Graphic of poop emoji with the text "Pooping in Paradise"

Pooping IN Paradise

Here’s tHe Poop: First Installment

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A hand sprayer bidet attachment with a toilet in the background. Text on image says "#Bidet All Day"
If you know, you know!

So I’ve traveled hither and yon since I was itty-bitty.  I grew up and currently reside in the United States, so understand that is where my primary potty experiences come from.  As I traveled, I realized that bathroom habits around the world were not, as I so ignorantly assumed, the same!  


Indeed, there are so many variations to the toilets I’ve encountered in my life (and, I have to guess, will continue to encounter) that I felt like it deserved its own dedicated section.  I want to be the place you can come to when you need the real poop (ha!) on what you might encounter in foreign powder rooms.  

My most recent travels took me to Cairo, Egypt.  And let me tell you, there are some things you might want to know about before you get there so you can go into your first potty experience like a pro.  Here are my top tips to know before you go (ha!  The puns abound!):

  • Bidets – In most of the Middle East, you will find bidets, even in a lot of public restrooms.  If you’ve never used one, or don’t know what they are, check out my informative video here.  Bidets are basically hydro-toilet paper.  They either squirt a jet of water up your backside or you can spray with a handheld sprayer to clean yourself up.  
  • Sprayer bidet: if you have a sprayer bidet (basically looks like the same sprayer attached to the kitchen sink), try it out by spraying in the toilet first.  You definitely don’t want to give yourself an enema, and sometimes they are powerful depending on the pressure you give the trigger, so better to check first. 
Side view of toilet with sprayer attachment bidet mounted on the wall.
Handheld sprayers are attached within easy reach.
Close up of a toilet seat with a built-in bidet
Built-In Bidet
Photo of a stand-alone bidet next to a toilet
Stand Alone Bidet
  • Built-in bidets: you will also find most toilets have built-in bidets.  These are tiny spouts at the back of the bowl and are turned on by a knob, usually located in an easily reached spot toward the lower back of the toilet.  Try these out as well before going, but know that they can be extremely powerful – I once tested one at a public restroom and the spray jettisoned out of the bowl and down my shirt.  Not cool.
  • Stand-alone bidets: This trip, I didn’t find any stand alone bidets, but I’ve encountered them often in European countries.  We had one in our hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.  They function much like the built-in bidets, you just have to move your tush over to it instead of having it all in one spot.  Play with the knobs to make sure the pressure isn’t scary.      Bidets are gaining popularity stateside, so if you’re interested in installing one, check out this version you can grab from Amazon and add to your existing toilet.  Let’s be real here – it’s a great way to ensure that your butt is clean.  When you think about it, it’s way better than just wiping with boring old TP.

The real poop…

  • Diarrhea – When I was staying in Cairo, I was with my husband and his family (they live in a suburb of Cairo).  After some adventurous eating (post coming soon about best places to eat in Egypt – hopefully I can steer you away from the digestive distress I experienced!) I had a day of emergency bathroom trips.  When I lamented my pooping problems to my husband and sister-in-law, they told me it was a rite of passage as a first-time visitor to Egypt.  If you travel a lot, you know – if it’s not constipation, it’s diarrhea!  Argh.  Luckily, my sister-in-law had a great recommendation for some over the counter remedies, and I was all set after about 24 hours.  Typically I have a mini-medicine cabinet in my carry-on (post coming soon about my must-have carry-on items), but I usually tend to swing toward the constipated side, so I didn’t have any anti-diarrheal meds with me.  Now I’ll add this to my pouch of meds and be even more prepared! 
  • Attendants – Don’t be alarmed when you encounter someone sitting or standing by the bathroom door, sometimes ushering you into a stall.  Almost every public toilet I entered was staffed by an attendant.  Often, they will pre-clean a stall for you (wiping down the seat, flushing).  They also may offer you paper towels after you wash your hands.  It is a bonus when there is an attendant when you encounter a stall with no TP (which is prevalent!).  It is a little uncomfortable when you’re the only one in the bathroom and you’ve got some boisterous bowels after eating exotic meals (see Diarrhea above).  Tipping is common in Egypt, so if you feel the bathroom service was excellent, giving the attendant a few pounds is happily accepted, but not required.
Be prepared for anything!
graphic with woman squatting and a toilet behind her. Above is the text, "#SquatLife"

Squat Mode

  • The Squat – while the majority of toilets in Egypt are clean and even have attendants, there are some nasty ones you may have to use (just like every country, around the world).  The Cairo airport does not have gleaming facilities, and after a 4 and a half hour flight from London, I couldn’t wait.  Luckily, having experienced yucky bathrooms in many different countries, I feel I have perfected the squat.  Guys, you probably don’t have to deal with this, but ladies, listen up.
  • To squat and pee, I position myself over the bowl, make sure I have some TP in hand, and then brace myself with my free hand against the wall behind the toilet.  It ain’t pretty, but it works if the toilet is not so fresh.  And when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
A photo of an opened pocket pack of tissues, sitting on top of a flat white tissue. Pack and tissue are atop gray colored wood flooring.
No TP? No Problem!

Ninja Toilet Tricks

Secret Weapon: Travel Tissues – if you have ever been ANYWHERE and have used the bathroom only to find that there is no toilet paper, this tip is for you.  Carry a pocket size tissue pack (they sell them in 8 packs at the Dollar Tree!) with you at all times.  I learned this fast in Egypt where many a time I was in a stall with no TP.  Didn’t think to bring tissues?  Collect paper napkins at cafes or restaurants as you’re dining and stash them in your purse, pocket or fanny pack.  They are great alternatives in a pinch.  Just remember, do not flush paper napkins or tissues down the sensitive systems in Egypt (see Toilet Paper tip above); just dispose of them in the receptacle in the stall. 

Have a hilarious bathroom experience in another land you want to share?  Drop a comment below!

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