I am a newly-retired, former accounting professional, newbie camper who has never been particularly outdoorsy. We wanted to give camping a try, but did not initially consider campers without toilets. I felt that giving up an indoor toilet was just too much. However, we settled on our T@G because it fits in our basement and is easily pulled by our tow vehicle.
For some readers, this post may be TMI, but I would have liked to have read something like this when we first considered our camper and in the early days of our camping.
The biggest challenge for me would be to adapt to very uncertain and varied bathroom options. I was not worried about showering at campsites, but I was worried about how I would handle getting up in the middle of the night, which happens often.
We have been on nine camping trips to ten different campsites and I can honestly say that I am far more comfortable with camping in our T@G, but it has been a process.
Worst Nightime Experience
This occurred on our first camping trip. On the first night, I had a flashlight handy and had checked out the bathhouse location in the daylight, so felt I was as ready as I could be for my nocturnal trip. The bathhouse was down a trail with a couple of turns. It was well-lit, so I had no trouble finding it. Coming back, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a different area. I could have wandered around for quite awhile, but recognized one of our friend’s campers, which helped me navigate to ours.
The next night I used a five-gallon bucket filled with kitty litter and topped with a toilet lid. (This was our very low-tech solution.) It was in a tent on our campsite and was far better than hiking in the woods. Despite the convenience, I did not like the cleanup.
New Strategy—Camp Near a Restroom
This strategy actually worked very well! Compared to hiking through the woods, walking a short distance to a bathhouse you could see from your campsite was easy. I stayed with this strategy through several camping trips and will use it again whenever it is a good option.
It was not a good option on a trip with a group of our friends. We booked our sites early and they had prime spots. I chose not to stay in their area because it was not near a restroom. Our area was not as shady as theirs, had far more bugs, and we were not able to be where the action was with them. This got me to thinking another option was needed.
Next Strategy—A Porta Potty
A friend had been suggesting that I get a porta potty since we began camping, but I had been resisting. I was afraid that dealing with cleanup would be gross. I was ready to give it a try though and I bought one on line. I also bought a privacy tent because we had discovered that we did not always have the option to set up a tent.
I was also a little bit intimidated about how they worked. I will go into some detail here for those who may be unfamiliar with them. The one we purchased seems pretty standard. There is a top section where water is stored for flushing and a bottom section for waste. We also use holding tank deodorant and it works very well; there is no unpleasant smell.
The photo above shows the potty disassembled. Upon arrival at campsite you just fill the section on the right with water and the attach it to the section on the left. Then toss in one of the deodorant packs into the bottom section. When utilizing it, you pull out the lever on the bottom and when finished, you press the waffle valve on the top to flush. You then close the lever on the bottom.
Cleanup was not bad at all. My husband volunteered to handle it, but as I am the primary user, I felt I should do it. It was far easier to use and clean than I feared. The assembled product is below.
This gave me such flexibility! I no longer worried about being near the restrooms. We always brought the new equipment when we were uncertain about the closeness of campsite facilities, though sometimes we did not take it out of the box. We could camp at the best sites with our friends. Our little privacy tent goes up and down very easily and we were set.
You would think that with our new equipment and my adaptation to using them that no indoor toilet would be a non-issue. However, we have encountered one other situation that is not resolved.
The No Tents Dilemma
We recently camped with friends at a beautiful RV Resort. Upon arrival, we learned that no tents were allowed, not even a privacy tent. I raised it a couple of times with management and they were not budging. We were not near a restroom, but we were only there a couple of nights. We were with friends and I decided to just make the best of it. It was a pretty far hike for the middle of the night, but it was well-lit and easy to navigate. Fortunately, my previous trips trekking to restrooms has made me flexible about nightime walks.
The fact that our camper does not have an indoor toilet is no longer a big deal. I could not have said this at the beginning of this journey. We love our T@G and the economy it brings to our camping trips. For those who are first considering camping without an indoor toilet, I offer the following recommendations:
- Be open to new experiences. If you want to adapt, I believe you can. Also, this is camping, not luxury travel. It has its own kind of special beauty, but it is not primarily about the comfort.
- Remember that you are getting a lot on the plus side with a teardrop. Light, easy towing and the ability to conveniently store in your garage. That was worth a lot to us.
- Always look for the close restroom option when it works for you. No bathroom to clean at all; how cool is that?
- Don’t wait to get a porta potty. They are easy to set up, use, and break down.
- When booking campsites, always get a clear understanding of any restrictions related to tents. I suspect this would be primarily related to RV resorts. You may want to go anyway, but it is a good idea to know what to expect.
- Enjoy your camper and embrace new adventures!