From basic chemical toilets to the more expensive composting varieties, there are lots of toilet options out there for your RV. But the question remains, “do you really need a toilet in your camper van?”
When we first started van life, we carried a small Porta Potty in our camper. It was comforting to know that we had our bathroom solution taken care of. But after over 2 years on the road, we NEVER needed our toilet, we gave it away for good.
In this article, we will discuss 4 reasons why we believe you don’t need a camper van toilet. As of this writing, we’ve been on the road for 2.5 years and have almost never had an issue with this.
So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!
1. Public Toilets Are Everywhere!
After more than two years on the road, trust us when we say that there is an over-abundance of public toilets everywhere we went. If you are in a urban or even semi-urban setting, there is likely a public toilet very close to you.
Let’s list all the different places where toilets exist.
When you’re on the road, how often do you find yourself at, or near, one of the places above? Unless you’re boon-docking long-term in the countryside, bathroom facilities really are everywhere and we’ve used these services countless times.
So it was no wonder we never used our camper van toilet when we had it.
2. Empty Water Bottles > RV Toilets
We admit, it took a bit of getting used to, but peeing into plastic bottles was a game changer. I know, I know…if this is the first time you’re hearing this, then I’m sure you’re a tad grossed out. But hear me out.
Not enough time to locate a public bathroom? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
Bathroom emergency in the middle of the night? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
On the road and don’t want to pull over? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
Stealth camping in the city and can’t go outside? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
Public bathroom too gnarly? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
Lazy? -> USE THE BOTTLE.
The list is endless.
Replacing a camper van toilet with a plastic bottle is one of our top van life tips.
But you might be asking, “but what about for her? You couldn’t possibly expect her to go directly into a bottle!”
Great question. Female urination devices (aka a ‘SheWee’) works perfectly in conjunction with a plastic bottle. One look at this funnel and you won’t need this post to explain you how to use it.
In Yuko’s opinion, this funnel is one of the key van life essentials for women.
And again, we know it sounds gross. But just pick up a bottle and the funnel and try it out. You’ll be glad you did.
“But what about going #2? Surely you don’t poop in your bottles as well!”
We’re not THAT gross! For that dreaded #2, we still look out for public restrooms. But if we’re out boondocking in nature, keep reading below to learn more.
3. The Great Outdoors Is Your 5-Star Bathroom
It’s true, if you’re into boondocking out in the wild, chances are there aren’t any public toilets available to you. But just because there aren’t any public toilets doesn’t mean we don’t have a bathroom solution.
We have to be honest here, squatting in the great outdoors took some time to get used to. It’s slightly uncomfortable at first and a bit intimidating with slight feelings of vulnerability.
Who wants to get caught with their pants down at their ankles?
But once our initial discomfort subsided, we got very used to doing our business out in nature. Behind a tree, or a bush, or even simply by the back of the van; it’s all fair game.
We want to make clear that we follow certain important guidelines to disposing of waste while in the wild.
- Ensure the hole that is dug is large and deep enough.
- Ensure we are more than 100m from a water source.
- Everything is fully buried.
If done properly, doing your business outside is clean and with minimal impact to the environment. And to ensure that we ‘leave no trace’, we use a trusty camping trowel to help dig our holes and to make sure that they’re the proper dimension.
4. Camper Van Toilets Are A Waste Of Space
Space is limited in a camper van and that RV toilet, no matter how compact, will take up a good chuck of a van’s real estate. When we install something in our vans, there is almost always a trade-off.
If you want a toilet, what will you give up?
In our van, we actually value each of the above spaces more than having a camper van toilet.
Or if you wanted, you could buy a bigger van and fit everything. But we prioritized traveling in a van that was less than 20’ long, for navigation and parking purposes.
5. Don't Have To Deal With Waste Products & Black Water
Not having a camper van toilet means not having to live with the sweet fragrance of human waste in our tiny camper van.
But just as important, not having a toilet means not having to dump a toilet full of black water. Without a toilet, you won’t have to constantly search for a dump station or try to secretly lug your black water tank into a McDonalds/Walmart.
When A Campervan Toilet Makes Sense
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bathroom solutions.
The goal of this article is to explain why having a van life toilet isn’t necessary for us and how we get by.
But camper van toilets can make perfect sense for many different groups of people.
- Not everyone can, or wants to, poop outdoors. Or even pee in a bottle.
- Some of us simply need to go to the bathroom more often than others.
- Or others might have medical conditions, which require an actual toilet to always be nearby.
For this reason, we quickly list some of the common camper van toilets available on the market today.
Types of Camper Van Toilets
Compost Toilets: Compost toilets separate the liquid from the solid waste. The solid waste is mixed in with organic fiber to create a compost, which can simply be bagged and thrown away when full. People who have compost toilets love them and can DIY versions can be made. Professionally made compost toilets can run almost $1,000.
The Cassette Toilet (aka the Porta-Potti): These types of toilets come with a storage unit that can be removed and emptied. Liquid chemicals are often put into the removable tank to reduce odors, and as a result, these “black water” tanks must be emptied in a certified dump station or toilet. Not the most convenient.
Foldable Seat w/Bag: As simple as a toilet gets. This gadget can fold out into a basic toilet and you can attach a plastic bag underneath to catch the waste. Space efficient and easy. The best part is that this toilet folds down to the size of a briefcase when not used.
Our first preference for a toilet would be this one if we were FORCED to buy one!
By now, we hoped that we’ve helped answer the question about whether or not you need a toilet in your camper van. Though these toilets are convenient, we don’t think they’re worth the space they take up for all the reasons we listed above.
“Where are we going to go to the bathroom today” is a question we ask ourselves almost every day. But with a little thought, there are plenty of places to go. And once you learn what to look out for and with some pre-planning, we don’t think going to the bathroom is such a big deal anymore.
We hope you enjoyed our article and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!