You might call it the restroom, the loo, the toilet, the bathroom … but whatever your choice, one thing is for sure. At certain times when you are travelling you’re going to have to rely on finding public conveniences for your peeing needs. If you’re travelling in the USA, there’s even ‘an app for that‘. Actually, there are several – it’s obviously a common problem.
If you’re in a remote area then your answer is going to be a convenient bush or large rock. But what if you’re in a strange city? Where can you find a lovely loo for your bodily functions? Or what if you’re on a road with lots of traffic but not a bush or large rock in sight? Of course, this is largely a girl thing…
Well in the latter case you have several options especially if you’re travelling by car or truck:
- Park your vehicle in such a way that it provides a screen between you and onlookers
- Ask your companion to hold up a makeshift screen – a coat, a blanket, sarong, shawl, plastic tablecloth – whatever you have to hand
- A sun umbrella – or even a regular umbrella at a push – can cover your modesty
- Frequent road trippers might consider purchasing in inexpensive pop-up privacy tent – you can use this on the beach for getting changed as well as other more pressing purposes
- If you have a large plastic tablecloth or similar, you can put it over your head and when you squat down, you’ll be in your own private loo – assuming it isn’t too windy
- Use the v-shaped area between the body of your vehicle and the open door. Hang that plastic tablecloth over it if you require additional privacy.
It’s very important though to get over any embarrassment you might feel. Everyone, absolutely everyone, needs to go to the loo! Even if you’re out in the open and a car zooms past and its occupants see exactly what you’re doing, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not likely that you’ll ever see them again, after all.
In more civilised surroundings, you’ll find that most places have public facilities, which is where a good app comes in handy. But consider these places too:
- Museums generally have great facilities
- Use truck stops and filling stations
- Department store loos are often very good
- Large supermarkets and stores such as Target, Ikea, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble etc. have public restrooms
- In bars, cafés and pubs, the facilities are often for customers only but in busy places you can sneak in. Or send your companion to get the drinks in if you’re really in a hurry
- I’ve used the facilities in fast food places many times and no one has ever bothered. Same with Starbucks
- Public transport places – bus and train stations usually have facilities although they are not guaranteed to be wonderful
- Shopping malls ditto
- Small hotels are likely to spot someone sneaking in to use the loo but busy, posh ones won’t
You can also consider keeping a P-Mate in your bag. It sounds weird if you’ve never tried this clever little device but it allows you to pee standing up so in a real emergency, even in a city, you can duck into an alley or secluded doorway, just like a bloke would.
There are one or two things to make sure you have with you tucked in your bag.
- Small pack of tissues – for obvious reasons
- Hand sanitiser
- Small change – in some places, you need to pay for public facilities with a few coins
- Wet wipes – for all manner of contingencies
- If you have space in your bag, consider disposable toilet seat covers
- Strong mints or similar – put one in your mouth before you go in and even the stinkiest toilet will be more pleasant
Use your phone for more than just toilet-finding apps. If you don’t know the language of the country where you’ll be travelling take a photograph of your loo. Then, instead of fumbling about asking locals where you can find one, all you have to do is show someone the pic.
A good translation app is a great idea too. In airports and such places, the restrooms will have international symbols which will show you which one is for the ladies but would you know the word in a bar in a remote town in Cambodia?
Whenever you pass a restroom, even though you might not need to, it’s as well to stop in and squeeze a little out if you can. Do not look a gift loo in the mouth.
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.