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.
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.
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.
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.
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