You’ve put together your packing list, double checked your important documents, and you’re confident you’re all set for your next trip.
But are you?
Your travel agent might not share this, but I will: Bathroom facilities around the world can and do vary greatly. While in parts of Asia, especially upscale city centers, you could encounter robot-type toilets with an eye-opening range of rinse and dry options. Some toilets include bidets that give the user an “extra wash” option as well.
However, the squat pot -- another type of toilet your travels may introduce you to -- offers a set of challenges all its own. To skip the surprise, and make sure you have everything you need to go while on the go, follow these tips.
While most hotels have Western toilets, when you are touring in Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe, you’ll likely encounter a urinal-type contraption built right into the floor with no seat. While it seems strange to many, some consider squat toilets cleaner than their seated counterparts because they eliminate physical contact between the toilet and the person using it. At any rate, they are different for sure, and will take some extra maneuvering.
Do not leave your hotel room without toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a plastic grocery bag. Many restrooms don’t stock soap, TP, or paper towels. If you don’t bring your own, you’ll wish you had. The plastic bag will come in handy to lay on the ground as a place to put your bag if there aren’t hooks on your stall. Trust me, the floors can be yucky.
The smell can be pretty oppressive. Enough said.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your pants or skirt are safe from the splash zone. Pull them up and as far out of the way as possible to avoid an unfortunate mess. You might even consider removing them completely. Next, you’ll want to line yourself up over the toilet and squat all the way down. Hug your knees for support, as many stalls do not have grab bars. If you’re unsteady, turn around and grab the plumbing rod at the back of the toilet for support.
PS: Make sure to empty your pockets. The last thing you want is for your phone or wallet to end up in the toilet!
Squat toilets can vary. Some include hoses that you can rinse with if you choose to. You’ve brought your own toilet paper, but trash it, don’t flush it, as it could clog the pipes. What’s more: Not every squat pot includes a flush mechanism. If there’s no handle, but a bucket of water with a ladle instead, guess what? You get to “flush” the toilet yourself. Be as careful as you can to avoid splashback.
If you are traveling to a part of the world where you know you’ll encounter a squat toilet, it never hurts to practice before heading abroad. These are muscles many of us don’t work on a daily basis, and you’ll want to make sure you’re as limber as possible before heading out on your vacation.
One last tip: If the idea of dealing with a squat toilet is freaking you out (and ladies, let’s face it, aiming is tough) there are female funnels on the market that will make the process a lot easier on both your joints and potentially your state of mind.