I love planning a trip, packing for a trip and heading out the door on my next adventure. Mind you I am not talking about safaris, National Geographic excursions or back packing along the Appalachian trail. No, my travel involves trips to France, Italy, and the occasional cruise. Tame by some standards but challenging as well.
For the most part, my travels do not present imminent danger, but they do require some bare necessities. There can be obstacles to face, decisions on logistics, where to go, how to get there and where to stay are critical.
Often my solution is to delegate: I let my husband sort through the multitude of travel guides and on-line resources to narrow options down to a reasonable list. It gives him purpose to his retired life style and he loves doing it. We don’t require fancy accommodations; a good location that is clean and safe can suit our needs. Yet, when traveling internationally, there can still be unplanned situations calling for forward-thinking travel savvy.
I am only fluent in my native English language but have made a good effort in learning the basics in French, Italian and German to maintain proper greetings and ask for directions. Two suggestions for those planning your first trip to anywhere.
Learn the words for foods you do not like to eat. This will save you uncomfortable gastronomic experiences when served a meatloaf in a pig’s belly vs the pork chop you expected.
Learn how to ask for directions.
Où sont les toilettes s’il vous plaît?
Per favore, puoi dirmi dove è il gabinetto?
Bitte, wo ist die Toilette?
Yes, simple little phases that can make your life much more comfortable no matter where you are! Keep in mind, once you have mastered these phases, your challenge is far from over. You will need to take careful note of the hand signal directions and quick words returned in answer to your question. Often, I would recommend a repeat of the hand signals just to confirm you got it. If the moment is urgent you do not want to head off in the wrong direction.
In a small (or huge) town, using the WC of a restaurant should not be a problem. It is recommended that you become a patron of the establishment before you embark on your search for the restroom. We think it is worth the price of a café, a glass of wine or beer to avoid using the public toilets or a big tree.
Once you have located your destination, you will need to figure out the facilities which can have varying degrees of complexity, cleanliness or lack thereof. All obstacles that can make or break the moment. For example, there is one style of toilet where you push a button and the seat cover automatically advances to a clean spot. To avoid injury, don’t sit down until it stops.
One of the more interesting facilities has two places for your feet with a hole in the middle. This unit is great for practicing your aim while attempting to keep your clothes out of the target area. It may take some getting used to but you have no worries of a dirty seat cover! My advice, ladies, do not travel in a jumpsuit. You will never get out of it in time to use this type of toilet!
Beyond these standards, there are facilities with no toilet seat, I suggest hovering on this one. Occasionally there may be pay toilets, have your change ready.
On my recent trip to Germany, my friend Christl gave me a handful of change. It came in handy more than I expected to gain access to the WC or to pay a hovering attendant for a scrap of toilet tissue.
You might run into public facilities where the men and women’s restrooms are very close together. I say, get in, do your business and get out.
Last but not to be overlooked, are the hotels with the bathroom down the hall, I avoid these accommodations.
One final complication to moments of urgency are the roadside conveniences. It is more common all the time to find large, clean facilities on major highways. But if you are traveling what we call the scenic goat roads, you may go miles beyond your capacity to hold it. During one experience, my husband was set on showing me a most interesting cemetery. I mean no disrespect to the dead but I did find a quiet, clean little spot beyond the cemetery stonewall to make my peace.
Traveling anywhere can be an adventure. Before the call of nature becomes the call of the wild, remember there is relief on the road ahead. Just be prepared with realistic expectations to meet the challenges of your “bare necessities”.