Tuesday, February 7, 2017

As clean as a truck driver

When I say "truck stop," some people scrunch up their faces and give a silent, "Ewww." They are usually suburbanites imagining a place populated by oily, dirty, smelly blue collar guys hopped up on amphetamines, with female junkies turning tricks in the parking lot. So when I say "truck stop shower" they gag and imagine oily, dirty, smelly, damp closets covered in soap scum, body hair, diseases and other unspeakable horrors.

This is because they've never been to a truck stop. Or they didn't know they had because it was called a "travel center" and it looked like a large gas station/convenience store/fast food restaurant complex. With semis in back. And it's because they've never even knew there were showers to be had.

Well, for the truck stop shower virgins out there, this one at the Flying J in Lordsburg NM is very typical.

Clean, modern, well lit, roomy, private. I've used health club showers and hotel bathrooms that don't measure up. Attendants clean up, mop up and disinfect between customers. They supply fresh towels, wash cloths and mats. The stalls are about six feet by four feet. There's usually all the water pressure and hot water you could want. The shower heads usually have at least two settings. There's no time limit. Bathe until you get wrinkly. It sure beats anything anyone has in a van or RV. It even beats some people's houses.

I prefer the showers at Flying J and Pilot travel centers. (They're the same company.) The towels at Love's tend to be thin and scratchy. I've used the showers at only one T/A truck stop. I have no particular memories, so it must have been okay. Sometimes the showers are on the old side, but I think the companies have programs to modernize them, because I've gone back to a couple of places and was surprised with renovations.

Sometimes you'll have to wait your turn for a shower. Other times you can get in immediately. Pro drivers get loyalty cards and earn free showers. The rest of us have to pay. Usually. Sometimes the clerk, surprised you don't have a loyalty card, will take pity and give you a shower free. Sometimes a trucker behind you in line will offer to put it on his/her loyalty card because they've earned more showers than they could ever use.

Eleven to twelve bucks might be a hit on your budget. I do sponge baths most of the time and truck stop showers every two or three weeks. They're a treat, like pizza or ice cream. But not fattening.


  1. My daughter is a truck driver; I learned how wonderful these places are from her. She really appreciates not having to take a wet towel back to her rig.

  2. Pilot/Flying J has a loyalty card for RVs too. They are not going to check your rig. It will accumulate points the same way ours do only on gas purchases. You can spend the pointson anything in the travel plaza, including showers it think they also give shower credits besides to points the way they do for us (truckers). In the summer months most of the time they have double points. They want your business.

  3. The few times I've done a truck stop shower, it's been worth every penny. There are times when the sweat, salt, and grime demands volumes of hot, hot water, soap, and fluffy towels. Bonus: no cleanup (for you).

  4. Totally agree on the luxury of the newer ones. At the one in Columbus, Montana, they have a lounge with nice sofas, chairs and a TV in case you need to wait or just want to hang out. Wifi, too. The cleaning "cart" was a hot steam cleaning thingy which made me feel even better. Hot gushing steam is gonna get into all the crevices of tile, etc. (at least I would think it does).

  5. Truck stops have improved a lot in the past 20 odd years. The occasional hot shower for 12 bucks would help deter the temptation of a more expensive motel room!

  6. Awww. I was hoping for a picture of the actual shower. Is it a hose/sprayer thingy?

    1. Very rarely is it a sprayer and hose. The one in the shower above (and in most Flying J and Pilot showers, is a head about the size of a saucer with a lever to switch between a standard spray pattern and a tight "fire hose" pattern.