of research and find out what could work to fix it. I settled on trying to wash my feet as much as possible, using leukotape for the sores, exfoliate for the callouses, use Flexitol for the dryness and cracks (this stuff is seriously magical and fixed my extremely painful feet after the first application), and a good foot powder to keep them dry and smelling fine.

Another thing is — keep in touch with your digestive health. Being on the road often means changing one’s diet, and this can wreak havoc on the whole system. I take a multivitamin with food, pack nutritional shakes with a bunch of nutrients an vitamins to supplement, and also try as hard as I can to eat enough fiber (trust me on this). Fiber supplements suck in my opinion, I fucking swear by Mission’s Carb Balance tortillas, one tortilla has 15 (!!!) grams of fiber, so I try and slam one back a day and it’s helped immensely.

As far as zipping in and out of gas stations, department stores, or the gym to get everything done, I just try to keep my necessities in a backpack that’s good to go, and get it done quickly. For longer showers/when I wash my hair, I have a shower caddy with all my other important stuff I can bring in with me.

So, my biggest advice would be, don’t sweat it (intended). I don’t need to shower every day or twice a day (I miss my scalding winter showers and cold summer showers, OK??). I don’t need to wash my hair often. I don’t need a bubble bath (unless…?). I DO need to brush my teeth (and floss! I’m old), wash my face, rinse my pits, take care of my feet, and get enough vitamins and fiber. Focus on that, and on having a good time and seeing the scenery. It’s worth it.