Here are the Two Cheapest ways to get a Hot Shower while on the road.
Since I prefer being clean and showering everyday, I’m always looking out for a shower. I’m a little picky that way and here is the easiest way to maintain good personal hygiene while on the road.
The cheapest showers can usually be found at campgrounds. Surprisingly, most campgrounds I have come across are Free. And, you don’t have to stay at the campground in order to use them. Just in case they are coin operated, be sure to keep a few coins in your personal hygiene bag at all times. Oh, and keep this in mind…Most showers are closed between noon – 2pm for cleaning purposes.
The 2nd cheapest place I have found is in small communities & towns with public swimming pools. When you approach the front counter, be sure to let the front staff know that you are a traveler who is just passing through and only looking for a hot shower. They will give you the “Traveler’s Discount” which is quite cheap. So, how do you find the public pools in small towns? Easy! While you are entering the town, go the the Visitor Center, they’ll be more than happy to guide you.
There are other methods of maintaining good personal hygiene and I’d love to hear about your experiences, please leave a comment below!
Don’t you just hate it when you wake up in the middle of the night and really, really have to go pee, but just outside there’s a bear walking around only a few feet away? sigh.. It was going to be a long night…. I knew I shouldn’t have drank so much water before bed….sigh
Thank-goodness the bear left sooner rather than later, I was relieved in more ways than one.
But when you’re standing there in the dark, all by yourself, every little noise is amplified and you can’t wait until you’re back in the van…. sigh…you start talking to yourself, “geez, how much water did I drink?”, “Come on, hurry up”, “Ugh, this is taking forever.” Noises coming from the forest, messing with your mind. And what you don’t see is a squirrel saying to another squirrel, “Watch this guy jump”, as he purposely lifts his foot up and then stomps on a twig, *SNAP!*, while you’re trying to pee, but you can’t run during mid-stream…you could, but the never ends well.
That morning, although I was still recovering from yesterday’s Attack of the Tin full of Cookies, I still managed to enjoy the cozy comforts of sleeping in the newly converted camper van.
With no time schedule to be any where, it was only 5:30am, but I still felt compelled to get out of the bed and start my day. It was only plus 3 degrees outside, my nose was frozen and I was dreading the next step of getting up…. putting on cold clothes. It’s funny, because no matter how fast you are jumping out of bed and racing to put your clothes on to keep warm, your clothes are still the same….cold! It’s like you’re trying to trick the cold into being warm because you’re so fast. Nope, not going to happen.
Looking around and making sure no bears where around, it was time to boil water for my tea. I’ve always enjoyed my morning cup of tea, and its more enjoyable when you can relax and take in the beauty of nature. That’s when I saw…. the squirrel ! He was back to torment me more, I just know it! But I gave him a stern look and shook my fist in his direction and he took off. I sure showed him.
I’m always dreaming and looking for ways to be creative, live & travel cheap.
For now, let’s figure out the How to Build a Camper Van Conversion, Cheap!
Here’s what I discovered along the journey…
I was doing research into camper van conversions, particularly by those who actually use theirs on a regular basis. I will say, there are tons of people doing it, not just in Canada, but throughout the entire world. Lot’s of information, ideas and experiences out there to be discovered! You can always start by looking at what others have done throughPinterest
If you do plan on looking further into it, you’ll be bombarded with TONS of options: Campers, Pull-behinds, Vans, Cube Vans, Panel Vans, Mini to Full size School Bus Conversions, RV’s, Tear-drop trailers, Gypsy Style Wagons, etc… (too many to list) There are many beautifully well done conversions out there.
People are not only using their van conversions for camping & holidays. In reality, I’ve discovered people living full-time out of their vehicles throughout Canada, USA, and Worldwide. Some live out their vehicle by choice, financial reasons, or just to be able to travel long term. There are some very creative and ingenious ways of doing so. Also, if you live in BC or any other major city that is financially suppressing its people… Believe it or not, you have probably drove passed a “Stealth Camper” without realizing it, but that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s get back to the Cheap camper van conversion build…
Start off with this in mind – “Experiences over Possessions”, “Wants vs. Needs” and “Spend Less to Do More!”. This camper van conversion build definitely demonstrates those mantras. Obviously my needs and wants are different than yours, however, maybe this will get you thinking in a direction that is right for you.
I had been watching Craig’s List and other similar websites for a good used van that I could convert into a makeshift camper van. It took a few months of patients but I found one….
Port Hardy – A Playground of Wilderness Activities Northern East Side of Vancouver Island BC
Although there are only 2 ways you can get to the island, Airplane or Boat, there are several routes to choose from.
After traveling by ferry to Nanaimo, you can take Highway 19 north to Port Hardy, which is the fastest way by vehicle, approx. 4 1/2 hour drive.
However, the more scenic route is following Highway 19a north as far as it will go, which is to Campbell River. From there, you’ll end up on Hwy 19 and continue on your way to Port Hardy. I prefer this route for its scenic drive and the small communities to explore along the way. It’s a much slower paced drive, but worth it. Have your camera handy!
Located on the most Northern East side of Vancouver Island BC, the community of Port Hardy sits along the ocean’s edge. It’s a population of approx. 4000 people which more than doubles during the summer months with tourists who want to experience the island’s many outdoor activities, i.e. Hiking, Whale Watching, Kayaking, Diving, Camping, Wild Life and much more.
One of the first things you should do is head to the Visitor Information Centre, located on the main road. You’ll discover a vast array of information that will guide you during your stay. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get their opinions, its well worth it.
Port Hardy is also represented by the nearby community of Fort Rupert & Kwakiutl First Nation. The Kwakiutl are known for their carvings, especially their magnificent totem poles. I’ll be writing more on the Kwakiutl shortly, however check out the photos I capturedso far – Kwakiutl: A Visual Experience
There are hiking trails in the immediate and surrounding area, but one of the most rugged and challenging hiking trails that attracts people from All Over the World to Port Hardy is the Cape Scott Trail / North Coast Trail – it will ultimately test your skill, endurance and exploration for days on end. In order to get to the start of the trail, a boat will shuttle you to Cape Scott and from there…. you’re on your own.
During the early spring when the ice and snow is melting, there are sections of the trail that are very hazardous and it should not be attempted due to the flooding and impassible sections. For example…
I met Gabriel, a solo hiker from Paris France, who survived 2 days on the trail and had to turn back for safety reasons. He had been hiking in a section that is not recommended during the spring thaw because of the waist deep freezing water that floods part the trail on the most northern east section. He was completely drenched from the waist down, cold, and would have been stuck for several days in this environment. Lucky for him he was able to get out and return safely.
Vivian, a solo hiker of the Netherlands, decided not to try the trail, due to the flooding.
As you can tell, If you’re going to test yourself on this amazingly beautiful trail that is world renown, plan accordingly. Also note that you are in bear country, don’t take the warning lightly. Be aware and be safe.
Where to Stay – There are a couple hotels in Port Hardy, but the more popular places to stay is either the local hostel – North Coast Trail Hostel, or the many camping sites. Book ahead of time!
Although I happen to know the owners of the North Coast Trail Hostel , I promise to give you my unbiased opinion. The owners are super friendly! The hostel is very clean, comfortable and very well maintained. Its also much bigger than any pictures I’ve seen of it. You won’t be disappointed. There is a coffee / tea shop to get to know other travellers of all ages, share your stories, ideas, and a few laughs.
A couple interesting facts …..
According to www.tourismvi.ca & www.visitporthardy.com – The “First currently known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island as discovered in an archeological dig in Port Hardy, dates back to circa 5850 BC”
The Carrot Campaign – Historical Site
Located right beside the Visitor Information Centre, a huge wooden carrot with a sign describing how the Government made a promise is 1897, but didn’t follow through until the late 1970’s. The community felt that the government was dangling a carrot in front of them for all those years.
The other day I received an email with a few questions, one of which I wanted to share with you.
The reader asked the following: (Regarding over night or longer trips)
Q: “Of all the equipment and gear you have used, what are a couple things you consistently take with you that others may not even consider?”
Besides the general stuff of a backpack, camera, water and a granola bar, there are 2 other things that I always make sure to pack:
The First is my hand-written journal. While out on an adventure, I try to write in it every night or every other night recapping the days events. I don’t want to forget some of the amazing experiences or details that I wish to share with you.
The Second item I consistently take with me is my emergency blanket, you know the silver one that sounds like tinfoil when you wrap yourself with it. I’ve used it more than a few times. I actually had to use during my kayaking adventure one night. It made for a great barrier between my water logged air mattress and my sleeping bag.
Whether you’re a day-tripper or an over night adventurer, I encourage you to journal about your day. You’re future self will thank you for it!
I located some great deals on Journals & Emergency Blankets
through Amazon to get you started:
Well, now that my second tent pole had broke the night before, and there are no trees for my hammock, I was stuck to sleeping like this…
Of course that is just asking for critters to crawl on you during the middle of the night. That’s exactly what happened, ugh!
The calm and peacefulness of the middle of the night was ever-so-slightly shattered by the guy in the broken tent, kicking and screaming (in the most masculine way of course), “What the heck was that!?”. You’d think David would have appreciated my quick response to assess and then defuse a stressful situation, but nooooo. The whites of his eyes lit up the inside of his tent and he was now wide awake, a little disorientated but wide awake none the less, “What, what, what’s wrong!?”. I calmly informed him, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.“
The next morning the beach was filled with sand crabs that only came in one size…and there were hundreds of them!
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We had entered The Gulf of Mexico at Panama City, where the water was warm, incredibly blue and clear! Although we had the waves to contend with, they weren’t as big or powerful as the last time in Destin.
With David between the shore and myself, we weren’t even 10 min into The Gulf when a 15 foot shark swam right underneath me!
Pointing at it and letting David casually know we had company with my high pitched masculine scream, “Shark!”, he turned to me and said, “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine!”
I looked at the shark, I looked at David, I looked at the shark, I looked at David and yelled, “When was the last time you read anywhere in the same paragraph the words “shark” and “you’ll be fine” !?”. That’s when I noticed David paddling faster and heading to the shore and then realized he was only taking to himself when he said, “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine.”….. geez.
I felt like I was sitting in a giant yellow fishing lure, which was about to become a horizontal port-a-potty.
The shark eventually swam away and that was the last I saw of him….only because from there on in… I stopped looking down into the water.