Yes, I know it’s an awkward question. And yes, I know that if you’re from the USA you probably prefer to use the discreet euphemism ‘bathroom tissue’ but you knew exactly what I was talking about.
Strangely, a surprising number of people don’t – they don’t carry toilet paper with them. I have it with me at all times but I believe that it’s essential when you’re travelling.
There’s no point beating about the bush and being coy. We are likely to need it from time to time for its intended purpose. And it’s also useful in probably 700 different ways in addition to wiping up messes, fixing dodgy mascara applications, blowing your nose, cleaning the windscreen, dealing with not-quite-clean glasses in that quaint bar, scooping whatever you slopped down your t-shirt when eating, cleaning your hands after that melting ice cream cone, cleaning errant children, removing smudges from your sunglasses….
The list can go on and on.
In some otherwise civilised places, the provision of toilet paper for its intended purpose, in the place where you need it most, is woefully lacking.
Some places, notably restaurants as far as I can see, feel it’s necessary to limit the number of loo-paper sheets that a toilet-visitor is likely to use. (And I don’t know about you but I think it’s up to me to determine my own levels of hygiene, thank you).
This means that you are faced with one of those huge metal dispensers that grudgingly, very grudgingly, let you tear out half a sheet of horrible scratchy paper at a time. You can sit there for ages, getting half sheet after half sheet, as your soup just gets colder and colder at the dinner table.
In some places that are marked as conveniences, you’ll find that they are far from convenient when it comes to providing you with the necessary amenities. Okay, it might not be the fault of the gas station, public park, truck stop or wherever you are, it might be that previous occupants who haven’t had the sense to carry loo paper in their bag have nicked it.
And, although I doubt it’s something you want to think about too closely, there are times – especially when you’re on a road trip – that your place of easement might be behind a bush or in a hedgerow. These venues supply no extras at all. Fallen leaves are all very well but it’s definitely better to be prepared…
Of course, you might be travelling in a country or region where toilet paper isn’t used. (Yes, this is not unusual. The internet – actually this handy site – tells me that only about 30 – 35% of the population use loo paper. You might not want to think about what the rest do but believe me, there are plenty of people in the world who consider that those of us who clean up using paper are rather unhygienic and rather revolting.
Okay, I don’t carry a full roll with me but about a quarter roll – it’s easy to appropriate one from the loo at home when needed and put it in my bag.
I acquired this habit many years ago from my very wise grandmother. She always carried loo paper in her bag and it’s amazing just how useful it could be. I’ve carried on the tradition ever since.*
*She also always had a five-pound note (this was a long time ago) pinned to her corset. A good idea and it came in useful several times that I can remember but a) I don’t wear corsets and b) a credit card does the trick.
How times change.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.