Looking for some #vanlife tips on how to find water on the road for free? We can help! Follow these simple steps, and never run out of water again! (just kidding, it’ll probably happen at some point 😛 )
Before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at our water system setup in our van:
Our fresh water tank is 25 gallons and we fill it approximately every 5 to 7 days… More in-depth info about our water system here:
Back to topic. How to find water for your van:
We probably find water 90% of the time with Sanidumps.com. We wish the interface of the website was more user-friendly, but it is what it is…
- Head over sanidumps.com
- enter your country
- enter your state / province
- Click on the Google Maps icon:
- You’ll get a map with RV dump stations on it:
- Most of these are RV dump stations offered from municipality, gas stations, campground, etc. Green means “free”, red means “for registered guests only”, blue means that there’s a fee. Very often we can get free water from the blue places; just ask to find out. For example in gas station, they might give you free water if you fill up your gas tank for more than 25$.
If you couldn’t find anything in your area using Sanidumps.com, it’ll take some patience cause there is not a single exhaustive database, unfortunately. You will probably have to look on a few of these resources:
They advertise themselves as a campground directory, but there is also a RV dumps directory. Go to rvthereyetdirectory.com/rv-dumps, select your state / province, and navigate the map:
4- iOverlander App
Hint: use the filter to see the relevant points of interest.
5- Gas Stations
Still haven’t find anything? At this point consider driving to any gas stations and see if they have a spigot outside; most of the time they’ll let you use it (be nice and fill up your gas tank as well 🙂 )
National Parks, State Parks, Visitor Centers, Rest Areas, etc…
This is where things get interesting 😛 We use our van as a backcountry skiing basecamp and we LOVE chasing snow. Most places close their water spigot for winter to prevent the plumbing from cracking. That reduces the odds of finding water A LOT! You will have to be very pro-active and ask anywhere you see a spigot outside: any gas station, commercial building, house, etc…!
You might consider spending more time in regions where elevation is important; this way you can drive back to lower elevation where temperature is mild and find water there. For example: Salt Lake City, the west coast (California, Oregon, Washington, British-Columbia), Revelstoke BC, etc. Here is our thoughts after spending our first winter in the van:
Finding water is like finding a good place to spend the night: sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes more time and efforts. There’s no magic recipe here, unfortunately. It varies a lot on geographical location too. Best advice we can give is: don’t wait until you’re out of water to start searching; plan ahead!
Have more tips to share? Please add them in the comments section below!