January 6, 2018

#1 Question - Do you have a toilet? My Full Disclosure

So many portable toilet options if you want one!
This blog post might be too much information (TMI) for some, even though it is the number one question asked of me. I’ll warn you that blunt honestly is to follow. 

The majority of the people I share my van lifestyle with are concerned about where I will pee and poop while on the road. 

They don't quite ask me in that way, instead they ask, 
"Do you have a toilet in the van?"

The question still surprises me because I came from sleeping in my car for weeks at a time and never needed a porta-potty then. Besides, don’t you want to know all the awesome places I have visited instead of how I empty my bladder? I guess not!

Is it that we have become so domesticated that we can't imagine anything but sitting on our own private throne at home to do our business? I suppose that is partially true. 

Did you know that not every female sits on a toilet? I have seen signs in women's bathrooms, that have a large Japanese tourist population, showing women that they must not squat while standing on the toilet rim in the USA, sitting is instead required. Also, I recently read in a Lisa Sees book how a young woman, who grew up in a remote village, couldn't image why city dwellers would want to sit on the same seat that many others before them have sat on instead of squat. To each their own I suppose. 

So back to the question. Normally I answer one of two ways, depending on the person asking. 1. Nope, I did make room for one however if in the future I want one. 2. Yes, it is stored under the bed (not truthful but makes some people more comfortable.) These answers satisfies most people and the issue is dropped. 

However I believe the questions should continue so here is complete disclosure, for me personally, as I wouldn’t dare guess how others remove the waste from their bodies. 

How do you avoid the need to pee in the van?

Before I enter my van in the evening I do my best to empty my bladder, if in nature I usually squat nearby the van. If in the city I find a restroom, most of the time. Honestly, dogs pee on bushes and I have too. I have also peed In alleys, in dark corners and in the middle of the night. Okay now that I have revealed that, I have always wondered why a  guy can and a girl shouldn’t?

What happens if you have to pee in the middle of the night and don’t want to go outside? 

If I just can’t hold it any longer in the middle of the night I’ll use a portable urinal that I bought at Amazon.
It works great, doesn't leak and has a large capacity -  but I hate to clean it out in the morning so I avoid it if at all possible.

Have you ever had a bowel movement (my mom calls it that) in your van?

Nope I have never pooped in the van. Pooping is always, in my case, in the woods, where I dig and cover, or a public toilet. 

When you first wake up don’t you really have to go?

Most mornings I wake with an urgent need to pee. However I usually lay there, write my Morning Pages, check emails and read social media postings. 
When I do get up, I dress first, when in the city, and by the time I complete that task and make the bed I am surprised how the urgency has diminished, sometimes so much so that I stay in the van for an hour or so longer without relieving myself. Okay this is not a good option for many because it is my understanding that “holding it” too long can lead to a UTI but so far that has not happened to me. 
Also, another disclosure, I am not a “need to drink coffee first thing” girl so that helps with the need for number two first thing in the morning. 

When in the city I park near a coffee shop, cafe, gas station, hotel lobby, Walmart or 24 hour services; just in case I do need to use their facilities first thing or last thing. When traveling from place to place I often spend the night at a Rest Stop. 

Bottom line, I suppose, is that I never stress over it. I just make it part of my life and don’t feel inconvenienced. Thankfully I have never had the flu or illness that might make the issue acute. If the need was acute, I suppose, I would either be in a mess of trouble, possibly rely on ziplock bags or quickly rent a hotel room. 

So now that you know that I don’t have a toilet, don’t want one and am totally happy with my arrangement, maybe, just maybe, you can be a little less concerned for me. 

Now if I did have one I may get the composting toilet kind but they must be vented which means air exchange, cold air at night in many cases. Brrrr!


  1. While I, for one, was not terribly concerned about this or for you in this regard, I will admit to reading and will say very well said. Thanks for clearing that up ; ~ }.

  2. I must admit that I spent several summer seasons as a van dweller before I got used to going to toilet in the woods! Every morning when heading into the bushes with toilet paper in my pocket I felt shy and embarrassed, feeling a bit like I was the only one facing this challenge (which I certainly realized that I was not). But once I stayed at a site up in the mountains with numerous van dwellers and wildcampers around it just became so obvious that we were all dealing with the issues in more or less the same way, trying to hide behind a rock, shorts down, squat and get it done as quickly as possible. And for sure my bum was just like the bum of everybody else. When going for #2 even men do it the same way. So, yes, it is good to be frank, we all do it.

  3. Just curious. Does it ever happen that anyone comes by just when sitting there? What to say and how to behave then?

    1. Sitting where? Squatting perhaps. If someone comes by when I am doing my business in the woods people get embarrassed and turn and walk away.

  4. Just my experience too. For sure it has happened to me also. Nothing to worry about. A glimpse of some white skin should not hurt anyone. Every hiker and most van dwellers (and even truck drivers) know all about it. Besides, those possibly coming by most probably are out there for the same reason.


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