TREKKING AROUND THE WORLD Boy, do I miss my American bathroom

By Alan Knight

It’s the time of year when many people take their vacation. Traveling abroad is a great way to learn about other cultures and have experiences that are incomparable to what you have in the good ole USA. Trekking from one country or continent to another, you experience the most exotic and diverse sights, sounds, smells, food, music, dwellings and yes, bathrooms.  Almost every well-heeled traveler will have one or two classic bathroom stories. 
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Americans, especially those who have not traveled abroad, are often completely unprepared for the adventures they experience overseas. You might be strolling through the streets of Bangkok and encounter a local riding an elephant to the outdoor market, but the real trauma will come when you go to use the bathroom in your hotel room (that is, if you have one in your hotel room). Imagine the look of horror when you open the door and spot a hole in the floor. Yep, that’s the reality and most Americans take for granted the little things that make our lives pleasant. Suddenly, they’re not so little anymore.


Yes, you do. Unless you have an unlimited budget, chances are you’ll be looking to save some money on your adventure. Since you probably don’t plan on spending most of your time in your hotel room, this is generally where you might cut corners.

Be prepared to share. European hoteliers are often a bit perplexed as to why American travelers are so uncomfortable with shared bathrooms because it has been the norm for many years. In many hotels overseas, the toilet and shower will be at the end of the hall. If you get especially lucky, there might be two. Granted, more and more hotels are adding pre-fab bathrooms to individual rooms, but you will dole out a heftier sum for that luxury.

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Do you relish the thought of those hot beads of water gushing down on you first thing in the morning? Do you take your sweet time in the shower as you luxuriate in the hot, soapy water? Well, you can forget about those days as you trek across many parts of the globe. Hot water is a luxury in most places overseas, even in swankier accommodations. 

In many hotels, hot water is available only once a day and there won’t be much of it. Most likely it will be first thing in the morning and the luxury won’t show up again until the next day. It’s not a shabby idea to ask when the precious hot water is available so you can be the first guest to queue up. Just run out quickly, so no one knows who just used up all the hot water. And don’t drop your towel.


So you paid the extra expense for a private bathroom. Good for you. When you walk into the room, you might be in for a bit of a surprise. Hint, it’s not good. Some hotels have joined the private bathroom revolution, they are notoriously tiny. Shower curtains optional. Be careful if you drop the teeny, tiny bath soap, you may hit your noggin on the sink or the toilet. On a positive note, there’s nothing like a side-splitting bathroom story to tell your friends when you get home.


This sure isn’t a Fieldcrest towel. No, it is not. The plush, heavyweight, absorbent, ultra-luxurious towels you cherish at home are nowhere to be found at your average hotel overseas. The towel you will be using is most likely thin, waffle-like and totally lacking the ability to retain moisture. It’s not a bad idea to bring your own because the drying off idea has just not caught on overseas. Maybe you can go into the towel business?

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It’s that hole in the ground. See? Depending on the continent you’ve landed on, commodes as you know them may not exist. And you thought everyone in the world used a toilet. Wrong again. Typically called Turkish toilets or squatters, they exist in many places across the globe. They can be porcelain or metal bowls planted firmly in the ground. It may also be a hole, literally, in the middle of the bathroom. There is no seat on these bad boys, so you have to learn to squat and aim. Think of how much stronger your thighs will be by the end of your adventure.

Oh, and one other thing. Good luck finding toilet paper in these bathrooms. There might be a bucket of water, but that‘s about it. You can wash your hands in the sink. Please scrub them.


You happened upon a bathroom with two toilets this time, not just a hole in the ground.  You must be in Europe. The second toilet is actually a bidet and is considered as important to Europeans as the shower or toilet. The jets thoroughly clean your bottom and is considered to be much more sanitary than toilet paper alone.


You are on your transcontinental flight home and there are two things you long for; your bed and your bathroom. Traveling the globe was an enlightening experience and the exposure to other cultures has enriched your life immeasurably. The food, the sights, sounds, and people will be etched in your mind forever. So will the bathrooms. 

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Now you realize how good you have it. You come home and realize your master bathroom is almost the same size as some of the rooms where you laid your head. You’ve always relished having a luxurious bathroom and made a point of acquiring a solid surface, ultra-luxurious soaking tub to wash away the remnants of your stressful work day. The whole bathing ritual has new meaning now that you have seen the other side. Things don’t get better than this as you drop your luggage on the bedroom floor, turn on the hot water and hop right in. Yes, that was a purchase you will never regret.

This article discusses the various types of bathrooms across the globe and the ultimate differences in contrast to a typical American bathroom. Many Americans have no idea what to expect when they travel abroad or may believe the things considered to be typical in the States, may not even exist in some parts of the world. Now don’t you desire a little more luxury in your master bathroom?

If you learned anything from this article, please make a comment or pass it along.

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