Camping is the answer.

Camping For Beginners – The RV Toilet Experience

As you all know by now, I just completed my first ever camping trip this past weekend. It was a three night outing, an hour and a half from home, with many family members that had camped for years, in a state park with full hook-ups. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! My wife has also camped for her entire life, so I am much more of a hindrance than a help. Let me give you a little added perspective – I am no spring chicken. I am in my 50s, but it seems I am still able to learn new tricks!

My biggest fear about camping is the toilet – whether we are talking about the brand new one in our camper, or the “potty houses” in an RV park. The park we were in had adequate toilets, but the showers were more than a little dank and gross. Thank goodness for the brand new three piece dry bath in our Vintage Cruiser. I found out by the first evening that it was a little bit of heaven. Not like a s’more bit of heaven, but you know, still pretty good.

So let me clue you in on my worries leading up to the trip:

  • The toilet looks small and somewhat flimsy compared to those in the house.
  • What if a bit of plumbing breaks lose?
  • What is the hose flies off the sewer outlet/hole – I don’t know what you call that at the campsite?
  • What if fecal matter is flying through the air?
  • Why won’t Steph get me a hazmat suit to wear when I help attach and detach this hose?

We arrived on Thursday about 5pm. I waited as long as I could to use the restroom in our camper, then I used it (just #1) and I survived unscathed from that experience. I went on to have a “normal” weekend in the bathroom even though it was unnerving at first. It later became more worrisome as we got ready to depart. We had to flush out the black water (black water = sewage or what went into the toilet beside water). We had to go out and pull the handle on the black water tank. Steph did it before I got around to the back of the camper! To understand how cringe worthy it is, see the photo below of the sewage hose. It is black with orange ends – the end in the top left corner attaches to the camper, the one on the bottom right, with the clear elbow shaped window attaches to the sewage receptacle at the campsite. Why is that thing clear? Do we really need to see what flies by there? I asked Steph what she saw. She said, “Well, Mr. Hankey didn’t float by screaming if that is what you are asking!” (If you don’t understand that reference, please google South Park Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo.)

Anyway, I missed that part but was prepared by coming around the corner with my t-shirt pulled up over my nose and mouth. My father-in-law wondered what in the hell I was doing that for and I explained that Steph would not buy me a hazmat suit while shopping for our accessories. I got an eye roll but then found out that Steph had come around the corner the same exact way!

Once you have emptied the black water, you pull the lever to open the grey water. That is the water that came from your sinks and your shower – so soapy and a little greyish but nothing scary is in there. It flushes out the nastiness that might be left behind in the hose. Then you run clear water through after that. I encourage you to always have on heavy duty rubber gloves, maybe hip waders in case something goes awry and I would cover your mouth and nose for the same reason – you just can’t be too safe. Honestly though, it all went well with no issues at all! Having your own bathroom is pretty awesome – and the shower makes the toilet part worth dealing with!

I am also providing you with a picture of what campers call a “stinky slinky” that holds your sewer hose and takes it to the sewage outlet at a nice gentle decline while gently cradling it off the ground. Get one that says you can run over it without breaking it. Really people – do you want to cut costs on these sorts of things?

The other photo is of the enzymes you put in the tank after clean out. We got a different kind – more of  Cascade packet type – dropped it in the toilet, added 4 gallons of clean water and then it sloshed around on the ride home further cleaning the tank and adding good bacteria to said tank.

You may also be wondering about toilet paper. They make some specifically for use in an RV tank, but we opted for regular old high quality Charmin and kept a little trash can, with a liner and a lid, in the bathroom and just threw out the toilet paper. And we carried the trash up to the dumpster at least once per day and that did not cause me any anxiety after the first day.

So there you go. If I can do this, so can you!! So now it’s time for you to Get Out & Go!


sewage hose
The sewage hose with its built in window. Ew.
Toilet Treatment`
This is the toilet treatment.
The stinky slinky. What a great name.


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