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
* 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.]