10 places to take a shower on tour… and we’ve actually tried #7

July 18, 2014{ 28 Comments }

mud BJ blue Mike Tre gree 10 places to take a shower on tour... and weve actually tried #75 serious suggestions, and 5 more if you’re really desperate

How many days can you go on tour without showering? Three, seven, fourteen? The answer probably has as much to do with your bandmates’ tolerance for funk as it does with your own hygiene preferences. Yes, you can Febreze your jeans and steal a fresh t-shirt from your merch booth when things get rough, but one thing is certain: every band has its breaking point — and when you’ve hit your limit, you need to find a shower, and quickly.

Sometimes your tour itinerary will provide you with some obvious shower opportunities. Other times you’re in a van racing through the middle of nowhere, counting billboard signs for The Thing or coming up with your set list for the next show, and you have no idea where you’ll find a good bath on such short notice.

Here’s a list of options for both the careful planners and those prone to B.O. emergencies

1. Truck stops — Did you know you can rent a shower and/or toilet room at many truck stops? Check out this page on the Pilot Flying J site for a list of cities where rental showers are available. It’ll cost you about $12, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping your bandmates from tossing you out of a moving vehicle.

2. Day rooms — If you’re renting a hotel for the night, well that’s a no-brainer. Take a shower, fool! But even if it’s not in the budget to get a hotel in each town, you can still rent many hotel rooms at “day room” rates, meaning you’ll have access to a room for a couple hours to shower, nap, get dressed, and get out. Not every hotel offers this service, but it’s worth asking. The hotel can make some cash off the room, clean it after you’ve gone, and rent it to someone else for the night.

3. Sprinklers — Driving through a neighborhood with beautifully manicured lawns? Keep circling around until you find a house where the sprinklers are running. If no sprinklers are turned on, go grab the garden hose and crank that faucet yourself.  Strip, streak, and go stand in that cool stream of water. Scrub quick. Rinse and run.

4. Airports — Many bigger airports have added day rooms and shower rooms that can be rented by the hour. In some airports (like in Atlanta) you can get a $50 day pass to the SkyClub which will allow you to shower, get drinks and food, and have a place to relax with wifi. If you’re touring by van, airports might not be the wisest option (unless you want to contend with parking and airport security), but for some of my friends who tour by plane — with little time between gigs — an airport shower every few days can remind you that you’re a civilized human being.

5. Public fountains — Access your inner 8-yr-old and jump in one of those fountains in a park, square, or mall. Collect the coins at the bottom to help pay the meter. Also, Instagram! Also, post a lookout! Also, take an actual shower afterwards because that’s just NASTY!

6. YMCA’s and health clubs — Fitness centers and yoga studios often have cheap drop-in/day rates. Get your Downward Dog on, take a swim in the pool, or just head straight to the facilities and wash away your filth. (Actually, if you’re that filthy, you should shower first… and then again after working out, yoga, swimming, etc.)

7. Rain — It’s not just for plants. If it starts raining, and I mean REALLY raining, pull the van over. If you’re indoors, get outside. Make some use of that lonely bar of Irish Spring.

8. A fan’s house — No, I’m not suggesting you “go home with” one of your fans simply to use their bathroom, though I do know a couple bands that’ve made a bad habit of such practices. Instead, just be honest; put it out there (maybe when you’re talking to fans at the merch booth or bar) that you’re looking for a quick place to shower before heading to your next gig. While putting a whole band up for the night might sound intimidating or undoable for most fans, lots of people would probably be happy to have you over for an hour or two while everyone in the band gets clean.

9. Local swimming hole — Ah, nature! Barton Springs, anyone?

10. Locker rooms — Are you playing at a school or prison? Relive all the awkwardness of a junior high gym glass with your bandmates.

Tour shower essentials:

* flip flops

* bar of soap

* towel

* bucket/sponge

* talcum powder

* cheap cologne samples from Walgreens

—-

What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever showered on tour? How long have you gone without showering? Let us know in the comments below.

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[Photo of Green Day by ZUMA Archive/ZUMA Press. (©) Copyright 1994 by ZUMA Archive.]

  • http://joematzzie.com/ Joe Matzzie

    I showered at a homeless shelter once in Philly, before a Tin Angel gig. My gig bag was right there next to me between the shower stall and the sink

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      That’s one I’ve not heard. Thanks for sharing.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Ian Bruce

    waterless shampoo & body wash from cvs for around $7. and a liquid soap body wash –by gilette– is better than soap. and baby or adult wipes will work also

    • http://members.cdbaby.com/ CD Baby

      Ah. Good tips!

  • kylatilley

    The international YMCA pass is a touring musician’s best friend. While on tour you can work out, swim, shower, sauna etc. Some Ys even have massage therapy options. If you can’t afford the pass, the Y will subsidize your membership, and pretty much any town that has a venue for touring musicians to play at, has a YMCA.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Good tip. Thanks for commenting.

      @ChrisRobley

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Good tip. Thanks for commenting.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Rob

    As a trucker, I can vouch for the showers at the larger truck stop chains. You can get one free shower with every 50 to 75 gals of diesel fuel purchased at one time. All of them provide clean towels and washcloths, and most also provide decent soap. Many of the showers are nicer than what you’d see at your own house, too. We are “on tour” for weeks at a time (for me, it is my current way of life), and we are able to stay clean.

    Aside from Pilot and Flying J (these are part of the same company), there’s also the following:

    * TA (Travel Centers of America) and Petro, which are also together;
    * Love’s (the busier ones will have long waits);
    * Wilco-Hess (not one I use much, but they’re OK)
    * Ambest (these are indie truck stops in an NFP organization);
    …and a few other small but nice regional chains.

    Showers are $10 to $13 without fuel purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask truckers if they can spare a shower credit for you; trade a CD for a shower, if the trucker is a fan. Many of us build shower credits up on different cards with different chains. If you call the chains yourself, you might also be able to work out a deal for your touring company, provided you’re buying fuel for your vehicles.

  • Rob

    As a trucker, I can vouch for the showers at the larger truck stop chains. You can get one free shower with every 50 to 75 gals of diesel fuel purchased at one time. All of them provide clean towels and washcloths, and most also provide decent soap. Many of the showers are nicer than what you’d see at your own house, too. We are “on tour” for weeks at a time (for me, it is my current way of life), and we are able to stay clean.

    Aside from Pilot and Flying J (these are part of the same company), there’s also the following:

    * TA (Travel Centers of America) and Petro, which are also together;
    * Love’s (the busier ones will have long waits);
    * Wilco-Hess (not one I use much, but they’re OK)
    * Ambest (these are indie truck stops in an NFP organization);
    …and a few other small but nice regional chains.

    Showers are $10 to $13 without fuel purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask truckers if they can spare a shower credit for you; trade a CD for a shower, if the trucker is a fan. Many of us build shower credits up on different cards with different chains. If you call the chains yourself, you might also be able to work out a deal for your touring company, provided you’re buying fuel for your vehicles.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      That’s great additional info. Thanks so much for commenting.

      @ChrisRobley

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      That’s great additional info. Thanks so much for commenting.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Jess

    I know guys probably don’t want to be seen with them but make up remover wipes are so much better than baby wipes and they don’t leave you smelling like your Momna just helped clean you.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Haha. Good to know.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Jess

    I know guys probably don’t want to be seen with them but make up remover wipes are so much better than baby wipes and they don’t leave you smelling like your Momna just helped clean you.

  • http://www.kayte.com Kayte

    Hello Everyone! I’d like to anoint myself as the Queen Of Hardcore Showering, all in fun, of course. But everyone who knew me on the “circuit” from 1995 through 2011 would herald me as the Hardest Working Woman (Idiot) In Show Business. I’ll let you be the judge. My first 4 years I toured living in a Dodge Ram Van, and showering had it’s challenges. I first tried hanging a blue tarp over the side doors when they were open, and would shower with a gallon jug of water that I would refill a rest stops. That made for a sort of outdoorsy, square, tent-like port-a-shower, as long as there wasn’t much wind to blow the tarp down. I used those hardware clamps you find a Lowe’s to help secure the tarp to the doors and roof rack.

    While crossing the US for the first time, I performed at a festival in Boulder Colorado, where a beautiful and ICE COLD stream ran through the park. I hiked upstream a ways, and started shampooing my hair kneeling at the water’s edge. I then realized that soap suds were everywhere, floating down towards the festival, and perhaps the festival promoters and the nature lovers weren’t going to like my polluting that stream, but I did get away with it. Only a few curious people hiked upstream to figure out where the suds were coming from and stared.

    One night I realized I was parked next to a golf course, and the sprinklers came on, so I ran out naked in the middle of the night to bathe in them. One of the houses next to the course had motion detection lights, so I had to conclude my shower rather quickly.

    Once I simply pulled over along a road that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and started bathing, nestled in the trees in the dark. Suddenly a car came out of nowhere, headlights pointed straight at me, buck naked! Some deserted place that was!

    Once I washed myself in the pool of a hotel that I wasn’t staying in. I climbed over the fence to get in. I felt really weird when the maids came out and saw me dying off in the sun, reading a book in a lounge chair, the pool filled with soap suds. Luckily again, no one said anything to me.

    The stupidest thing I ever did was dry myself using some big fuzzy leaves from a nearby tree. The tree was poison Ivy. I need not say any more.

    At the crazy-big 400,000 people Ann Arbor Art Show mid-July in Michigan, you can shower at the YMCA for just a few bucks. And don’t forget that there rec centers that let you take a class like Water Aerobics for $2 here in Tennessee, and you can shower afterwards. Stay clean, and in shape!

    I then figured out (!) that showering in a bikini was the safest and most secure way to shower outdoors. I would leave my gallon jug in the sun on the dashboard all day while performing, then when I got back to my car I’d lather myself up with small amounts of soap and water, washing my more “sensitive areas” while turned inward toward an open car door. I got really good at “Nordic Showering” which was showering outdoors at temperatures below 50 degrees. You can take a gallon jug and go into a convenience store and heat the water in their microwaves until the water is HOT. I always bought something from them just to “pay” for the convenience and to keep the good karma going.

    One shower I could always count on was the beach shower on A1A at Juno Beach, Florida. It was ice cold but it was fun to lather up at sunset while all the tanned tourists and locals walked or rode their bikes by me.

    I have showered many times in a specific unnamed airport parking lot. I learned from security (who all knew me by name after so many years of going in & out and leaving my car there full of expensive gear–hey–what safer place is there after 9/11?) that they love to watch all kinds of things being performed in cars and I wasn’t nearly as interesting as some things they’d seen performed in cars (!) So they left me alone in the parking lot when I would spent the night sleeping in the bunk of my van to catch the 6am flight. I gave them all my Cd’s as gifts. It used to be $3 a night for a safe place to shower and park there on a Sunday night, on my way home via Southwest Airlines for $45 one-way.

    Yes, I’ve showered in many a Pilot and Flying J. They went from $4 to $5 to $7–who knows what they are now? But what a better thrill to shower in the far corner of a Publix parking lot in Lady Lake, Florida. Somehow the idea of spending $0 to feel fresh and clean became the holy grail of penny-pinching. ( I got the tight-wad attitude from my depression-era Dad.) And using real water felt SOOO good after performing all day, especially in the hot months (which includes March through November in Florida). Baby wipes just don’t come close, and they aren’t cheap.

    Now, to my credit, I did finally buy a nice 30′ Class C RV to tour in as I started doing really well financially. It even had an outdoor shower as one of its perks. Back then $40 would get you an upscale hotel from Priceline. Those were the good old days. But when CD sales plummeted and the crash of 2007 screwed up everyone’s pocketbooks, it was back to touring small, this time in a Ford Focus. I have such fond memories of showering in the middle of a beautiful coastal field overlooking the harbor at the Gloucester Waterfront Festival in 2010, one of my last outdoor bathing suit showers. Some of the artists would see me and smile in that all-knowing way, that some of us were not only born to be gypsies, but we thrive on it.

    I’ve heard there are new tactics springing up all the time. I think someone should make an ap, like the Rideshare thing. Showershare!

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Wow. You’re quite the seasoned showerer! Thanks for sharing the many stories.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Gordon N. Oklahoma

    State Parks and National Parks. Cheap and clean.

  • Some Guy

    I used to just find any hotel or apartment complex with an outdoor pool and use their shower; sometimes they even had an open bathroom so I could get a little privacy but they almost all had the outdoor rinse shower..during winter months in some states I had to hop some fences… I also used to pull up to random hotels that offered free breakfast and just join the other guests for some free grub.. Also, YMCA was mentioned above; it’s a good idea to get a membership at a gym with multiple locations, especially a 24/7 gym like Anytime Fitness.. $30 a month is a heckuva lot cheaper than the $50-100 a day that hotels cost.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      That’s a great point. Thanks!

      @ChrisRobley

  • Patricia Shannon

    Use the shower at public swimming pools.

  • HowieWest

    Many provincial campgrounds here in Ontario have public showers you can use for free by purchasing a daily vehicle pass (usually $12-$20). Everyone in the van gets to shower for one low price. I’ve also seen similar setups in many national and state parks in the USA.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Oh, that’s a good addition. Thanks.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Greg Perryman

    I’ve gone 2 weeks, but I’m lucky I don’t have much of a problem with B. O. Even when I’ve been all sweaty and then cooled down. (My Wife can back me up on this)

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      You — and those around you — are blessed. ; )

      @ChrisRobley

  • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for being honest. We’ll be more careful about those headlines for sure.

    @ChrisRobley

  • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

    Ha. Wow. Hopefully you “ended up” in a prison cell voluntarily. ; )
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    @ChrisRobley

    • http://frantic-naturalist.com/ Vernon Swanepoel

      It was voluntarily.

      No problem.

  • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

    Haha. That’s amazing.

    @ChrisRobley