Teardrop Trailer Bathroom and Kitchen Solutions

Two posts ago I asked what your biggest questions were about tiny trailer living, and by far two most asked questions were: 1. What do you do for a bathroom? And 2. What do you do for a kitchen?

There are several possible solutions for those who live in teardrops (and some kinds of vans , passenger vehicles, etc.) and being the person I am, a fair bit of research went into my decision. First, the bathroom.

Shower

It’s common knowledge that while the Casita had a shower, I never, not even once, used in in the six years I lived in it. So nothing has changed there.

I like my showers long, and a 6 gallon water heater just didn’t do it for me. So instead I take showers in the places I travel – campgrounds, truck stops, laundromats, visitor centers, public pools, gyms, friend’s houses… there are all sorts of places to take a shower when you don’t have your own. And when I’m boondocking and don’t have regular access to a real shower (which I usually indulge in about once a week), I use sponge bathing, wet wipes, and local lakes and streams to keep myself clean.

I did not clean myself in this stream outside Silverton however. It was super cold and the water was yellow!

People who aren’t use to roughing it are probably right now dismayed to learn that I only shower once a week. A couple things here. First, you can keep yourself quite clean with sponge bathing. It can be just as thorough a cleaning as taking a shower, and wastes a lot less water which is very important when boondocking. And second, when you shower less frequently, your body gets use to it and produces less oils and such, so that you don’t get gross and smelly as fast. Interesting fact: My profile picture? The one of me sitting in front of the Casita in the desert? I hadn’t washed my hair in eight days when I took that photo. Eight. Days. And my hair was still alright. (As a side note, that photo will be changing soon.)

Now that I’m in the squaredrop, I’m using wet wipes more and sponge bathing less. Why? Because the Hiker Trailer has no gray tank, and dumping gray water (water used for cleaning yourself, dishes, etc. for you newbies) on Forest Service and other public, boondocking land is prohibited or at least frowned upon in most places. If you ARE in a place where it’s okay to dump gray water, always disperse it in a wide area well away from your campsite, well away from any water source, and only use soaps and detergents that are biodegradable – I use Campsuds.

If you’re in a teardrop, pop-up, or van that doesn’t come with a shower and you want one, there are are ways to get around the ‘no plumbing’ problem. Many people in these situations buy a bag-style shower that can be hung in a high place, often the bag is dark in color so it can be set out in the sun to warm the water inside, and then there’s a spray head on the low end where the water comes out from the force of gravity.

If you want something a bit more sophisticated, you can buy a pump-style bottle meant for use with liquid fertilizers and use that to shower or wash dishes with – there are even high end ones specifically meant for camping, but the garden ones are cheaper and work just as well. I’m sure there are other camping showers out there too.

For privacy, there are bottomless tent structures that you can buy and put up around your shower area, or to save some money you can simply rig up a tarp.

Toilet

Disclaimer: I do get into quite a bit of detail about my toilet solution, as I want this to be a useful guide for others thinking of buying a rig that doesn’t come with a toilet. But some readers might be squeamish and not really care about how I do my business, so if that’s you, you may want to skip this section.

For most of my teardrop researching phase, I thought I would end up with a cassette toilet. It’s the most “toilet-y” option for a rig that doesn’t come with a standard RV toilet. But then days before picking it up when I actually got into looking how a cassette toilet works, I changed my mind. There are a lot of parts that can leak and they require some finesse.

But first, toilet research.

My RVing friends Kelly and Marshall run a website called Camp Addict, dedicated to RV and camping related product reviews. And they have a page comparing toilet options. And when I say they have a page dedicated to toilets I don’t mean they spent an afternoon looking at RV toilets and spit out some recommendations. I mean they spent months researching all different categories of RVing toilets and wrote thousands of words on the subject. And if you don’t really want to read thousands of words about toilets that’s okay, because they have a quick summary and comparison guide too. These two are thorough.

Anyway, I went to their toilet page to look up the best cassette toilets, and while I’m sure they’re a great option for a lot of people, I’m on a mission to keep things simple. So what did I end up with? A bucket with a toilet seat and lid over it. And that’s just for emergencies, I haven’t even used it yet.

Yes, I’ve been relieving myself in the woods, which probably makes the RVers in my audience uncomfortable, but which the tenters and vehicle dwellers are probably quite familiar with.

It is legal when boondocking to do your business outside, but of course there are rules. Here’s a page direct from the Forest Service that talks about what those rules generally are, and if you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to search for the specific area you’re staying in to see if there are additional caveats. The Bureau of Land Management has similar rules for their land.

Here are the basics though:

  1. Do your business away from the campsite, away from public areas/points of interest, and away from water sources.

  2. Bury Number 2. I have a small folding shovel I use to dig a hole.

  3. Pack your toilet paper out with you! This is a pet peeve of mine, I hate seeing used toilet paper left behind at the edges of a campsite. It’s unhygienic, animals (including pets) can get into it, it takes a long time to decompose (especially in the dry west), and it’s an eyesore. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Some people erect a small bottomless tent over their latrine pit and have a frame with a toilet seat to sit on inside. I literally just squat behind the trees. And yes I’ve done it in all sorts of weather. Momentarily uncomfortable, but again I appreciate how simple it is.

As for the bucket, it lives in the back of Bertha, which has an adequately tall topper to be able to sit on the thing inside. The back windows are tinted so people can’t see in, and this way I won’t get smells inside my living space.

Oooookay, I feel like I’ve shared more than enough on this topic. If you want more info, visit Camp Addict. Moving on.

Kitchen

Traditionally shaped teardrops have a sloping rear galley, with a lot of open surface space in back for cooking. The Hiker Trailer has a flat rear with three tiers of shelves, more like a large cabinet. You could install some sort of sink and stove setup back there on the largest middle shelf if you wanted to, but being a full-timer, I wanted all that space for storage.

So what I did was bought a cheap 4′ long table from Walmart, and a Classic Coleman stove (together they cost maybe $80). I already had plastic tubs from my time in the Casita to use for doing dishes in. I set up the stove and table on the left side of the trailer where the propane tank is mounted, bought an adapter hose to hook the stove up to the propane tank, and voila, instant kitchen. Here it is in use, my first time heating up lunch after buying all the stuff.

So new, you can see the packaging and stickers on everything

Not coming with a fridge, some teardrop owners opt to put a tiny, dorm size one in. Others buy 12 volt cooler shaped fridges, which can be placed in the teardrop or tow vehicle. Others opt for a high quality cooler, there are models out there that will keep food cold for seven days with one round of ice.

I may opt for one of these methods eventually, but for the time being, I’m just avoiding food that requires refrigeration. Some of you may remember my dehydrated food experiment from 2016 – I was already thinking about teardrop living when I did that experiment. Well, I’ve stocked up on dehydrated soups again, they’re lightweight, healthier than the typical canned soup, last almost forever, and can be mixed with other canned or fresh ingredients to make a whole variety of dishes.

Otherwise, my food routine hasn’t changed much, you can find it in my Boondocking Answers article. I’ve never been much of a cook and have only heated up one meal a day (lunch) when boondocking. Breakfast is a bar of some sort, supper is a sandwich – none of that has changed. The Hiker has a pas-through door to access the middle shelf from inside, so I put snacks, water, and sandwich stuff on that shelf, so that I can make easy meals inside no matter how cold or dark it is outside.

Okay! I think that’s everything. I hope you found this article helpful or at least entertaining. Thanks Patreon supporters and PayPal donators!

Related Posts

Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

52 Comments

  1. Dave on November 5, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Forgive me if I missed it from another thread. What is the interior and exterior height of your hiker trailer?

    I looked for generic height specs on their website, but there were none to be found.

    Thanks, Dave



  2. James Justus on October 25, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Wishing you many wonderful memories with your Hiker Trailer.



    • Becky on October 29, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks!



  3. Ann in Tacoma on October 25, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Having been a long time boater (almost 30 years) on my two cruising size boats on Puget Sound and in Canada, I can understand the need to discuss toilet issues. Every time I had someone new on the boat (even for a few hours), we went through the process of how to flush the onboard toilet and what to put (and NOT to put) in the toilet. People can be so squeamish! And yet we all pee and poop so what’s not to like. 🙂 Sold the boats, bought a 21-foot Escape trailer and so far am only peeing in the toilet. I put two plastic bags lined with plenty of paper in the toilet to catch poop. One must check local ordinances but so far everywhere I go it’s legal to put securely wrapped poop into trash containers. I’m not camping far enough away from other folks to use the bushes so my current plan will have to do, and it’s a good plan. Thank you for talking about this topic frankly. I’ve learned from you and from your readers.



    • Becky on October 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      I’m glad you found this informative Ann and thanks for sharing. You’re right: everyone poops. 😛



  4. Kevin Feltner on October 23, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Great Post, Becky!

    Have you tried lentils? The cook much faster than beans without soaking. I cook these often with various spices and fresh vegetables. It allows me to keep my sodium down while eating healthy.



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      /thanks, and yes I have! And some of the Harmony House soups have lentils in them.



  5. Kit Frost on October 22, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Thanks Becky, great post. I have a shower in my tt, but have NEVER used it. In fact, it’s my clothes closet. And when I don’t want to deal with “dumping” my sewer, or I’m car camping, I use the Go Anywhere Toilet. It folds flat, and that way I don’t store the bucket you chose. And the plastic bags are bio degradable and can be dropped off at the nearest trash can on the road.



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      You’re welcome Kit, thanks for sharing. 🙂



  6. Mary on October 22, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for this post. I appreciate your info and your blog. Keep up the good work. Love your new camper!!



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      You’re welcome Mary, glad you’re enjoying IO!



  7. Bret on October 21, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    How long have you been in the little Hiker and how are you liking it vs bigger Casita?



  8. AZ_Kit on October 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    My parents were backpackers before I was born, so by the time I was 3 or 4 I was taught how to do my business outside. I rarely do, preferring even a vault toilet to the dirt, but it’s a useful skill.

    On my recent trip, I ranked camping places by shower situation. The nicest was Canyon Campground in Yellowstone. The worst were NM and OR state parks. CA state parks cost way more than anywhere else for camping, and were the only campgrounds where the shower costs extra. In fact, at one CA state park, I filled up a couple jugs in the sink and did a partial shower without needing any quarters. On previous trips, I saw nice public pay showers in Telluride CO, and I’ve showered in Pahrump NV at the public pool for only one quarter.



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Yeah, California has expensive state parks. They’re beautiful though, so I’ve stayed in a couple in my years on the road. If you want a great shower, visit a good truck stop. They cost a lot, but many of them feel like shower suites and are very fancy!



  9. david Swanson on October 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Becky give this a try or give it some thought. It’s HUGE!
    Add a 12V computer fan to the side near the bottom of that bucket/seat. Find one on Ebay or at a computer shop.
    Line the bucket with a paper grocery bag inside a heavier plastic bag.
    Cut holes in the bags where the fan is and cover the top of the hole with a paper plate or piece of cardboard.
    Plastic clothes dryer hose can be attached to the fan to run it out a window or hole.
    Use your regular container for urine.
    I call it the air flush. After three weeks there will be about 1/3 of a grocery bag of very dry easy to dispose of poop. The plastic bag will last for a few months.

    I



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Clever idea David, but it sounds like work, haha! Going outside is just so much more simple.



  10. Irv on October 20, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Do you plan to use Reliance Products Doodie bags? (Basically a small heavy duty trash bag with moisture absorbing powder in it to solidify liquids, and a second bag to go around as a safety. You can put Doodie bags containing #1 & #2 waste in trash cans.)

    I used Doodie bags when camping in the west where some sandstone areas require you to pack out all your #2. The powder solidifies #1 but the powder and bags only partially control the smell from #2.

    I found a solution. I bought a military surplus metal ammo can. They have a rubber seal around a clamp-down lid that does a pretty good job of containing odor. A 30 caliber can would probably meet your needs. Test the can before buying to make sure that it’s somewhat hard to open because the can is air tight.

    I painted the ammo can white and then put a biohazard decal on the lid.



    • Becky on October 23, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      We’ll see Irv. Since cost is always a factor for me I’ll probably start with the cheapest solution, and if that doesn’t meet my needs, move up from there. Thanks for sharing.



  11. David Michael on October 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Great post Becky. I appreciate your detailed descriptions of what it’s like to live in a square tear drop. I love the simplicity…to a degree. As you mentioned, more like a backpacker trailer.

    After seven years full-timing with a 27 foot Lazy Daze, class C, a very comfortable RV, I arrived at several conclusions similar to you.

    Two years ago (age 80), we sold the RV and moved into a cozy apartment as our base. Now, we have a new RAM Promaster van and converted it to a camper with 6 ft height to stand up in and move around easily. We carry two kayaks on top and two bikes on the back. At 60 sq ft for living space, we use it for short three day to long ten week trips, our longest to Maine, Vermont, Canada, and Minnesota from Oregon. It could be used as a tiny home for one person.

    Here’s what we changed in our van from the RV. The idea was to keep it simple, simple, simple. 1) No shower. 2) No bathroom, only a porta potty which doubles as a seat. 3) No water heater. 4) Cooking from a small, portable Asian stove that uses one cylinder of butane for inside or outside. Love it! 5) Heater is a small portable Buddy Heater (one portable propane cylinder). 6) Best of all…everything (lights, frig, etc) is powered by solar (two 150 watt panels for total of 300 watts). 7) No inverter 8) We do have a sink and counter with manual pump faucet. The water is stored in a 5 gallon container (Walmart) and another empty container for grey water.

    The van build is very simple and elegant with pine paneled walls and ceiling. It’s kind of a go between from your small Tear Drop to a class B. I love the simplicity.

    It’s all good! Keep the adventures coming. We miss the full time RV lifestyle!



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      Sounds like a sweet setup David, I’m glad it’s been working well for you two!



  12. Linda Sand on October 20, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I had a heavy duty trash bag lining my bucket toilet. I threw the paper in there, too, to help minimize liquids. Just before hauling it out I added whatever trash I had on hand (a collection of freeze-dried food packets, usually) to make it look like just another bag of trash. Oh, I also put an air freshener between the bucket and the bag to help keep odors down. All of that was done in a cabin with no running water where we’d go for weekends. Our last stop on the way out was the local landfill where we’d toss the bag deep into the field.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:48 pm

      Good advice Linda, thanks for sharing.



  13. Cathy on October 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Have you considered a composting toilet? I have a small class c motorhome and I’m really considering replacing my toilet with one. No water required so I would have a toilet for winter camping.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      Not enough space in my teardrop, but I know other people who have one. I believe that Camp Addict page on toilets I linked talks about composting toilets…



  14. Christi on October 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I have been happy (and impressed) with Yeti products while camping. I have camped with one bag of ice for several days.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      Yeti brand is talked about a lot by other Hiker Trailer and teardrop owners. Thanks for weighing in Christi. 🙂



  15. Douglas D Hinman on October 20, 2018 at 10:09 am

    One thing you can use for your bucket Loo is sawdust. We have a forest service area near where we live and they have a outhouse where you use the sawdust after using the facilities and not only does it keep the odor almost non existent, it decomposes the waste! You can buy bags of sawdust at some farm stores, Such as Big R, Coastal, Wilco, maybe home depot, pet stores? Great Blog! Wish I was young enough to do that kind of camping again, but I need my comforts now so we have a 5th wheel, but we go south in the winter and spend out time on the desert boondocking!



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      I’ve given some thought to this. When I spent that ten day vacation on an off-grid island in British Columbia last year, the outhouses at the place I stayed used sawdust, and they smelled amazingly good!

      I’m glad you’re making the most of what you’re able to do, and getting out in the 5th wheel. It’s still gotta be loads better than not camping at all!



  16. William Branham on October 20, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Well thought out and expressed nicely. Being a former backpacker( I’m looking at 72)my wife and I have incorporated many of these strategies into our Casita camping.
    After a year on the AT I actually prefer doing my business outside
    Thank you.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks for sharing William, the AT or one of the other big through-hikes is on my list for someday. 🙂



  17. Mike on October 20, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Thanks Becky.
    Very thought provoking. You really get me thinking.

    –Mike



    • sdw on October 20, 2018 at 8:10 am

      My question is, will you feel like doing all that when your 50 or 60?



      • jk on October 20, 2018 at 10:38 am

        Hello SDW, I’m sure she doesn’t always feel like doing it now but there are trade-offs to everything. I think that if you want this lifestyle you will be making sacrifices for the freedom you seek. I frequently boondock and poop in the woods, I’m 58 by-the-way. People did this for thousands of years.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Mike – You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed this!

      sdw – Probably not, but I can’t read the future. There are plenty of people in that age range out camping in teardrops, and for all I know there may be older full-timers in teardrops. A lot of people on the road don’t have an online presence and you’d never know them unless you happen to meet them in person. In a similar vein there are plenty of older backpackers, minimalists, and people who like to live off the land/off grid. So this kind of roughing it can certainly can be done by 50-60 year olds.

      As individuals we’re always changing and evolving, and our needs and wants evolve right along with them. I don’t subscribe to the idea of lifestyle permanence. The Hiker is not my “forever RV” because there is no such thing. It’s the right choice for where I am right now, and at some point it’ll probably stop being the right choice, at which point I’ll happily move on to where my life is taking me at that point. 🙂

      jk – Thanks for sharing.



      • Gail kelly on October 20, 2018 at 11:16 pm

        At 75 , I am still camping and buying my second small trailer(and peeing outside when necessary). I took 5 day raft trip last month with 20 others all sharing the separate pee and poop buckets. Pee was dumped into river and poo had to be brought to special commercial poo cleaning station, per forest service rules. It took a little getting used to!!



  18. Marsha on October 20, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Good information. When we had our older Scamp 13 it was basically storage and a bed on wheels, so it necessitated doing everything outdoors. Everything. Not for the squeamish, that’s for sure. But as former backpackers, we were prepared with the skills needed for that lifestyle.



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Glad you liked this. Yes, I’d also thought about downsizing to a 13′ fiberglass egg as they share a lot in common with teardrops. Sounds like you had fun in yours and that’s what’s most important!



  19. Terri on October 20, 2018 at 4:16 am

    I love how open and honest you are, Becky. I have to admit, I would love to live in a teardrop eventually. Can’t do it while living with cats, though. So maybe when they are gone and it’s just me and the small pups. 🙂

    Life is too short to live it other than the way that makes you happy. So glad you are following your heart, staying positive and living life the way you want, not the way others say it should be done.

    Thanks also for the reference to your friends’ website. Gonna bookmark it for my future use!
    Terri recently posted..I’m Back – Still Finding My WayMy Profile



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      It’s a hard lesson to learn: that you can’t please everyone. So I aim to please myself and be as authentic about my journey as possible to attract the people who get me and will find value in what I write. 🙂

      Congrats on taking your transcribing biz full-time! And yes, Camp Addict is a great resource.



  20. Cary Lindley on October 20, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Becky I have been following you for a few years now and love how minimalistic you have become. I admire you for how you are enjoying life and keeping things simple… Have you read the book “Walden on Wheels” by Ken Ilgunas.. I think you might enjoy his work… Please take care and stay safe.. Cary



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Glad to hear that you’re still enjoying IO Cary. And no, I haven’t heard of that book before. I’ll add it to my ‘to read’ list.



  21. Milly on October 19, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    I, also, don’t shower in my RV and only shower once a week. It’s tough to admit it to normies, but you really don’t get that dirty/smelly. I couldn’t do what you’re doing. I need my Glamper. When you get older you may need to go back to something with more amenities for health reasons. My knees alone would prevent me crawling into that thing.

    You probably already answer this somewhere, but do you have a water tank?



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      I definitely don’t anticipate I’ll be living in the Hiker the rest of my life. New desires and dreams will arise I’m sure – we’re always changing and evolving as people and our needs and wants evolve along with. 🙂

      Nope, no water tank in the Hiker. I carry 1 gallon water jugs that can be filled up almost anywhere. I actually have these from the Casita since I didn’t drink water from my fresh tank.



  22. Suzi on October 19, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Good job on the post Becky. I know many people “worry” about these things for us minimalistic campers. I have a Casita now, so really not so minimal, yet I still get lots of questions, as I’m sure you can imagine.

    We thought about a teardrop of sorts long and hard before settling on the Casita. We were not wanting to cook in inclement weather, and secondly, with diet restrictions (by choice for health & lifestyle reasons) we wanted to be able to cook hot healthy meals inside if need be. I’m not adverse to a long weekend of (prior) camping (tent) and having to rough it outside to cook in the cold or rain, but for full-time living, we settled on more indoor space in case of bad weather. Plus there are two of us, unlike a single camper, and we’d really be hard pressed for room in a teardrop together. I am a firm believer that you live out of your camper, not IN it. Still, being sick, or maybe housebound with a storm, there isn’t much room in yours for two adults to be able to claim “space”. Ha Ha.

    I do like the flexibility a teardrop such as your Hiker offers, and it’s off-road capabilities though. Although the Casita is small and light, and can go just about anywhere, it’s not going to be as agile as the teardrop. And you are right, in that it has “systems” that can be fussy and need to be maintained that your new camper does not. Overall, I think it’s super important for each person to really think about what they intend to use the camper for, and where, before making their decision on what to purchase. Bottom line, we all have different needs.

    Thanks again for a super post! Suzi. : )



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      I’m glad the Casita is working well for you two Suzi. You’re absolutely right that with a smaller home, you live out of it, not in it. I spend a good portion of my day not in the Hiker. And yes, RVing is a very individualized activity. No two people will do it the same way. 🙂



  23. Ava on October 19, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I recently downsized and moved into my travel trailer but I don’t think I could ever live as simply as you do! The article was both interesting and entertaining.
    Ava recently posted..Notes from an RV Newbie’s First Weekend on the RoadMy Profile



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Ava, and congrats on your new travel trailer!



  24. Marshall on October 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    A six gallon water heater seemed to be big enough whenever you borrowed my shower. 😜



    • Becky on October 20, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      Yeah I can make it work, but that makes a shower a chore, not something enjoyable! 😛



  25. Doc on October 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    What’s the solution for heat in the camper?



Have practical RVing advice and inspirational travel stories sent straight to your inbox.

Your email is safe with me and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.