You'd think that for someone who has been exposed (pardon the pun) to pretty much every type of toilet out there, that I'd be a pro by now. Not so, not so. Of course, my lack of expertise will not prevent me from sharing with you my top 5 tips for using a toilet while traveling. I should clarify this is really more pertinent for women. Count your lucky stars, guys!
1. Never look down. Really, NEVER look at the floor. Some things are better left to your imagination. I recall having to go to the bathroom at one of the designated rest points along the Inca Trail and wishing I had just dug my hole and gone in the bush as advised. The "squish" I heard and felt as I stepped into the outhouse still rings in my ears.
2. Never look in the direction of the person calling your name. It will inevitably result in you wearing pee-stained trousers and sandals for the rest of your safari. My husband thought it would be funny to pretend that one of our safari-mates was coming over while I was crouching next to a bush wearing my only pair of clean trousers. I have since explained to him the difference bewteen men's private parts and women's private parts and why forcing a woman who is squatting to whip around is not a very nice thing to do.
3. Don't pee on a Thai train. Or any train that doesn't have a western toilet. Trains tend to rock back and forth quite a bit, you see. It will inevitably result in you wearing pee-stained trou...hmmm, wait a minute...what's that saying about learning from your mistakes? Nope, don't seem to remember it... Okay, okay, I'm ordering my She Pee right now!
4. Always carry toilet paper with you. I know, it's a no-brainer. But it needed to be said. I take the cardboard roll out of the center, then squish it down as flat as possible and shove it in a ziploc bag. Believe it or not, I am still working on the same roll of toilet paper that I packed for my first solo trip 10 years ago! (Too much information?) I will clarify and say that I've been extremely lucky in that department and haven't needed to use the emergency stash too often.
5. Master the art of Mouth Breathing. This is basically breathing in and out of your mouth and closing off your nasal passage. Like the opposite of gym class. It makes the throat feel a bit raw if prolonged use is necessary, but your olfactory memory will thank me, I promise.
6. And, since this is a family blog, here's one for the kids: potty train your kids early...because the only thing worse than having to use one of the above-mentioned toilets is having to change your kid's diaper in one! (And, if you can spare the space, bring along a portable potty seat so they don't fall into any of the cesspools you may encounter.)