Simple Van Life Toilet Options For Women That Men Can Use Too!

Are you wondering how you’ll go to the bathroom while living the van life?

There are several van toilet options to choose from. Whether you want to go minimalist or sit pretty on a potty there’s an option for you!

Peeing and pooping are necessary bodily functions that no one can escape.

In this article, I’ll share more details about your options and, hopefully, help alleviate your concerns about going to the bathroom while living and traveling in a van

The toilet options I’ll discuss are:

  • Public Restrooms
  • A Poop Bucket
  • A Pee Bottle
  • Luggable Loo
  • Porta Potty

Heads Up… this article contains referral links to products I use or recommend. I earn a referral fee from purchases made through these links. The earnings help keep the wheels rollin’!

Public Restrooms

If you tend to hang out where there are public restrooms close by you could forgo doing any of your business in the van.

This is a common bathroom option for many in the van-dwelling community. But this option requires an ability to hold it long enough to get to a public restroom.

Finding A Public Restroom

Public restrooms can most commonly be found at:

  • Rest Areas
  • Gas Stations
  • Fast Food Restaurants
  • Malls
  • City Parks

There’s An App For That!

There are free and paid apps for finding public restrooms. Android users can find apps in Google Play Store and Apple users can find them in the Apple Store.

Start by searching for public restrooms. You’ll find apps for specific cities and other for nationwide. Look for one that fits your needs.

If you use a public restroom as your primary van life toilet method, you’ll also want to have a backup plan. Check out the other options discussed below to see what might serve as a good backup for you.

The Bucket Method

Oh my gawd! Am I really telling you to poop in a bucket!?


Technically, it doesn’t have to be a bucket. It can be any type of container that you’re comfortable using as a toilet.

If you’re not comfortable pooping in a bucket and disposing of it, no worries. There are other options.

A bucket can be used as your regular van toilet or as a backup to the public restroom option.

How To Go To The Bathroom In A Bucket

This method works best for solids only (aka poop). However, if it trips your trigger, feel free to do both number 1 and number 2.

You simply line the bucket or container with TWO trash bags and do your business in it.

Two bags are used in case of leakage. You could also add several bags and be ahead of the game the next time nature calls.

When you’re finished, close the trash bag – with the goodies safely inside – and dispose of it in the trash. Whether you want to wrap the poop up in one bag or more bags is up to you.

Feeling Weird About Putting Your Poop In The Trash?

If you’re concerned about putting your doo-doo in the trash just think about what else is already lurking in the deep, dark recesses of the trash heap.

Landfills are mixed with plenty of:

  • Poopy baby diapers and messy baby wipes.
  • Doggie poop bags filled with friendly canine feces.
  • Kitty litter laced with cute cat crap.
  • Things you probably don’t want to know about.

As long as you wrap your crap up nicely and it isn’t oozing out it’s no different than any of the other crap-filled parcels lurking in the landfill.

Should You Use Kitty Litter In The Bucket?

There’s no need to use kitty litter, hamster bedding, cedar shavings or anything of that nature unless you have a desire to do so.

These things aren’t necessary if you’re doing your business and wrapping it up immediately afterwards.

These extra items take up prime space in the van. A van-dweller’s rule of thumb… everything in your van must be worthy of the space it takes up.

Making The Bucket Comfy To Sit On

To make sitting on a bucket more comfy on your tushy, you could place a pool noodle or pipe insulation around the rim of the bucket. You may need to tape it down so it stays secure.

Here are some guidelines for placing the pool noodles or pipe insulation around the bucket:

  • Pool noodles / pipe insulation are easy to cut with a regular knife.
  • The noodle will need a slit cut in it lengthwise so it fits over the edge of the bucket.
  • Then, wrap the noodle/pipe insulation around the bucket.
  • The noodle/insulation may need to be cut into smaller pieces to make it fit around the bucket.
  • Duck tape works wonders for keeping the noodle/insulation secure.

The plastic bag will go over top of the pool noodle so there’s no need to worry about it getting soiled.

Depending on the type of bucket you’re using, the HoneyBucket Toilet Seat is an alternative option for a seat (the seat fits most 3, 5 or 6 gallon bucket.

Luggable Loo – An Option For The Bucket

If you’d rather not make your own van toilet out of a bucket, pool noodles and duck tape you might find the Luggable Loo (or similar products) to be a good option.

The Luggable Loo comes in 2 parts:

  • Toilet seat
  • Five gallon bucket

You can buy the seat to use on your own bucket, or you can just get the bucket or both.

If you use the Luggable Loo for both liquid and solid waste, there are special bags with bio-gel that soak up any liquids. These bags are a convenience, not a necessity.

The bags can be used more than once but could get expensive if used as your regular van toilet. The bags would be great as a backup plan, though.

Peeing In A Bottle – Even If You’re A Lady!

Urinating in a bottle is easy if you’re a guy but (most) women can’t hit the hole without a little help.

That’s where the female pee funnel comes in (also referred to as a female urination device).

There are several female pee funnel options in various price ranges and they all work the same way…. hold the funnel in place, put the other end of the funnel in a bottle, do your business and, voila, you’re a lady peeing in a bottle!

For those who prefer it, there are also disposable funnels.

When needed, the urine can be disposed of in a public restroom, a vault toilet or where ever you are comfortable safely disposing of it.

The ability to pee in a bottle can come in handy. I know quite a few van-dwelling ladies who keep a pee funnel in their van toilet arsenal.

Porta-Potti – The Ultimate Van Toilet

A porta-potti is poo-pooed by many (pun intended) because they don’t want the hassle of dumping it or think it will smell.

If you want some of the creature comforts of a sticks-n-bricks home, a porta potti is the closest thing you’ll find to the porcelain-god.

A 5 gallon Thetford Porta Potti is what I chose for my van toilet.

When I set my van up to live in, I wanted to be able to do EVERYTHING from within my van. That included laundry, bathing, doing dishes AND going to the bathroom.

My biggest concerns with a portable toilet were:

  • Where to dump it
  • The smell

In hindsight, there was nothing to worry about.

Why I Chose A 5 Gallon Porta Potti Over a 2.5 Gallon Porta Potti

The smaller versions are cheaper but the reason I chose the 5 gallon version is because it stands the same height as a normal toilet. Not to mention it holds more “stuff” than the smaller version.

I try to dump the porta potti weekly but, if needed, I can go 2 weeks without having to worry about finding a place to dump the dump. This timeframe is just a guide. The length of time you can go before needing to dump will depend on your “potti needs”.

Finding Places To Dump A Porta-Potti

Finding places to empty the porta-potti wasn’t as hard as I imagined.

There are several options when it comes to dumping a porta potti:

  • Public restrooms.
  • A friend or family members house.
  • Vault toilets.
  • Campgrounds.
  • RV dump stations.

The only place I haven’t dumped my potty is in a public restroom. I don’t want to deal with hauling my 5 gallon tank in to a public place and being a spectacle.

If you prefer to dump your porta potti in a public restroom it can certainly be done.

I’ve used a family member’s house to empty my porta potti. It works well but, whether you use someone’s house or public toilets, you need to be wary of the back splash!

When dumping a porta potti in a regular toilet the back splash is real – no matter how careful you are! If you’re not careful, the back splash can bring a whole new meaning to the term $h!t faced!

Vault toilets are a great option! Vault toilets can be found in small, out of the way rest areas that don’t have plumbing, state parks and some city parks. There may be other places but these are the typical places I see them.

With a vault toilet there’s no back splash! If you want to rinse the porta potti tank, you’ll need to have your own water (a gallon jug of water will work).

If you don’t have the option to rinse the tank here or there it’s not a big deal. But I do suggest rinsing the tank every time you have the opportunity.

Campgrounds often allow non-registered campers to dump their tanks but it usually costs a fee.

The downside of using a campground to empty a porta potti is many campgrounds charge you the same fee as an RV with a 20 or 30 gallon tank.

In my several years on the road, I’ve only paid for a dump once and it cost me $10. It was a last resort because my porta potti was FULL TO THE RIM!

RV dump stations are found all across the United States and many of them are free!

I prefer dump stations because it’s easier and I don’t have to lug my (sometimes heavy) tank too far. Dump stations usually have rinse water and sometimes drinking water.

Once you get on the road you’ll find dump stations without even trying.

If you need a little help, there are many apps and websites for RV dump stations. The website I use 99.9% of the time is (it’s free to use).

Van Life Advice: Never fill your fresh water jugs from the rinse water hose at a dump station! It could be contaminated with poop. You don’t know where the person before you stuck the hose. The signs will tell you which IS drinkable (potable) water and what is NOT drinking water. The potable water will NOT be within reach of the sewer hole at a dump station.

Doesn’t The Poop Clog Up When You’re Dumping The Porta Potty?

To reduce the solids to liquid I use a product called Happy Camper RV Holding Tank Treatment.

This product can be purchased in various sizes. Only a small amount is needed for a porta-potti so I buy a smaller container and it lasts many months (I use about 1/4 scoop each time I empty the tank).

Reducing the solids to liquid form makes it easy to dump the porta potti.

The Happy Camper product label states “Odor Free” but it means the product is odor free. The product liquefies the poop – it does not make the poop odor free.

Handling Porta Potti Odor

There are 3 chambers in a porta potti.

  • Fresh water chamber
  • The toilet chamber (where you do your business).
  • A holding tank (for the solids and liquids).

Mixing solids and liquids is what causes the stench but your diet also determines the type and degree of odor.

The fresh water chamber holds fresh water used to rinse the toilet after you use it. There’s a pump that squirts the rinse water out and into the toilet.

Originally, I used the fresh water chamber to rinse the toilet after each use. Using a pump or two of fresh water after each use made the holding tank fill up faster so I stopped using it altogether.

Instead, after using the porta potti, I use a spray bottle (with water, vinegar or a cleaning product) to rinse or clean the toilet. It’s a quick couple sprays (and sometimes a wipe) and you’re done.

I also quit putting toilet paper in the holding tank because it makes the tank fill up faster. I place the used paper in a trash bag that’s disposed of each day.

The toilet chamber is where you do your business.

The holding tank is where the poop and pee goes after you open the hatch.

Parting Thoughts

I’ve shared some of the most common ways van dweller’s go to the bathroom when living in a van, car or a home on wheels that doesn’t come with built in tanks, a toilet, etc.

There are more ways to answer the call of nature but they aren’t as common and require more creativity.

As you live and travel in your home on wheels you may find that the method you started with isn’t your thing. This is normal and is by no means a reason to throw in the towel.

Once you learn what DOESN’T work for you… you can find what DOES work for you!

Easy van life bathroom options for women (and men).

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