After a long day on the road, there’s nothing like a nice, warm shower—and that means a truck stop. If you’ve never taken a truck stop shower, you probably have some questions. After all, many of us aren’t used to scrubbing down in public facilities.
We talked to experienced over-the-road truck drivers to learn how these showers work. They told us about everything from truck stop shower prices to how to avoid frustrating the driver who comes in after you. Here’s your truck-stop showering advice from the experts.
1. What are truck stop shower prices like?
First, let’s talk cash: How much does it cost to shower at a truck stop? Most drivers would prefer to shower for free—which, thankfully, is possible. Many truck stop fuel cards bundle shower credits into their reward programs. These credits build as you refuel, making your showers essentially free (if you have the right fuel card). Love’s and Pilot Flying J certainly provide shower credits with driver rewards points. Typically, you get a free shower with every 50 gallons of fuel you buy.
Without shower credits, you can expect to pay between $10 and $17 to get clean.
2. Which truck stops have the best showers?
Of the four truck drivers we consulted, two of them listed Pilot Flying J truck stops as having the best showers. That makes sense; not long ago, Pilot Flying J spent $100 million upgrading its shower facilities and bathrooms. At travel plazas on the Ohio Turnpike, one driver mentioned, you need to supply your own towels and soap. Contrast this with Pilot Flying J, which touts its “high quality” towels (along with Italian tile).
Second choice, for one driver, was QuickTrip showers. And the only woman driver in our sample group prefers Love’s showers, touting the overall cleanliness—with Pilot Flying J as a close second.
3. How do you order a shower at a truck stop?
Major truck stops like Love’s and Pilot Flying J have mobile apps, and you can schedule your shower there. If you don’t have the app, just walk up to the cashier and tell them you need a shower (hoping they don’t reply, “Yeah, clearly!”).
One of our sources said, “At Pilot Flying J, I can sit in the truck and set up the shower in the app on my phone. At QuickTrip, I go inside and request one at the desk. On the Ohio Turnpike Travel Plaza, you get showers on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Truck stop mobile apps were our sample group’s favorite way to order, schedule, and pay for showers (even if that “payment” comes from accumulated shower credits). Generally, only the national truck stop companies (your Pilot Flying J’s, Love’s, QuickTrips, etc.) offer mobile apps. If you stop at a mom-and-pop truck stop, expect to order your shower at the cashier’s desk.
4. What equipment should you bring to your truck stop shower?
Some truck stops offer soap and towels. Others don’t. It’s a good idea to carry some of your own stuff into the shower room—and many drivers prefer to use their own towels and cleaning products even if the truck stop provides them. Here are some of the things our sources recommend taking to your truck stop shower:
- Shower shoes or flip flops. Most truck stops clean showers between every user, so foot fungus isn’t a huge concern. Still, you’re in a public place; it’s always a good idea to keep a layer of protection between your feet and a shared surface.
- Personal care products. We all have our favorite brands of soap, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. While some truck stops place soap dispensers in their showers (Pilot Flying J certainly does), you might not care to use the generic stuff.
- A change of clothes. Don’t hop back into your dirties.
- A duffel bag. You need an easy way to haul clothes and toiletries. A good duffel bag does the truck—although it might not be enough on its own, which brings us to the next item on the list.
- A suction cup caddy. You know those little plastic containers that stick to tile with suction cups? They keep all your toiletries close at hand as you shower. For the deluxe experience, throw one of these into your shower bag.
- A towel. One driver we spoke to noticed that truck stop staff dry the shower floor with the same towels they offer for your body. They wash these towels between uses, so it’s not a big deal—but if knowing that a public towel doubles as a mop bothers you, be sure to bring your own.
You might also want to bring in some disinfectant wipes. Again, truck stop staff cleans the showers after every use—but a little extra disinfectant can help you feel more at ease, especially during a global pandemic.
5. How do you maintain good truck stop shower etiquette?
Someone used this shower before you. Someone else will use it after. A little common kindness goes a long way toward ensuring everyone has a great experience. Here are a few shower etiquette tips drivers suggest:
- Be patient. You might have to wait for your shower. Not only does the previous occupant have to get out of there, truck stop staff has to clean up before you enter. Be cool about this.
- Use your shower time efficiently. You’re not the only one who has to wait. Don’t linger to soak up the heat if there’s a line—and there is often a line.
- Clean up after yourself. Respect your fellow drivers and the cleaning staff by leaving showers as clean as you can. Remove stray hairs from walls and surfaces. Hang truck stop towels up rather than leaving them on the floor. Common courtesy stuff.
- Don’t play music. “The walls are thin,” said one driver. With apologies to Bobby Darin, that means no “Splish Splash” on the bluetooth speaker.
- Leave a tip for the cleaning staff. Cleaning truck stop showers isn’t really tipped work, but one driver recommends tipping anyway. “Consider leaving a couple of dollars for a tip, especially if there’s a line or the shower’s really clean,” the driver says. “People work really hard and fast to turn over the shower.”
Ultimately, the key to truck stop shower etiquette is to remember you’re in a shared space, and to respect everyone else who uses the facilities. “Treat it better than you treat your own shower at home,” said one driver.
6. When is the best time to take a truck stop shower?
Like any business, truck stops have their rush hours and quiet times. If you want to avoid waiting for a shower, time your arrival between busy moments. These will differ for different truck stops, and on different routes and days, but drivers identify peak shower times as 6 to 8 a.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.
If you can shower between these ranges, you can avoid the crowd, get your shower in quicker, and maybe even take a little more time relaxing in the steam. For more practical advice on the trucking industry—from understanding the 34-hour reset rule to buying your first semi truck—browse the Bobtail blog.
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