Travel Trailer with a Large Bathroom

Do you share my love for bathrooms?

Bathrooms are a subject I am well-qualified to speak on behalf of because I use them daily. When it comes to bathrooms I've seen them all, whether it's a hotel, restaurant, airport, jet plane, doctor's office, spa, school, grocery store, boat, friend's house, movie theatre, and every type of trailer and camper under the sun.

What's most important?

What are the most important factors to look out for in the best RV bathroom? Let's cut to the chase. Of all the RV features available, a great bathroom needs to be your private place, where people leave you alone to do, well, your business.

A room of one's own

For moms, the bathroom is often their only true place of solace. This is especially true for my older sister with three young boys. They follow her around chanting, Mommy, mommy... It's one of the only rooms in her home that she can sneak away to steal a moment of privacy and quiet. It's a place where you can excuse yourself when you need a break from a boring conversation, are tired or not feeling well, and need some alone time.

My bathroom, my sanctuary

For me, a large bathroom is not as important as a bathroom with a large shower space. It's similar to a cozy master bedroom with a larger queen-sized bed; The shower is where I spend most of my time in the bathroom, and the bed is where I spend most of my time in the bedroom.

Me time

For an enjoyable RV camping experience, a quality bathroom is key. A place where you can lock the door and tend to your needs. In the shower, you are not interrupted or feeling compelled to see who just texted you. You are allowed to just be. The shower is the one place where your body, your mind, and your thoughts can be free.

The bathroom is where we feel safe to inspect ourselves further. Pluck some chin hairs, try on a new lipstick, imagine a lower hairline, look ourselves in the mirror and give ourselves a high 5 or pep talk. Or maybe just have a good cry. Point is, it’s all fair game behind the privacy of that locked door, and don’t you want that room to be large and luxurious to support all of the human things we reserve for this sacred space?

Bathroom Magic

Generally, it is acceptable to excuse yourself to the bathroom without any further explanation. Maybe you need to send a text, check to see if you have a spunky piece of food in your teeth that you couldn’t MacGyver without really getting in there, or maybe, you have to, well, use the bathroom.

The bathroom is a place we feel free enough to sing in the shower and capture a bit of me-time... in a spacious hot, shower. Yes, please.

In order to get the most of the bathroom magic, it needs to check some important boxes.  Here are 15 things I look out for in the best RV bathroom.

Features of the Best RV Bathrooms

  1. Smells good
  2. Natural light
  3. Natural ventilation
  4. Corner walk-in shower
  5. Storage space throughout
  6. Functional toilet
  7. Large bathrooms for tall people
  8. Colors -- light and natural 
  9. Easy to clean
  10. Warm and inviting Master Bathroom
  11. Ambient music
  12. Endless hot water
  13. Towel warmer
  14. Humidity control
  15. Quality stable toilet

1. Smells good

The first thing I immediately take stock of when I walk into a bathroom is whether it is clean and smells good. Features such as ample storage space, a functional toilet, and a spacious room to move around are all important, too.

In many travel trailers -- all sizes -- nowadays, you'll see more composting toilets, also known as negative pressure ventilated toilets, which means there's a negative flow of air that's being exhausted out of the toilet of the trailer, either out of the wall or ceiling, which keeps the inside air naturally flowing through and out of the bathroom. It also keeps any unpleasant smells from the composting solids in the toilet from entering the bathroom so you'll never smell anything.

Opinions on composting toilets are starting to shift, too, because the reality is they have less smell than a black water tank system which stores the liquid and solid effluent in a black water holding tank. The black water tanks smells are reduced by adding biodegradable deodorant pods into the tank. Either way, it's one of the features that need to be considered.

2. Natural light

Does the bathroom have adequate natural light from windows and skylights? Looking out into the Great Outdoors brings a sense of balance to your inner world.

Scientific research has proven that people subconsciously seek out sunlit places and enjoy spending time in natural light. Research has also proven that there are real benefits associated with spending time in spaces that offer abundant natural light. Natural lighting helps people be more productive, happier, healthier, and calmer.

The more time my brain is exposed to life outside of my head, the more I am reminded that the bubble I live my life in is just that and that there is an open road and adventure out there waiting for me.

One design trick, especially for small travel trailers, is to capture that light entering in and reflect it on a wall. An RV can expand the length, width, and height of a space by simply using white walls throughout the living space, including in the bathroom. Ideally, if you can get a skylight over the shower that's ideal.

Lights on dimmers in every room are necessary features as well . There is nothing enjoyable about getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night only to be blinded when you flip the switch.

Another great benefit of using natural light in your full-time RV home is that it reduces the amount of mildew and mold which keeps your space healthier. Architects know the value of ample light and fresh air produces happiness, naturally. This brings us to the next value to consider, natural ventilation.

3. Natural ventilation

To put it bluntly, condensation inside any travel trailer, motorhome, or recreational vehicle is not your friend. A quality camper is built to be watertight, which also means that they're air-tight, so over time, it's going to get smelly because of the mildew that forms from all of the water. Think of the entire floor plan of your travel trailer as a steam sauna and you'll understand how if you don't have a lot of great ventilation, then where's the condensation going? You've seen it form on the glass doors, windows, mirrors, and walls dripping down in streaks.

Ventilation can come in two ways: passive openings such as doors or windows and roof vents. Whichever ways you're using to ventilate your trailer, the goal is to reduce humidity to prevent condensation, which creates mold and mildew from forming. Ventilation also exhausts unwanted smells.

4. Corner walk-in shower

A spa-style shower is extremely important because a shower is what anchors the luxury experience of a master bathroom. The feature I consider most important in a walk-in shower is materiality. It needs to have natural materials, with minimalist clean lines, a rain shower head, and a shower tower, with a lot of spray options.

Options like a rain shower that comes straight down from above and a shower wand are two essentials. It's also important that your large shower is a generous size, so I recommend at least a 30" by 30" space or greater so you have plenty of elbow room and can easily move around.

If you're traveling off-grid and you're trying to conserve water, you'll definitely want to use a handheld shower wand with low flow settings so that you can maximize the onboard water.

The other advantage of this type of walk-in spa shower is that it doesn't have a lip, so you don't have to step up onto it from the floor level. The drain is recessed down into the floor and you walk straight into the shower. It also allows the ceiling to be higher because the floor's not raised up. No more tripping and it feels like an extension of the bathroom itself, so the space feels larger, generous, and open.

I also like a functional wet bath design that drains into a spa-like wood-slotted floor made of natural materials such as hardwood that is naturally mildew-resistant, and I prefer walnut or teak because it's durable and attractive.

5. Storage throughout

A large shower with various nooks to place shampoo bottles, soap, and shavers are key. And extra storage shouldn't just be in the shower, but throughout the bathroom, easily accessed. I recommend two types of storage: one is up high at eye level and another hidden away under the sink.

The one down low can be larger for storing baskets and tall bottles. And don't be tricked by a large cabinet door because it's very common in travel trailers for there to be a water heater blocking more than half your storage area. (Major design fail).

Up high, one or more medicine cabinets are very important because you'll need eye-level storage so you're not constantly having to bend down to access your day-to-day items, such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, lotions, first aid, and cosmetics.

Any way you look at it, extra and large bathroom space are always welcome.

6. Functional toilet

It may be obvious, but one of the most important features of a bathroom is a functional and comfortable toilet. The most common is a foot flush or hand flush toilet where you depress a lever, a valve opens up a gate valve, water flows, and the effluent flows into the black water tank.

There are many other luxury toilet options that elevate your bathroom game. One that I can recommend is an electric master toilet where you push a button and it automatically fills the bowl, flushes, and then refills. As it's flushing a macerator, which is like a blender that liquefies solids. This helps keep your black water tank from the cursed black pyramid of death. Trust me, you don't want to visit these pyramids!

The other type of toilet -- a composting toilet -- is for those who are super focused on saving water and maximizing their time off the grid because compost toilets don't use any water. You can also used that precious water you saved for a longer shower! My favorite type of compost toilet is a urine-diverting compost toilet which separates the liquids from the solids.

Basically, the solids go into a closable bucket with a compostable bag and the fluids go down into your grey water holding tank. The bag holds multiple uses and can be disposed of in any trash receptacle. Best of all, with a composting toilet there's no need for a blackwater holding tank.

7. Large bathrooms for tall people

The next category is what I call large bathrooms for tall people. Most RV bathrooms are what I would call small and tall unfriendly. Recreational vehicles are not typically known for their big bathrooms with a corner walk-in shower. Your next RV should have a residential style floor plan that gives you a flexible living area and more bathroom space.

If you're a tall individual such as myself (5'9") and my husband (6'5") we definitely need a large bathroom with extra space and elbow room.

We've lived in lots of different boats and RV camper setups -- unfortunately, we couldn't stand up in most of the spaces. We'd have to crouch down like in the movie, Elf, feeling way too big for the bath.

A spa-style shower can have great features to where you can sit down on a fold-down seat. Now, that's wonderful for shaving legs or for folks who want to sit and relax, but having enough extra space to stand up comfortably is important, especially for those living in their travel trailers full time.

In summary, a large bathroom with enough space for human-sized people is a must.

8. Colors -- light and natural

A master bathroom with wallpaper or finishes that are too dark with lots of brown wood is an immediate turnoff for me. What I do like is a space with a light and bright feeling. Having white walls throughout your living area reflects light and makes the space feels bigger than it is.

When I choose RV travel destinations, I place a high value on big views outside. Having a large bathroom space with plenty of natural light and pretty views instantly improves ones bathroom experience. Bright, light colors can make any smaller bathroom space feel larger.

Light colors also don't let dirt or bacteria (yuck!) hide. So, while considering your next RV purchase and considering features at your local RV dealership, such as countertop colors, keep the vanity solid surfaces light.

This is a great segue into my next point, easy to clean.

9. Easy to clean

For optimal cleanliness, I recommend big bathrooms with nonporous surfaces on the walls and the ceiling -- and yes, the ceiling is especially important. Frankly, lots of (fake) grouted tile or wooden walls in a bathroom are a nail in the coffin because small cracks, seams, and wood trap moisture.

You can't see it, but the wallpaper retains moisture, and eventually, you'll find mold back there. I like powder-coated or heat-treated paint epoxy coated metal finishes which are lightweight but also incredibly durable. It's basically the same stuff that's used on the exterior of commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers trucks so you know it's very, very stain and mildew resistant.

Best of all, it's easy to clean. Wash it like you wash your car with a natural multipurpose cleaner. And treated metal surfaces are waterproof and won't degrade and rot like wood now there's one exception, as I mentioned previously. If there's wood in the bathroom, I want teak or black walnut, which is very common in the marine industry because it weathers so well. And I want it on the floor in the shower or a wall in the shower as an accent to bring an element of warmth. This brings me to, yet, another great segue -- warm and inviting.

10. Warm and inviting

I've already discussed how bringing in natural light exudes peace and happiness, while darkness can manifest depression and stress so through the use of colors and textures we can very much control a space that's warm and inviting, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is a space that has a comfortable temperature.

Neither too cold nor too hot is great, so you want a nice ambient temperature when you're in the bathroom -- between 70 and 75 degrees. For most humans, the comfort zone is between 65 and 80 degrees, but I like it a little closer to 70. Whatever your preference, you want it to be controllable.

This includes warm surfaces to the touch, too, so the windows must be dual pane so the room retains the heat or cool inside whether it's hot or cold outside. We want to make sure the floor is warm, too, which can be accomplished with heating pads or hydroponic heating. Personally, I don't prefer either because they require a lot of energy. The best way to do this is to simply make the floor build a floor out of metal and create what I call passive heating warm floor circulation running throughout a basement that provides natural circulation around the space.

11. Ambient music

Ambient music is a nice luxury class feature in a bathroom. What I like best about ambient music is that it creates a true day spa experience. We may not even notice that in a luxury hotel there's always kind of some soft music playing in the background. Why not have some spa music in the bathroom? It's not complicated.

But the music needs to be independently controlled because the audio that you have inside the bathroom isn't necessarily the audio or the level of volume that you want in the rest of the travel trailer and since trailers are small spaces and others in the rest of the trailer may prefer another type of music or none at all. 

Music is also a great way to drown out background noise, especially if you're traveling in a place where there are outside distractions. Getting yourself away and disconnecting from the rest of the world and reconnecting with yourself is a part of good self-care and soothing music, such as a piano in the background makes for a relaxing time.

12. Endless hot water

While most of my tips are aesthetic and feed my soul this next one is a functional one -- endless hot water. If you've ever been the second, third or fourth person to take a shower in an RV, you know what I'm talking about. No one like to be the low man on the totem pole and get whatever water is left.

Fortunately, that doesn't need to occur anymore because of modern-day technology we have tankless water heaters and a large fresh water tank that can provide plenty of hot water. In my book, a tankless water heater is absolutely vital. What's more, is your propane which is a great fuel source -- it's the cleanest burning fossil fuel on earth.

Now there's another type of tankless water heater that transcends just heating water -- it also heats the space. Plus, it provides instant hot water through the entire plumbing system from the rear bathroom to the kitchen sink in front -- including all fixtures and faucets between! This is a beautiful design that provides immediate and endless hot water. Outstanding!

13. Towel warmer

Next, is a functional element that may seem too luxurious, but for me it's essential and that is a towel warmer -- for me, it's vital because it serves multiple purposes. Of course, it preheats your bath towel, silly, but I like to turn on the towel warmer a few minutes before my shower to heat up the room.

Now towels are great to have a warm towel when you get out of the shower. Yes, it's very comforting and very luxurious, but it also is very functional because wet towels and a travel trailer don't mix. Remember, excess water is one of the primary sources of humidity and condensation. A towel that's drawing all of that moisture from your body has to evaporate and go somewhere, even if it takes a long time. And over time, it can get moldy - a moldy bathroom is no bueno

So a towel warmer overcomes this problem because the heat dries out your towel quickly which reduces the overall humidity.

14. Humidity control

We all know now that humidity control is very important in a travel trailer, and partly solved by installing a towel warmer, but of course, all electric appliances that create heat (or cold for that matter) use a lot of energy so you'll need a powerful energy system to run these electrical appliances.

Humidity control is related to the natural ventilation topic discussed earlier and there are lots of ways to reduce high humidity. The best way to keep your RV's overall humidity low is keep the bathroom warmer than the rest of the travel trailer because the greater the differential in temperature the more humidity is created.

This is where the trailer's construction quality is key. The tighter the envelope, which means the less air coming in and out, the better. The ideal scenario is that you really want to control the flow of humid air in and out.

The humidity in a small bathroom space will trap water everywhere on the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. Unless you wipe down all of these surfaces each time you shower, that water condensation is going to raise the humidity of your entire travel trailer. The same occurs in the kitchen when you're running water in the sink.

The simplest tip to remove the moisture inside is to turn on ceiling and stove vents, open windows, doors, and even a sliding glass door, if your travel trailer has one.

When we lived on a boat in the harbor we had several dehumidifiers running in each room. You'll be surprised how much water is collected in just one day!

15. Quality

The last item on my list is to maximize quality. This one is kind of all-encompassing because a luxurious bathroom is only as good as the quality and the design philosophy that it was built around.

When you enter a five-star hotel and walk into the large bathroom it's self-evident that the attention to detail really elevates the experience. For me, quality finishes and fixtures bring it all together.

While I have a passion for minimalism and simple intentional design, functional design is not possible without quality, because when you strip everything down all the superfluous and unnecessary stuff quality is all that really matters.

You don't really need the ornamental bling when you have the bare minimum. There's nothing left that can be taken away if the design is not well executed and well-conceived then materials wear out over time.

One example of this in a travel trailer is the way that two materials come together -- this is extremely important. The union of materials and the way that intersection happens is extremely important, especially in bathrooms because they receive lots of wear and tear.

Using metal versus wood or high-quality wood products versus fake plastic laminates made to look like wood or tile means the manufacturer is relying on glues, beaded molding, and caulking to cover up a host of poor designs and workmanship.

It might shock you how many million-dollar travel trailers use a lot of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) with fake veneers, which means there are a lot of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) off-gassing into your cozy home. This is a major no, bueno.

And while those inherently poor quality materials come with cheap prices, they will fall apart in a few years after your warranty has run out, guaranteed. Even the best bathroom, no matter how great it looks, without quality isn't really worth much.