Hello my dear Wanderlusters,
I know that right now, things are a little crazy….BUT despite all that I wanted to share a good piece of information to keep in mind for when we are able to start traveling again!
I have a funny story to start this blog post off: When I was on Turkey on my first deployment we made port in Antalya, one day on liberty I went out with my best friend, this deployment was her first time ever being away from the country. We were walking around downtown and she told me she needed to use the bathroom. I found us a public toilet to us and explained that she needed to pay to go to the bathroom…that was a shock to her. But she paid her money, they gave her a few squares of toilet paper and we walked in…suddenly I hear from my stall “PHYLICIA THERE IS NO TOILET – THERE IS A HOLE IN THE FLOOR! I PAID TO PEE IN A HOLE.” I couldn’t help myself, I was dying laughing!
While traveling you might need to use public bathrooms and depending on where in the world you are traveling you might be surprised what you find on the other side of the “stall” door.
For example: Around several countries in Europe you will find not only a traditional toilet but adjacent the toilet you will find a “bidet”, which is a French toilet to wash your rump when toilet paper wasn’t a thing…sound familiar?
Around most of Asia and the Middle East you will find what I’ve commonly heard as a “squatty potty” obviously not the actual name of the facility but this is like what my friend saw in Turkey!
Needless to say that not all toilets are built the same, they don’t look the same nor do they function the same. I’ve seen some awesome instruction signs up in bathrooms to explain how to properly use the toilet and whether or not you should flush toilet paper down. Most pluming around the world can’t support large amounts of toilet paper being flushed, even if you don’t see a sign to NOT flush – be considerate of where you are traveling and mindful.
Since the evolution of human beings, the squatting is the most natural posture for finishing your daily needs of the toilet. I know this will be weird for many Western travelers traveling abroad for the first time but I am hoping that this will help take away some of the initial shock.
Did you know that Indians are considered to be using the most authentic way to use the toilet? Along with squatting position the use of water is considered to be the most hygienic because a toilet paper is not only environmentally damaging but also is expensive for a poor country like India.
Tips on how to successfully use a public toilet in a foreign country:
- Bring baby wipes or flush-able wipes
Though you still shouldn’t flush these, it is always nice to have your own when using a public restroom, since some places also might charge you for toilet paper as well as using the restroom.
- Always have change on you
Small change for sure, I carry a coin purse for all my small Euros and this is not only to help my wallet not be so bulky but this also allows me to be able to have small change on hand in case I need to pay to use the restroom. TIP: You will usually only find that you will need to pay for a bathroom in larger populated areas like a tourist location, city square or mall.
- Hand Sanitizer
I know that this (along with the toilet paper) is a hot topic right now but this is always a good item to have on you anyways when traveling or even just in your backpack or purse in general. Many public restrooms, depending on the country, might not have soap available so better to be safe than sorry.
- Tissue paper
This one is more of a backup in case you forgot to pack your baby wipes. I carry a little pocket tissue pack with me when traveling in those “oops” moments.
Here is a fun breakdown of some of the worldwide designs of toilets!
European or western water closet: The European styled toilet has a flushing tank attached and comes with a seat and cover. The cover needs to be closed while flushing and it is generally made with ceramic or plastic materials. A small amount of water is always trapped inside by a water seal.
Kids toilets: Kid’s toilets are designed especially for kids under 12 years and they are relatively smaller in size. They come in both water closet and squatting toilet types. – I’ve seen this in a few places since moving to Spain and my daughter LOVES it! Located in the “family” stall there is a toilet for me and a mini one for my mini! It is fun for them and actually better for them too!
One-piece toilet: This type to the toilet does not need any separate flush tank because the tank is attached with the body itself. This is also called a single bowl toilet.
Water efficient toilets: They actually saves valuable water every time you flush. Recently all the new toilet systems use 2 liters of a water/0.58 gallon in the US. This has a positive impact in the future in saving natural resource.
Rim-free Toilet: This is most common for the wall hung toilets which are round or oval shaped. Those new models provide an effective flushing and easy clean method. This is expected to be the new choice for the future customers.
I hope you enjoyed my vast insight on toilets! I think it is important to prepare physically and mentally for things you might encounter while traveling, don’t be put off by them – embrace them!
More to come as we are working on enjoying some mandatory home time, I hope everyone out there is making smart choices and is staying safe during this crazy time in the world with the Corona Virus. We will overcome this!
Until then we are dreaming of more travel that we will enjoy soon!