People are finding it harder and harder to find places that allow you to hook up to water in order to fill your RV water tanks. And this is not all that surprising – with so many more RVs on the road since covid, and the popularity of vanlife, many usual places that used to allow free water have stopped doing it, or are now charging a fee.
Even if you are conservative with water use, you will usually need to refill your water while on the road.
Watch for signs on any water source whether it is potable water (ie. water that is safe to drink) or not. While those who carry bottled water for drinking don’t find it necessary, I still recommend using potable water only, so you have a backup drinking water supply that you don’t need to treat (such as boil or use water tablets) for first.
- RV parks and campgrounds: Most RV parks and campgrounds have water hookups where you can fill up your tank. Some may charge a fee for this service, while others may offer it for free as part of your stay. Rules around filling up tanks greatly vary, especially if you are not staying there.
- Gas stations and truck stops: Most truck stops have water fill up access. Some may charge a fee or is only included as part of a fill-up. If you are not near any truck stops, and only regular gas stations, some will go inside and ask about water and say they will fill up with gas/diesel if they can also fill up on water.
- Rest stops: You can also find water sources in public areas like rest areas, since many of them also have dump stations, especially along major freeways/highways. Some may have designated RV water filling stations, while others may have regular water spigots that you can use.
- National parks and forests: Many national parks and forests have water filling stations, but it’s always best to check ahead of time to make sure they are available and operational – some do not run through winter months due to freezing temperatures.
- Lowes: Yes, Lowes has begun offering water fill up taps at some locations!
- Private water sources: Some RVers may choose to ask for permission to fill up their water tanks from private sources like farms, local businesses, or even homes along their route. However, it’s important to always ask for permission and to respect the property owner’s wishes.
For emergency situations, having a water bandit and a 4 way sillcock key can be a lifesaver. The sillcock key will allow access to water sources on the sides of buildings, as it will allow you to open the industrial hose connector or tamper resistant connector, normally in place to prevent non-authorized use. Many carry them for either emergency situations or to ask at a business while offering the ability to unlock it yourself, and tipping the employee who allowed it.
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The sillcock will allow you to unlock the water tap, and then the water bandit is used to “attach” to the tap (since they do not use regular tap connections).
When filling up your RV water tank, it’s important to make sure that the water is safe to drink. You may want to consider using a water filtration system or carrying bottled water for drinking purposes.