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DIY Composting Toilet in a Van with kids – roaming.nomads

The roaming.nomads family has been living on the road fulltime for 7 years. They travel with their two kids and dog all over the country, finding remote boondocking places that still miraculously have internet coverage. They have been using a composting toilet for 5 years.

What sort of space do you have?

We’ve been living in our Sprinter Van full-time for the last 4 years with our two kids (and the dog, but he doesn’t use the toilet…yet). It’s built-out to make life on the road comfortable and convenient, especially for the kids. 

What kind of composting toilet do you have?

We custom built a small composting toilet because we couldn’t find a toilet that fit our teeny-tiny van bathroom. It had to fit between the “bedroom” and shower pan and partly on the wheel well. Nothing you can find off the rack would fit. It’s a dry composting toilet, separating the liquids from the solids. 

Why did you choose a composting toilet?

We’ve had DIY composting toilets in the rigs we lived in before the van and we loved the simplicity of it. Our first two rigs had a regular RV toilet, and between the struggle of finding dump stations, using enough water to flush (and thus, wasting water), and just the nastiness of it, we were very much ready to find a better solution. Mixing solids and liquids really is a disgusting business. 

Another consideration was the size. Our van bathroom is sized at the absolute minimum and there would have been no space for a regular toilet. At least not one that would fit the contents for four people for long. 

What is your routine for managing your toilet?

We collect solids in a bucket that is lined with a regular heavy duty trash bag. It collects solids and toilet paper, and we use coco coir, wood stove ash, and coffee grounds for smell and moisture management. It has to be emptied about once every 4-6 days. 

Liquids are collected in our pee jug and we empty it out once a day on average. 

What do you like most about having a composting toilet?

About composting toilets in general is the simplicity of using it and how it doesn’t smell (about 95% of the time). Compared to dumping the black tank it’s a breeze to dispose of our waste (both in terms of finding places and actually handling the solids and liquids).

About our toilet in particular, I like how it fits our tiny bathroom, and how we can simply take out the trash bag, put in a new one, and be done with it. No churning, no taking the entire toilet out, no nooks and crannies that can’t be properly cleaned. It’s simple and sleek and perfect for everyday use. I also love that we can screw a lid on the jug if it’s full but we’re still driving, so it doesn’t spill. 

Is there anything that you would change about your toilet?

I would love to have an alarm/lamp for the liquids so we know when it’s time to empty it. 





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