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My Top 6 Places for Finding a Free Bathroom While Traveling

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We’ve all been there: You’re traveling around, and all of a sudden, the feeling hits you – you have to go. Sometimes you’re in a convenient location – you’re driving near a rest stop, or close to your house, but other times, you’re not so lucky. And at that point, you have to get creative and search for any place with a bathroom.

When I was traveling around making my debut album The Light Nearby, I lived out of my car for the entire 10 months, so I had to get really creative when finding bathrooms. Here are my top 6 places that always contain a free bathroom – starting with number 6, and working my way up to my absolute favorite place to find a free bathroom. Hopefully this helps you out!

6. Hotels

This is definitely the riskiest one on the list, but sometimes it’s the only option. If I’m near a hotel, I’ll quickly park in their parking lot, and then walk in as if I have a room there. The key is to walk in and then instantly turn to the right or left, acting like you know where you’re going. All hotels usually have a bathroom near the main lobby, and since there’s so many people constantly going in and out of a hotel, you shouldn’t have a problem getting stopped.

5. Gas Stations

When traveling on the highway there are tons of rest stops that contain a gas station, store, restroom, and more. However, when traveling around in a major city, finding a place to park and run it can be a bit more tricky. The advantage of a gas station is that it’s customary for people to come into the small store and then quickly run out to pump gas, so it won’t look as weird if you’re in and out within a few minutes.

4. Fast Food Chains

This is usually a go-to for most people, and I definitely had to include it on the list. The main reason why I put it at #4, however, is I’ve seen a lot more McDonalds, Burger Kings, etc start requiring you to purchase something before you can use the bathroom. This also depends upon the employee, and sometimes it can be a hassle. Pro Tip: Go to Panera Bread. Never had any issues there, and their bathrooms are a lot cleaner.

3. Coffee Shop Chains

While traveling around making The Light Nearby, this was my biggest bathroom spot, simply because I practically lived out of Starbucks. Like fast food chains, sometimes there is an issue with having to purchase something before hand, but it’s usually not that big of a deal. I also find that it’s common for people to hang out at a Starbucks and not purchase anything (like I did) – unlike a McDonalds, for example, which would be a bit weird.

2. Grocery Stores

This is an extremely underrated place to find a bathroom. Not only have I never seen the “purchase to use the bathroom” policy at a grocery store, there are so many people traveling in-and-out, so it just makes you another person in the crowd. Grocery stores are also my #1 spot for finding a bathroom within a city, because they usually have free parking for a temporary period of time.

1. Department Stores

It was tough to decide whether it would be Grocery Stores or Department Stores for my #1, but I ultimately went with Department Stores. Places like Walmart, Target, etc are perfect for finding a free bathroom because there’s always free parking, you don’t have to purchase anything, and you can quickly be in-and-out without any hassle. Another big advantage, specifically with Walmarts, is that I’ve been able to use the bathroom 24/7, which is really helpful if I’m sleeping in their parking lot.

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