What are the options for staying clean and—er—regular in your van? Read through this infosheet to find out. Then complete our When Nature Calls Checklist.
Toilet Features: To Poo or Not to Poo?
At home, we don’t often think about where we’ll go to the bathroom next… but in a van, bathroom duties like where to go and how to keep clean are a hot topic.
To answer this most personal of questions, you’ll need to take a look at what you need to feel comfortable.
You might be surprised to learn that toilets are an option for a van. Converted vans can have elaborate bathrooms, with hot showers, flushing toilets, and a vanity for your makeup. As with all things van, the features you add are entirely up to you.
The advantages of having a toilet on board are obvious: you can go to the bathroom whenever you need to in the privacy of your own “home.” No hoping there’s a gas station nearby or searching for a place to dig. The downsides? Like all features, toilets take up space in your van – plus someone
We have several solutions to this problem. The two most common toilet types for vanlife are composting toilets and cassette toilets. Both are relatively easy to empty and, if used properly, are low odor. At Levity Vans, we don’t install black water tanks, which are required if you want to install a flushing toilet. We’ve found that most
The Levity Lifestyle comes with a composting toilet, standard.
Cassette toilets look like a two-foot square plastic box with a lid when they’re not in use. But lift the lid and you’ll find a toilet seat that leads to a secure several-gallon holding tank. When you need to go, flip a valve to open the several-gallon tank below. Liquid and solid waste
Cassette toilets are a good choice for
A word of caution: while we’ve used cassette toilets in the past, we’ve found most models lack the longevity we value. This is why we include composting toilets in our builds, rather than a cassette.
Composting toilets look more like typical toilets from the outside, only made of durable plastic. They use sawdust and ventilation to dry poo out and keep it from smelling. It’s essential to keep liquid and solid waste separate in a composter. They include a nifty system of valves to accomplish this. When peeing, open the front valve and close the back one. Pee only collects in a tank you empty into a toilet. When pooing, open the back valve and add sawdust when you’re done. When the liner is full, tie it up and throw it out.
Many of our Levity Local and DIY customers choose to forgo the toilet and utilize public toilets and lands for their bathroom needs. Other customers use a designated pee bucket and find somewhere else to poo.
We traveled with two kids for three weeks with no toilet and no problems. Use public toilets or go outside.
Keep it minimal
Avoid the hassle of emptying your toilet
You must be comfortable waiting when necessary or going outside
A dry system that uses ventilation and sawdust. Empty the bag when it’s full into a garbage can.
Looks and feels most like a standard toilet
Cover poo with sawdust to keep it from smelling
When it's full, remove the liner and toss it
Store waste in a small tank under the toilet seat. When it’s full, dump the contents down a public toilet.
Low on space? Use a compact cassette toilet
Fully self-contained, they can cleanly tuck into cabinets or under beds
Discreetly dump it into a public toilet when it gets full
Bathroom Options: Inclosed or “Around the Van”
Where will you store your bathroom features? You can store them in a dedicated bathroom or you can stash them around your van to save on space.
There are two main options for where to store bathroom features:
- Inside an enclosed bathroom
- Around the van
An enclosed bathroom means you have a dedicated toilet/shower area with a door and walls—an official bathroom! “Around the van” means your bathroom features are tucked in spaces around your van—for example, a toilet stored in a cabinet on a slider or an outdoor shower that attaches to a hot or cold water spigot at the back of your van.
Due to our own design preferences, neither of our flagship designs includes an enclosed bathroom or indoor shower. If you want one of those, you’ll need to go for the custom Levity Legend – or DIY your van to your own specs.
If you want the feel of a traditional bathroom while on the road, an enclosed bathroom is for you. You can use the toilet, shower, and wash up at the sink in private. We offer many space saving options when it comes to shower pans and bathroom designs.
When it comes to convenience, a dedicated bathroom area receives top marks. For some, an enclosed bathroom makes the van feel like home.
However, enclosed bathrooms also have major drawbacks. They take up valuable real estate inside your van and they are expensive to install. Plus, based on what our customers tell us, the majority of van lifers end up using them as storage closets. We say skip it and give yourself more storage and a nice outdoor shower.
We suggest you consider all the other features you want to put into your van to determine if you have the desire, space, and budget for an enclosed bathroom.
Advantages of an enclosed bathroom:
- Always set up and ready to use
Cons of an enclosed bathroom:
- Takes up van space
- Drainage and venting requires some monitoring
- More expensive to install
“Around the Van” Bathrooms
You may not realize that you can store many bathroom features around the van in space you otherwise wouldn’t use. Cassette toilets, for example, are designed to be compact and completely self-contained. The kitchen sink can double as a bathroom sink—and its nozzle can also turn into your outdoor shower when it’s pulled out the back or side of the van. Even indoor showers can fit around the van in unexpected places!
Pros of storing features around the van:
- Frees up space for other features
- Less expensive to install
- Less to worry about in terms of having standing water and steam in the van
- Less privacy
- Less convenient
Check out the schematics for the Levity Lifestyle to see how we’ve done the bathroom.
Have all your bathroom features stored in one place, including toilet, shower, and bathroom sink.
Convenient and safe: use the bathroom in private
A dedicated bathroom area takes up valuable floorspace
Use your kitchen sink to brush your teeth. Store your toilet in a cabinet. Put a shower pan and a plastic curtain in the kitchen.
Frees up space for other features that are more important to you
Can give the van a more open feel
Shower Features: Staying Clean on the Road
When it comes to keeping clean, there are a few considerations: shower or no shower? Hot water or cold water?
The Levity Lifestyle comes with an outdoor shower off the back of the van.
DIYing your van? Your indoor sink nozzle can double as a showerhead: extend it, pop it into a clip mounted on your van, and voila—instant shower.
Some of our designs include a separate tap to that back of your van that’s just for showering or spraying off wetsuits, dogs, kids, etc. Your outdoor shower can be hot or cold, depending on your feature preference and budget. A shower curtain can attach to the outside of your van, giving you some privacy.
Pros of outdoor showers:
- Leaves more space in your van for other features
- Nice view!
Cons of outdoor showers:
- Less privacy than an indoor shower
Find places to bathe on the road: rivers, friends’ houses, gyms, or hotels. Baby wipes are key.
If you want to stay clean and keep costs down, install an outdoor shower that uses unheated water.
Outdoor shower nozzles attach to the outside of your van, often out the back
Use heated or unheated water
Having some type of water storage is a game changer, allowing you to wash hands and bodies more easily.
Fill your water tank off any hose
Water will come of of the faucet at "room temperature"
If comfort is at the top of your priority list, consider an indoor shower with hot water.
Feels more like "home." Private and convenient
You don't need an enclosed bathroom to have an indoor shower!
Hot Water On Board
Sometimes, you need a hot shower. And sometimes you need a hot shower every morning…
For extended travel, hot water can make a van feel like home
Can be plumbed to your kitchen sink and your shower
The Levity Local
Sleek and functional while still warm and beautiful, the Local has the essentials you need without the extras you don’t. It’s perfect for:
- The adventure-minded who use their van for outdoor recreation
- Those who want a sleepable travel van on a tighter budget
Removable bed system / Solar electric / Full insulation and ventilation / Waterproof floor / L-track to secure gear / + Add features like kitchen galley, outdoor shower, cabin heat, & more
$45K average price
+ or – features to fit your lifestyle and budget
The Levity Lifestyle
This home-on-wheels makes spontaneous adventuring a breeze. Just pack up your stuff and leave your life behind – while taking all the comforts of home with you.
- Part-time adventurers who value comfort and ease
- Glampers and festival-goers who want to upgrade from a tent to a tiny home
- Full-time travelers whose van is their dream home
Queen bed / Full kitchen / Indoor dining / Outdoor shower / Composting toilet / Cabinets / Solar power / Robust electrical system to power appliances / + Add features like hot water, indoor bathroom, rooftop deck, & more
$95K average price
+ or – features to fit your lifestyle and budget
You’re kicking a** and building your dream van – but need just a little help with the features beyond your skillset. Or you’re stuck trying to figure out how it will all fit together, and it’s been a few months (or years) – and you need help.
We install one-off features for DIYers and offer hourly consultation to take your project from stress to success.
Windows / Vent fans/ Electrical work / Solar / Cabin & water heaters / Flares / Seats / Swivels / Project consultation & more
Priced per project
The Levity Legend
Bring your unique vision to life with our fully custom option, the Legend. The sky is the limit. We partner with you from start to finish as we design and execute your masterpiece. Best suited for:
Vanlife connoisseurs who want the ultimate adventure vehicle
Business van uses like mobile offices or kitchens
Those with unique recreation needs
Fully custom / Your unique design / Get exactly what you want / Create a legend / Our most extensive and expensive option
Time & Materials
Due to the extensive nature of custom work, this is our most extensive and expensive option.
If budget is a top concern, we advise selecting the Local or the Lifestyle.
How do you decide what’s right for you?
Our three biggest tips as you’re dreaming about your van:
- Do your research
- Know what you want
- Know your budget
This sets you up for success because you’ll know what features you need and which ones you don’t. You’ll end up with a van that works for you and your lifestyle – not anyone else’s. Because that’s what vanlife is all about – freedom to be yourself, travel on your own terms, and enjoy the natural world without the typical hassles of camping or limitations of RVs.
We’ll build a van that works for you.
“When Nature Calls” Checklist
🚽Do you want a toilet on board?
- Cassette toilet
- Composing toilet
- No toilet
🚿Do you want a shower on board?
- Indoor shower
- Outdoor shower
- No shower
🚰Do you want water on board?
- Unheated water
- Hot water
- No water
🚻Do you want an enclosed bathroom on board?
❓What other bathroom features are you considering?
- We want to hear about them!