How to find water for free – A vanlife guide

How to find water for free – A vanlife guide

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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:

How to find water vanlife, sink


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 We wish the interface of the website was more user-friendly, but it is what it is…

  1. Head over
  2. enter your country
  3. enter your state / province
  4. Click on the Google Maps icon:How to find water free vanlife, sanidumps_com
  5. You’ll get a map with RV dump stations on it:How to find water free vanlife, sanidumps map
  6. 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, 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:


2- is the little brother of It’s not as exhaustive as its brother, but chances are you will find something! Enter your city our use “GPS” button to auto-locate:

How to find water vanlife free, rvdumpsites



They advertise themselves as a campground directory, but there is also a RV dumps directory. Go to, select your state / province, and navigate the map:

How to find water free vanlife, rvthereyetdirector


4- iOverlander App

iOverlander (DesktopAndroid or iPhone) has campgrounds (free or not), gas stations, dump stations, etc. Of all the resources presented here, it’s the only one with a proper smartphone app.

Hint: use the filter to see the relevant points of interest.

How to find water free vanlife, iOverlander app


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 🙂 )


6- Others

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!

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About us



Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017, we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers, and moved into our self-built campervan. Every day is an opportunity for a new adventure... We’re chasing our dreams, and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

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Thanks to all of you, we managed to negociate group discount on these. Strength in numbers!

15 thoughts on “How to find water for free – A vanlife guide”

  1. I’m considering van life. I have health issues and I’m windowed. I’m tarafied I can’t do it. also I wish another person share ideas and info then I wouldn’t feel scared.. are there lots of single person
    vanlifer ..

  2. Some states have free water filling stations on the side of the highway. For example, Oregon has one off of US Hwy 26 on the way to the coast. Not sure how common this is elsewhere.

  3. Some of the big truck stops have potable water faucets anyone can use for free. Not sure if their apps show that under amenities, but Pilot/Flying J shows it under amenities on the website for an individual station. So you could find one near you, then check the website for that location.
    I wish someone would develop an app for finding water!! Someone get on that, please.

  4. here’s another idea when finding water is scarce. get a suction pump, coarse filter, and hose, then suck the water out of the nearest creek. if you’re like me, my destinations almost always include a pristine mountain stream. I’d have no problem taking a shower in water from a mountain source. use a reverse osmosis or some other filter on your drinking water.

  5. Bonjour à vous. J’ai cru voir que vous étiez des Québécois alors je me demandais pourquoi votre site n’est pas disponible en français. Il est très complet et bien détaillé mais malgré tout comme je suis loin d’être bilingue, il est difficile pour moi de bien tout comprendre. Ceci dit bonne continuité dans votre aventure et merci pour votre site qui est très utile à ceux qui comme nous pensent à aménager un van.

    • L’anglais, c’est la langue internationale du voyage et des affaires…
      Puisque notre voyage se passe 100% à l’extérieur du Québec, faire notre site en anglais nous a permis de connecter avec des gens pendant notre voyage. Notre audience provient 90% des USA; ainsi, on peut rejoindre (et aider) un maximum de gens.

      On avait commencé à le traduire à un certain point, mais c’est beaucoup trop de travaille surtout sachant que l’on effectue souvent des corrections aux articles.

      Bonne journée!


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