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#1
Old 02-18-2014, 03:05 PM
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How can you get a cheap or free shower in a city you don't live in

Assume it is summer and you decide to visit a city and spend the day hiking, walking, biking, etc and after a few hours you are pretty rank.

Where can a person find a cheap or free shower? Here are my ideas:


Gym. However, for me my gym doesn't give me access to facilities in other cities. A day pass may only be $5 though.

Truck stop. These are even more expensive for some reason. It's just water but I think many charge $10 or more.

Get a camping shower and do it somewhere secluded. Probably deep in the woods.

Public beaches have showers, which you can do in your bathing suit. But assume the city lacks a beach.

What else can a person do?

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 02-18-2014 at 03:10 PM.
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#2
Old 02-18-2014, 03:08 PM
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Find a college campus gym and walk in like you belong there?
#3
Old 02-18-2014, 03:18 PM
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Some quarters and a car wash?
#4
Old 02-18-2014, 03:18 PM
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Some campgrounds have showers.

Municipal swimming pool.

Last edited by Kimballkid; 02-18-2014 at 03:20 PM.
#5
Old 02-18-2014, 03:20 PM
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the Y
#6
Old 02-18-2014, 03:34 PM
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Pay for a bed in a hostel - a bit pricier (maybe twenty-thirty bucks, more in some places), but you get a shower, a nap, and a place to stow your stuff while you wander about.
#7
Old 02-18-2014, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saje View Post
Find a college campus gym and walk in like you belong there?
That's what two friends and I who traveled to the west coast and back in 1974 did — except it was a dorm, not a gym.

At the University of Texas at El Paso, as I recall, we found a dorm that was actually in a huge multi-story hi-rise. We not only used the showers, we actually slept in the lobby the night before. No one seemed to pay us any notice.

Regrettably, I wouldn't look like I "belong there" today.
#8
Old 02-18-2014, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saje View Post
Find a college campus gym and walk in like you belong there?
Good luck with that - the one here has a high tech Mission Impossible hand scanner!
#9
Old 02-18-2014, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
Good luck with that - the one here has a high tech Mission Impossible hand scanner!
Usually you can just follow someone in if you don't look too sneaky.
#10
Old 02-18-2014, 04:28 PM
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I have seen some laundromats that have showers, towels for travelers. Not free, just feed the machine quarters.
#11
Old 02-18-2014, 04:31 PM
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Since you want to do it in summer you can just go swimming in a lake, river or pond.
#12
Old 02-18-2014, 04:31 PM
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Fountain at the mall.

Country club locker room.

Sprinklers going off in a random yard.

Safety shower at the local chemical plant.

Locker room at the local middle school (be prepared with a good explanation if you are caught here)

Plumbing showroom.

Use the master bathroom during a real estate "open house". (People stealing prescription drugs during open houses, has actually become a problem in some cities)
#13
Old 02-18-2014, 04:47 PM
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Whore's Bath...Find a public restroom, go to the sink, wash your head and neck (espcially the ears), wash your armpits, wash your crotch then ass, and finally the soles of your feet. It's what you do when you have to ration water. Clean the places where you can get an incapacitating infection fast and easy, which, by the way are the places that make you srink. Get out.

Sunday they got the electricity on after five days. I really missed hot running water.

Last edited by hlanelee; 02-18-2014 at 04:50 PM.
#14
Old 02-18-2014, 04:52 PM
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Truck stops have cheap showers. You'll need to wear shower shoes though unless you want foot fungus. Also, if you are "slick" you can find a room at a motel that's being made up and ask the maid if you can hop in the shower before she starts to clean the room.

The bigger the motel, the more likely that this is to work.
#15
Old 02-18-2014, 05:01 PM
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Interesting ideas. On the subject if a person wanted to be sneaky another idea I've heard is to go into a hospital, find an empty room with a shower in the bathroom and use that.

I'd rather not sneak into a college or a hospital though. I assume they'd just kick me out if I'm polite and low key, but I wouldn't want a trespassing charge on me.

The country club idea isn't bad either.
#16
Old 02-18-2014, 05:04 PM
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Public swimming pools have showers. Just a couple bucks to get in.
#17
Old 02-18-2014, 05:19 PM
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Rec center/gym. Anytime I pick the kids up from the pool I just walk in, nod at the desk people and roll right into the locker rooms & pool area. No card, no fancy biometrics, no cash. No way the part time 18 year-old desk attendant knows who I am. Of course, I look like a dad fetching his kids from the pool. Were I to try this at a country club or dormatory I'd be clapped in irons and stored in some forgotten prison ship for decades. If they gym makes you pay, I guess I'd consider it cheap to cough up the $4 and make use of the pool as well as the shower.
#18
Old 02-18-2014, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nevadaexile View Post
Truck stops have cheap showers...
On the Appalachian Trail the truck stop showers were obscenely expensive something like $12 which is normally free to $4 for thru hikers. Yes we kept hiking.
#19
Old 02-18-2014, 05:45 PM
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If you're lucky enough to be looking for a shower in Hawaii or similar tropical place, you just go for a walk in the rain. Everybody does that.
#20
Old 02-18-2014, 05:47 PM
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Don't a lot of airports have shower facilities? Or is it just the big international ones? I have no idea what they cost, but if you can get there via mass transit, it could be an option.

Other than that, visitor's rates at a gym would probably be the cheapest, but pick one that has towel service if you don't have your own.


Roddy
#21
Old 02-18-2014, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saje View Post
Find a college campus gym and walk in like you belong there?
Both of the universities I have been to have gyms that require university ID to enter. One of them is a liberal arts college in a small town, and does not require ID to enter the vast majority of its buildings.
#22
Old 02-18-2014, 07:01 PM
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Any big university will have lots of student boarding houses around. Often you can just walk in and use the bathroom; sometimes the kitchen, especially during the day when no one is around.

Big hospitals also have huge locker rooms for their employees. Usually you can just walk in, put your stuff in a locker, take a shower, and no one will pay any attention to you (the security guards, if there are any, are always posted at the entrances to the building; normally you should be able to get in through the underground parking lot and tunnels).

Last edited by terentii; 02-18-2014 at 07:02 PM.
#23
Old 02-18-2014, 07:08 PM
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Get arrested
#24
Old 02-18-2014, 07:13 PM
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If you knew in advance what kind of chain fitness centers there are in the city you're visiting, maybe you could sign up for a free trial membership ahead of time.

Last edited by blondebear; 02-18-2014 at 07:13 PM.
#25
Old 02-18-2014, 07:18 PM
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My office building has a shower in one of the bathrooms. No guards, no security access needed.
#26
Old 02-18-2014, 07:19 PM
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Water hose in someones yard. Wear swim trunks under your clothes.
#27
Old 02-18-2014, 08:33 PM
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I don't know about all these people suggesting using college dorms or gyms. At my son's school that kind of thing is tightly monitored. You need student ID to get in the rec center - they log the visit and they do not let anybody just wander in. I know because I've been there many times. Outsiders can enter only as the guest of a student, and they have to pay a day fee. Same with the student housing. With all the expensive tech shit the students have nowadays they don't want strangers wandering into the living areas, not to mention general safety concerns.
#28
Old 02-18-2014, 09:47 PM
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Tough times, Wes?
#29
Old 02-18-2014, 09:51 PM
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I remember Santa Fe, New Mexico had a nice little community center on the edge of the city near some hiking trails. A shower could be had there for a pittance. Lots of returning hikers and campers made use of that.

In Bangkok, cheap short-time hotels abound. There's no law that says you can't check into one alone. For about 10 bucks American at some of these places, it's yours for two or three hours, bathroom and shower included.
#30
Old 02-18-2014, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roderick Femm View Post
Don't a lot of airports have shower facilities? Or is it just the big international ones? I have no idea what they cost, but if you can get there via mass transit, it could be an option.

Other than that, visitor's rates at a gym would probably be the cheapest, but pick one that has towel service if you don't have your own.


Roddy
Now what kind of traveler are you if you don't have a towel? It's the single most massively useful thing you can own.
#31
Old 02-19-2014, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by running coach View Post
Now what kind of traveler are you if you don't have a towel? It's the single most massively useful thing you can own.
If you have a pot, a spoon, and either a nail or a stone (depending on your taste/preference) you can make nail or stone soup and never go hungry.
#32
Old 02-19-2014, 03:21 AM
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Try Couchsurfing, that system where people volunteer to put up travelers, usually for free. Look up people in the city where you are, tell them you're traveling and that you don't even need to stay the night, you just need 20 minutes in their shower.
#33
Old 02-19-2014, 10:16 AM
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Just get your friends together and pee on each other. Pee is sterile.
#34
Old 02-19-2014, 10:20 AM
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Stand under a fire sprinkler and hold up a lighter until you melt the eutectic and the sprinkler goes off. (Unlike in the movies, this only works for the sprinkler head you're under -- it won't set them all off). Lather, rinse, repeat if needed. Dress quickly and run before the police and fire people get there.
#35
Old 02-19-2014, 10:34 AM
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Get a short garden hose and a garden sprayer. Hook it up to a spigot on the backside of a building. Bring a pair of pliers in case the spigot doesn't have a handle.

Some gyms are nationwide and have reciprocal agreements with gyms in other cities. Get a membership and you'll be able to find facilities in lots of places.

Public swimming pools would probably be your most reliable and cheapest option. Even in the winter, most major cities will still have pools available.
#36
Old 02-19-2014, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filmore View Post
Public swimming pools would probably be your most reliable and cheapest option. Even in the winter, most major cities will still have pools available.
And admission's generally fairly cheap. For instance, the indoor pool in my county charges $6/day for adult admission. Bring your own towel, even if you're not hitchhiking the Galaxy. Or if you've left your towel at home, go by a dollar store first, and buy a 3-pack of dish towels for a buck.
#37
Old 02-19-2014, 11:48 AM
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And I dont know about these ppl talking about using the hospital staff changing areas. Even in my cowtown, those areas are security access code protected.

Wet Wipes. Good enough for the troops/good enough for you.

Last edited by SerafinaPekala; 02-19-2014 at 11:49 AM.
#38
Old 02-19-2014, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SerafinaPekala View Post
Wet Wipes. Good enough for the troops/good enough for you.
You just reminded me of one classmate back in uni. We were in the Anthropology Club, and once a semester there would be a big field trip, almost always to northern New Mexico (we were in West Texas) and involving camping. This one guy would always bring a ton of Wet Wipes with him to wipe himself down every night. In he tent fortunately, where no one could see, but the very thought of it led to much mirth.
#39
Old 02-19-2014, 09:00 PM
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I confess to taking "a shower" by running through the sprinklers at La Mirada Regional Park. My brother and I had just finished a round of frisbee golf on a hot day, and that was the easiest and most fun option available.
#40
Old 02-19-2014, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Stand under a fire sprinkler and hold up a lighter until you melt the eutectic and the sprinkler goes off. (Unlike in the movies, this only works for the sprinkler head you're under -- it won't set them all off). Lather, rinse, repeat if needed. Dress quickly and run before the police and fire people get there.
Not that this is a good idea anyway, but doesn't the water in those pipes usually sit for years, and is often grimy and bacteria infested, thereby precluding its use for a shower?
#41
Old 02-19-2014, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by yellowjacketcoder View Post
Not that this is a good idea anyway, but doesn't the water in those pipes usually sit for years, and is often grimy and bacteria infested, thereby precluding its use for a shower?
Spoilsport
#42
Old 02-19-2014, 10:19 PM
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Along a similar line, I couldn't recommend sprinkler showering nowadays, as many of our parks are now (hurray!) irrigated with reclaimed water. You can tell by looking for the purple pipes/spigots.

Last edited by araminty; 02-19-2014 at 10:20 PM.
#43
Old 02-19-2014, 11:47 PM
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Good god, if you're that cheap, just wait until you get home.
#44
Old 02-20-2014, 01:49 AM
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Internet cafes in many major Japanese cities have showers for a few dollars.
#45
Old 02-20-2014, 03:05 AM
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I've road tripped around Europe a few times and done this a lot. I've found the best option for a real shower is to walk onto a campsite like you belong there. Campsites never have checks to see who is staying there,* and the showers are always open. If you're lucky they'll even have hairdryers.

If it was a nice, small, family-run campsite we would ask to pay a little to use the showers. They almost always let us for free.

Sometimes hotels have showers in the loos in the lobby, and they also often have showers in the changing rooms for employees. Again, just walk in like you belong there. The biggest problem is that you can't walk in 7 people together with a towels and sponge bags, which you can at a campsite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SerafinaPekala View Post

Wet Wipes. Good enough for the troops/good enough for you.
We had those camping showers, and found the best thing is to wipe down well with a Wet Wipe and then rinse that off. We tend to be a big group, so the shower doesn't hold enough water for everyone to actually shower. But wiping down and then rinsing off makes you pretty clean. I don't like being left with that Wet Wipe film, I feel that needs to be rinsed off.


*Except for one in Italy, where a security guard chased us. It was quite terrifying!

Last edited by gracer; 02-20-2014 at 03:08 AM.
#46
Old 02-20-2014, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowjacketcoder View Post
Not that this is a good idea anyway, but doesn't the water in those pipes usually sit for years, and is often grimy and bacteria infested, thereby precluding its use for a shower?
Boy, you're picky for a freeloader.
#47
Old 02-20-2014, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roderick Femm View Post
Don't a lot of airports have shower facilities? Or is it just the big international ones? I have no idea what they cost, but if you can get there via mass transit, it could be an option.

At Incheon they are in the secure side of the airport, available only to passengers with a boarding pass or connecting flight. And they weren't cheap. I don't remember how much, but I decided to stay stinky.
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#48
Old 02-20-2014, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patty O'Furniture View Post
At Incheon they are in the secure side of the airport, available only to passengers with a boarding pass or connecting flight. And they weren't cheap. I don't remember how much, but I decided to stay stinky.
Same with Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, and just about every other airport I've seen that offers shower facilities.
#49
Old 02-20-2014, 07:16 PM
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Bar of soap, swimming trunks and a lake or river?
#50
Old 02-20-2014, 10:55 PM
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Presumably you'll be staying someplace in the city the night after the hiking -- wouldn't you be able to shower there?
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