The Toilets of the World, Part 2: Incommodious Commodes

On a recent international trip, while yearning for the comfort and cleanliness of my own home bathroom, it occurred to me that when I wrote my first "Toilets of the World" post a few years ago, I'd concentrated more on public restrooms as a whole rather than on the toilets themselves. 

Something must be done! I thought over the sound of flushing toilets and the wooshing of electric hand dryers.

The world needs this!

Toilets of the World, Part 2: Incommodious Commodes
  1. The Preemptive Flusher. This eager toilet auto-flushes three times while you're still sitting down and then refuses to flush again once you're actually done. You can stand up, wave your hand in front of the sensor, or do jumping jacks, but for all this toilet cares, the show's over. 
  2. The Splash Zone. Like Old Faithful, this geyser can be counted on to shoot jets of water straight into the air with each flush. Unlike real geysers, however, the worst aspect of the toilet-geyser is that even when you know the splash is coming, the confining nature of the standard toilet stall--coupled with the fact that most stall doors tend to swing inward--make a quick escape impossible.
  3. The Loose Seat. This wobbly circle unsettles your balance, nearly spilling you into that damp, scary place between the commode and the wall. Guaranteed to give you an adrenaline spike that will last the rest of the day.
  4. The Paid Loo. The Paid Loo really is a mixed blessing. While it's generally cleaner than standard public toilets, you try digging 50p out of your bag when you really have to go. 
  5. The No-paper Special. Self-explanatory.
  6. The Wading Pool. Whether from a leaky bowl or from the aforementioned geyser effect, this toilet is surrounded by puddles deep enough to require wading boots. May I suggest cuffing your jeans before approaching the stall, just in case?
  7. The Sierra Mist. Not to be crass, but this toilet seat has been dusted by a fine, suspiciously-hued spray prior to your arrival. Best to move along ASAP. 
  8. The Squatty. Dangerous if you have poor balance, but a great way to learn multitasking and keep yourself limber into old age. It's a bathroom break and an isometric workout all rolled into one!
  9. The Backless Wonder. This occurs when the flushing mechanism to the toilet has broken, and management has removed the lid to the toilet tank so that you may more conveniently reach in to flush the toilet yourself. Sticking your hand into a watery toilet tank is gross enough when it's your own toilet at home. But in a gas station bathroom? Your best bet is to carry one of those plastic dinosaur grabbers in your travel bag just in case. 
  10. The Crime Scene: 

The above photo, taken by my friend Alissa while we road tripped together through the American Southwest, demonstrates one of the downsides to travel: you never really know what will await you behind the next stall door.

One upside to traveling, however, is that.... well.... you're traveling

Sure, public toilets can be a nuisance, and you have the right to cringe every time you feel the call of nature while on a trip.

But still! You're out there having a blast and seeing the world! dodgy toilet at a time. 


  1. India takes the prize for a lot of things... toilets included! My favorite was a hole in the ground with two bricks on each side. It also had a four foot high, three sided frame covered only with bubble wrap- you know, for privacy. And yes, most of the bubbles were popped, at least by the time I got out of there anyway.


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