KEYWORDS: water, wash, bowl, trailer, gas, toilet

Have Trailer--Will Travel--Part 12: Ventilation, Heat and Bathing

David Berg


1. IN OUR CAMPERS IN WINTER we used to keep one top vent open slightly, & the bathroom or the kitchen window open slightly. This way we had no draft on anybody's bed or sitting at table, but we had a little bit of ventilation, fresh air coming in the window & bad air going out the vent.

2. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE WHEN YOU'RE COOKING inside in the Wintertime. The cooking will warm up the trailer so quickly that you will probably have to open your kitchen window & the vent & maybe a few other windows too! But for Winter sleeping at night, normally you will not need much heat even in cold weather‚ because your body warmth will keep the trailer warm enough, if you have plenty of covers & you just open one window a little crack for ventilation & fresh air. It'll keep you warm enough to sleep a good night's sleep in a nice cold room.

3. HOWEVER OF COURSE IF IT GETS DOWN TO FREEZING & there's snow & ice etc., you may need a little heat‚ & that's why most trailers have heaters. One of those little electric blower heaters is the best I know of for a trailer. Save your gas for emergencies. Save your gas for the things you can only use gas for, & the things that only use gas. If you have a local electrical hook-up, then use electricity for as much as you can, & gas only for your cooking, & don't even use your gas heater if you have electricity—use a little electric heater.—We even used electric hot plates for cooking when hooked up to electricity.—It saves gas!

4. THE NEXT THING I'D BETTER DEAL WITH IS THE BATHROOM—if you have a bathroom! Even camp trailers usually have bathrooms nowadays. These modern trailers have a little bath, W.C. or toilet room which is very convenient, containing your little portable toilet, a nice little wash bowl with running water or pumped water‚ the medicine chest & sometimes a little shelf space. There's usually a little place beneath the wash bowl to tuck your portable toilet so your have room to stand there & give yourself a sponge bath with a wet wash cloth. This is very convenient & about all you really need if you're camping out. If you prefer a little more luxury, hot showers etc., then you'd better pick yourself a trailer park that has them.

5. SOME TRAILER BATHS ARE EQUIPPED WITH A FLOOR DRAIN & A SHOWER NOZZLE, so you can shower as well. But it would have to be in a trailer that has a lotta water with a lotta pressure &/or city water connection & a hot water heater & all that, in order to get that much pressure in order to be able to take a trailer shower! So those are certain luxuries that sometimes trailer campers must forego.

6. TRAILER LIVERS LIVING IN BIG LUXURY TRAILERS that they don't expect to move except once in a blue moon may have all these conveniences of home, such as hot water heaters & running water hooked to the city mains‚ etc. But if you're going to be really movable & frequently travelling & camping out‚ you're not going to be able to have all these luxuries of copious running hot-water showers & all that!

7. NEITHER WILL YOU BE ABLE TO HAVE A FLUSH TOILET CONNECTED WITH THE SEWER! Our last camper, the Ark, or Dodge Motor-Home‚ had all these amenities: A little toilet room with an airplane-type flush toilet with a 30-gallon holding tank for sewage & a shower & a hot-water heater & running hot water etc. We could use it all that way if hooked up to the city water, or even on our 50 gallons of tank water.

8. BUT WHEN CAMPING OUT THIS TOOK TOO MUCH WATER & GAS TO HOT SHOWER‚ as water & gas were both precious & difficult to get. In order to fill both our water & gas tanks, we had to jack down the camper & go into town or somewhere where there was a faucet & fill up the water tanks again, & buy more gas, so water & gas were just too precious to waste on needless hot showers!

9. THERE WERE SHOWER ROOMS IN MOST OF THE CAMPS where we stayed, but they were distant & sometimes cold, & it really was hardly worth the walk, & frequently occupied by other characters that we didn't care to be associated with. Lots of times there was no place to set your clothes & valuables or even a hand towel, so it was a hassle to go to the shower rooms & take showers!

10. SO NORMALLY WE JUST TOOK WHAT WE CALL A SPONGE-BATH. You just have a little bowl of water like in most of these camp trailers—a nice little wash bowl in the toilet room—& you wash yourself all over with a soapy cloth, then rinse it & wipe off the soap!—And you've had a sponge bath! The trailer bowl isn't any bigger than a big serving bowl for food at the table, so it doesn't waste much water either!

11. WE WERE SO STINGY & SAVING ON WATER that we would put our clean water in the wash bowl, fill it only once or twice a day with clean water‚ & wash our faces & hands all day in that same water! We would also take our baths in that same water! You take a wash cloth & get it just a bit wet & soapy—don't get it too soapy or you'll be sorry! Then wash yourself all over with that wet, soapy wash cloth, rinse it out in your little thimble-full of water, & wipe yourself off all over again with a nice rinsed washcloth. If once-over doesn't do it, then rinse it out again & try once more. You'll get most of the soap off, you won't be too sticky, & at least you'll be clean!

12. MARIA IS JUST NOW CONFESSING THAT SOMETIMES SHE CHEATED & PUT SOME EXTRA WATER IN THE BOWL TO RINSE! She would turn on the faucet & get a little extra non-soapy rinse water to rinse herself off with.—Aha! Now she is confessing after all these years! Well, that was good for your soul, Honey! You really couldn't keep that on your heart forever.—The way you'd wasted water!

13. WASTING WATER WHEN CAMPING OUT IS A SIN! I mean, it is an almost unpardonable sin!—And if you do, you ought to be the guy that has to carry it! She says, "I wasn't wasting it—it was a necessity!" Well‚ washing your hair was a bit difficult, because in that little bit of water you would have to soap your hair & then try to really get it rinsed out, & it was quite a chore! So usually she went down to the public showers & washed it there where they had plenty of hot water.

14. FREQUENTLY YOUR PUBLIC SHOWER ROOMS IN THE TRAILER PARKS WILL HAVE HOT WATER where you can wash, shower & wash clothing in wash tubs of hot water. Sometimes we were parked close enough to fresh water by the side of a lake or stream, so Maria could go down with a wash bowl & get some water right out of the lake to wash her hair & rinse it there with the lake water.

15. YOU'LL SOON FIND OUT WHEN YOU START CAMPING, WHY YOU'RE SO SAVING ON WATER! It's a vital necessity that you need for many uses, & you use a lot of it, & you usually have to carry it all, & it's heavy! So you just don't use any more than you can possibly help. So you'll find sponge baths with a little wash rag are quite refreshing & cooling. Of course if it's hot Summertime weather, you should always try to park next to a lake, pool, stream or river where you can actually bathe or swim, which is the best of all.

16. OUR LITTLE WASH BASIN was only about 10 inches across & about 8 inches deep, & it only held about a quart of water. So in the morning we would fill that with nice fresh clean water, & everybody would wash their faces & hands in that bowl full of water. And also you could take a sponge bath in that water, if it had not gotten too dirty.

17. WE ALLOWED ONE BOWL-FULL OF WATER PER BATH, so if you needed a sponge–bath you could have one bowl of water. But if the water which we were washing our faces & hands in wasn't too dirty, you were supposed to take your bath in that too. After that bath, by this time, the water was dirty enough that you could let it out. But we did not let it out through the drain into the sewage holding tank, because that filled up the holding tank too quickly.

18. SO I DISCONNECTED THE WASH BOWL DRAIN & put a bucket underneath the washbowl instead, & allowed the dirty water to drain into this bucket. This was very convenient‚ because then when you came in from the beach or you came in from outside in the dusty soil & had dirty feet, you could just slip your thongs off & dip your feet in this bucket of dirty water underneath the wash basin, & rinse them off nicely!

19. YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO DRY THEM EITHER in hot weather.—You just slipped your thongs back on & were nice & cool & refreshed from having washed your feet in this bucket of water, not-too-dirty water from the wash bowl. But we did have a foot towel you could dry them with if you wished.