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bathroom sign
Ladies, when you’ve got to go, well… you’ve got to go. But when you’re traveling, it’s not always a fun experience. Foreign bathrooms are often dirty, smelly and sometimes require a bit more muscle than usual. But a little bit of preparedness can go a long way in making the trip to the far-off loo a little more tenable.

Here are five things you’ll need in order to be prepared to visit the bathroom in any destination.

Toilet paper
Running into a stall and discovering too late that the toilet paper dispenser is empty can happen anywhere, but in many overseas bathrooms you won’t even find a dispenser. Make sure you’ve always got a pocket pack of travel toilet paper or facial tissues with you wherever you go. Your best bet is to keep a packet in your pocketbook or backpack, your jacket pocket, your pants pockets and any other place you can think of.

Food Safety: How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

Hand sanitizer
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to a bathroom overseas where there was no soap, and sometimes not even water, to wash my hands. And whether I managed to get by without touching door knobs and flush handles didn’t matter. First of all, I always like to wash my hands, and second, if the bathroom is disgusting I’m going to feel dirty after using it. A little hand sanitizer goes a long way to relieving my discomfort. I always keep a bottle in any bag I’m carrying with me. I know sanitizer doesn’t trump soap if it’s available, but when there’s nothing else, sanitizer can save the day

Peppermint oil
I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but I think we can all agree that restrooms can get pretty smelly – to put it mildly. And roadside bathrooms are among the worst. I vividly recall stopping at a room of toilets (it really didn’t deserve to be called a bathroom) alongside a highway in Romania. The smell was so bad I couldn’t stay long enough to… I think you get the picture. Nowadays, I try to carry a small bottle of peppermint oil with me. A little dab rubbed on the skin under my nose manages to mask the worst odors at least long enough for me to do what needs to be done.

Four Common Travel Disasters and How to Prevent Them

Steady balance and strong thighs
I apologize but I’m about to get a little more personal for these next preparedness tips. I don’t think I know a single woman who hasn’t at some point had to squat over a toilet she didn’t want to sit on. And unless you can pee really, really fast, your thigh muscles are going to get a workout. It’s even worse when you don’t have a seat. Most world travelers have done the Turkish toilet at least once – you know the one where there is simply a hole in the ground and two elevated foot prints to plant your feet on? That doesn’t just take strong thigh muscles; that takes balance too. If you know you’re going to be traveling somewhere these two scenarios might play out, I suggest starting a regimen of squats and balance exercises right now.

Go Girls, Whizzys and P-Mates
This blog post is primarily for the ladies because let’s face it, it’s much easier to find a less disgusting place to pee when you can do it standing up. For the more adventurous ladies among us, you too, can join the men’s club. There are numerous products out there that claim to give women the ability to pee while standing. They come in plastic and paper varieties, vary in funnel shape and in my experience are messy to use. But maybe I did something wrong. The only way to find out is to test one out yourself.

– written by Dori Saltzman

8 Responses to “Five Tips for Bathroom Preparedness”

  1. Beth says:

    Maybe people might also keep rubber (plastic) gloves in purses, pants pockets, backpacks or whatever. Then they can hold on to walls or other places without fear of contamination. They don’t weigh much or take up much space and can be bought for little money.

  2. Holly says:

    I travel with little packets of sanitary wipes that I use to disinfect toilet seats and lots and lots of change as many bathrooms charge for their use (but they are usually clean and sticked with paper).

  3. Rolf says:

    Why is it that writers use slang terms to us as though we are children? Even children are to be addressed and spoken to in proper language if we wish to teach them well. Why use potty instead of the word toilet? Why say pee instead of urinate? These are normal human conditions. What will it take to have writers and speakers use and exhibit proper English with respect for the individuals?

  4. Kim says:

    Because it’s less clinical sounding and in the case of “pee vs. urinate”, it’s two syllables shorter – similar to nicknames – Kim vs. Kimberly. “Ur” doesn’t quite cut it. It has nothing to do with being treated as a child, rather, it’s less clinical. Tell me, do you call nostrils nares? Why not? Because nostrils is less clinical and more accepted for daily use among those not in the medical field. I’m a doctor and I don’t say “urinate” expect on a professional basis. On a car trip, I tell my husband, “Can we stop? I need to pee”.

  5. Patricia Koko says:

    For a long time I used to take the roll off the spool at home when down to the last 1/4 inch or so and remove the tube, flatten the paper and put in a sandwich bag for carrying with me. Lately trips to mostly cities the packets have not been necessary but I still have them in the travel box to add to luggage when the possibility of unusual “loos” might be in the future. Travel companies do have “to go” packets with tissue, seat cover, hand sanitizer towelette all in one for reasonable prices should one not want to assemble their own.

  6. masterradfox says:

    No wonder the bathrooms here for public use are getting that way (as discussed above}. I guess hygiene is not as strict as we Americans “try” to be. I thought the comments on learning to squat over facility was a good point but you should have added the point of wiping not just yourself but the seat if any in case someone behind you falls while squatting. Or at least aim properly like the boys are taught to do when learning to urinate standing up. I just feel that one should not leave a mess for the next person to clean up prior to having to use the facility. As fro the smell, the use of peppermint oil is a good idea but if you don’t have that handy carry a small jar of vapor rub. The menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor will overcome a lot of foul odor.

  7. With the influx of viruses, one needs to take as many precautions as possible! Always use hand sanitiser *after* you have completely exited the toilet.

  8. thelmasmith says:

    You missed the most important one for women. When you wear a skirt and a petticoat you can gather up and stuff the fabric into your bra straps or under your chin; no fabric to trail in the filth of a missing third world toilet. If you wear trousers you are in deep filth no matter what you do. I, personally, would rather not let my pants waft through the filth on the floor.

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