Traveling and Toilets: What You Should Know About Using the Facilities Abroad

Yes, we’re talking toilets today. While we may not think much of them, finding them is often an important part of traveling. So, you’ve got your passport, travel documents, you’ve had your immunizations, and you’re ready to go. You’ve brushed up on the local language, booked your accommodations, what more is there to do? Well, it might help to know a little about the bathrooms in your destination country.

Water Closet
Irina Torsunova /

Toilets, Water Closets, and More

Obviously, you should know what to call the bathroom, so you can ask for it when needed. Honestly, if there’s just one word you should memorize in the native language, it’s the word for a restroom.

You’ll likely find that restrooms vary from country to country as well as on your mode of transportation, too. Most airline lavatories are similar, but on trains, they may not be as you expect. Some don’t even flush – rather, anything that goes in simply ends up on the railroad tracks.

Men can even find special toilets right out in the open in certain countries.

Pay-to-Use Toilets

In some countries, you may find pay toilets. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have change available in the local currency. Additionally, there may be an attendant that you’ll need to tip if you want toilet paper or a hand towel.

Toilet Paper and Bidets

Another thing you may notice is that toilet paper varies quite a bit from one place to the next. In some countries, it can be quite rough. You may also find bidets are quite common in some regions as well.

When traveling in some areas – especially in Eastern Europe – you may find tp is not located within the restroom stall. While sometimes it may be available outside of the stall, sometimes it’s not available at all. It’s often a good idea be prepared for the worst case scenario. That’s why we suggest purchasing a small, travel-sized roll from a local convenience store.

The Dreaded Squat Toilets

In some more remote areas and countries like Turkey, you may find yourself faced with using a squat toilet. These are also common in a lot of Asian countries as well. Essentially, it’s just a hole in the ground, though many of them do flush. (Note: be prepared to move your feet from the imprints before flushing if you don’t want them to get wet.)

Finding the Best Toilets

If you wish to find a more western toilet, it often helps to ask around. And, if you want to find the best or most interesting restroom experience possible, check the International Toilet Tourism Awards. Yes, it’s really a thing – these awards are given to some of the most intriguing toilets around the world. There are categories like Best Design, Best Location, and even Quirkiest Toilet Experience.