Today is UN World Toilet Day, likely to bring a giggle from some – yes it’s a real UN-designated day – but not really a laughing matter.
World Toilet Day was established last year by UN resolution, commemorating the date of the first World Toilet Summit on 19 November where the World Toilet Organisation (WTO) was established. The WTO is a global non-profit organization committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide; did you know that 2.5 billion people – that’s 40% of the world’s population – do not have regular access to toilets?
Most of my readers likely take toilets for granted – their scarcity is something that only seems to become apparent when we are travelling. Any parent of young children (or pregnant ladies!) can tell you what an important role toilets play in our journeys, in fact you probably spend more time looking for the nearest toilet facility than admiring tourist sites when travelling with under 5’s.
I could probably set up a whole separate page with tales of my children’s (and my preggie lady) toilet misdemeanors, nappy blow outs and near calls but let’s cut out the crap and get on with dealing in this messy but oh so important subject; Here are my top 10 quick and easy tips for dealing with toileting while travelling;
In this article we will cover
Always take twice the number of nappies on a plane than you’d normally go through in that period of time. Not only will this prepare you in the event of any flight delays, children’s tummies can be affected by cabin pressure which can impact on bowel movements. Don’t forget to pack spare undies and trousers for those already toilet trained as well.
Bring a port-a-potty
Even if your young child is newly potty trained, still take a fold out port-a-potty with you. In Asia particularly I would have found this immensely helpful in dealing with squat toilet-phobia, messy floors and the general absence of any facilities for miles.
No potty training
If you are considering toilet training perhaps hold off until after any major travels, changing a nappy is far easier than changing a whole outfit multiple times per day and some children have phobias of using unfamiliar toilets (my very much toilet trained Miss 3 developed a sudden phobia of the plane toilet on a six hour flight – needless to say she couldn’t hold that long).
Diversify your nappies!
If your child usually wears pull-up nappies, bring some conventional wrap-around nappies with you as well. In plane toilets or when there are less than savoury bathroom floor conditions and its simply not feasible to change nappies lying down you will be thankful for this (and perhaps practice doing the quick change pants around the ankles before you go if you are not familiar with this technique – use this as soon as you child can stand supported).
Plan potty stops
Before a day of sightseeing or activities, it will pay to familiarise yourself on a map with the nearest facilities. If you know when your baby globetrotter is likely to need to relieve themselves, try and time a rest stop around this. Always take advantage of toilet facilities every time you see them even if little ones protest the need to go; ‘just in case’ should become a mantra in your travels. Thank you to the McDondalds and Starbucks world over who have come to our rescue on multiple occasions.
Be pocket prepared
Keep a few coins and tissues in your pocket. In Europe particularly, toilets tend to be paid for; when you’re in a rush the last thing you want is to be digging through your bag so keep your supplies near the top or in your pockets ready to go. You may find even if you’re not eating at a restaurant they may take sympathy on your plight on let you use their facilities; I always try to politely purchase something from them or offer some coins for their troubles.
It goes without saying cleanliness while travelling is vital. You are far more susceptible to germs in public toilets, and fair to see hygiene standards and toileting practices are probably below what you may be used to at ‘home’ always carry hand gel and baby wipes (even with older ones) and use good hygiene practices in the bathroom and before you eat.
Nappy change facilities
Be prepared for the fact even in the most modernised cities, if there is a nappy change table it’s highly likely if not in the disabled toilet to be in the ladies, mums might be doing the lions share of the nappy changes on the go (dads do speak up if you don’t think this is the case?)
Jet lag effects
Even if your child is normally predictable, jet lag can affect bowel movements and throw them out of whack as much as the unfamiliar surroundings. Like everything with children’s travel, try not to pack too much in and make time for toilet stops interrupting the best laid plans.
Baby Globetrotters opinion
The best toilets in the world – pretty much anywhere in Tokyo. From emitting a fragrance to playing music, the Japanese seem to have toilets sorted. Change the tone of your toilet flush perhaps? ‘nough said.
The best view – they might be drop toilets but you can’t beat the vista from the Bluff Knoll car park in the Stirling Ranges, Western Australia (had I known I was writing this article I would of taken a photo!)
The worst toilets I’ve ever had to use – Dong Xuan Markets in Hanoi.
More information about World Toilet Day and WTO visit http://worldtoilet.org/
© Our Globetrotters