At home, traveling abroad, or embracing the great outdoors, at least one human constant remains the same: the need to pee. Understanding where and how to pee anywhere is not just a matter of comfort but health, etiquette, and not getting lost in a maze of foreign toilet signs.

It can also be quite an adventure in itself.

I have considerable experience here. My misadventures range from getting lost looking for the loo, accidentally crashing the wrong gender’s party, or panhandling for pennies to pay for a pee. Learn from my mistakes. Please.

There are only 3 basic concepts for women to master to be able to pee anywhere:
πŸ‘‰Sitting on something
πŸ‘‰Squatting over something
πŸ‘‰Standing

A woman sitting on a toilet with a bidet in her hand and lap

How to Pee Anywhere

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the different sorts of situations you you may find yourself in when you feel the urge to go.

Squatter Toilet Help

For when you are squatting to pee indoors. This is a common situation in much of the world and if you do it often enough, you might even find you prefer it.

Positioning Your Feet

Place your feet on either side of the toilet, aligning them with the foot markings if present. Your feet should be flat on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pointing slightly outward.

Pro Tip: Avoid putting foot in toilet.

Lowering Down

Squat down, keeping your balance. It’s important to squat as low as possible, ideally with your thighs parallel to the ground at a minimum.

If you’re wearing shoes with heels, try to keep your balance as best as you can by putting your weight on the balls of your feet, as heels might make squatting more challenging.

Clothing Management

With Pants: Pull them down to your knees. No further, trust me on this. Ensure they’re secure and won’t slip down further, but aren’t stretched too tightly, which could restrict your squat.

With a Dress: Gather the fabric in front of you to prevent it from hanging down towards the toilet.

Aiming

What’s the worst that can happen, right? Lean slightly forward so your urine stream goes directly into the hole or bowl. Avoid leaning too far back to prevent splashing on your clothes.

Flushing

There’s usually a bucket of water nearby if you’re indoors and there isn’t automatic flushing. Use the container provided to pour water into the side of the basin. If it still doesn’t flush, ensure you’re pouring water onto the side of the bowl, not straight into the hole.

Afterwards

Use toilet paper or water for cleaning as is customary. In many places with squat toilets, toilet paper is not flushed but disposed of in a bin. Neither can you count on being provided with toilet paper. See below for more details.

Remember, using a squat toilet can be a new experience for many, but it becomes easier with a bit of practice. Always listen to your body, especially if you have physical limitations.

a less than super clean squat toilet

Make your future life easier now.

I was hiking the Inca Trail in Peru the first time I struggled with floor toilets. With bad knees to begin with, the long days and unending steps didn’t make it any easier.

I managed, though barely, by bringing my poles into the stall with me and using them to help myself up and down. When I got home, I made a plan to ensure that discomfort never happened again.

Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, Kegels, can help you gain more control over your bladder. These will help you with many aspects of your life.

Seriously strengthening your legs makes it easier to pee without sitting on a toilet. The best exercise, by far, is squats.

⭐️ Consistency is the key in seeing results for both of them. ⭐️

The most common causes of knee pain that are preventable are muscle weakness in hips or ankles, overuse, gait abnormality and being overweight. If you can do something about any of these, your future self will thank you a thousand times over.

an up close image of a dirty squat toilet

Tips for using a squatty potty anywhere you go

  • Practice squatting at home to build strength and flexibility in your legs. Do this even when you don’t have a trip planned, especially as you get older.
  • Always carry a small pack of tissues or toilet paper when traveling, as it might not be available in public restrooms. You can buy toilet paper in many parts of the world, but you might be surprised how little you receive for how much it costs.
  • Hand sanitizer can be wonderfully helpful, as not all squat toilets have handwashing facilities nearby.
  • Carry Wilderness wipes wherever you go.

Pro Tip: use the SitOrSquat app: Owned by Charmin, which lets you find public restrooms wherever you go. It also includes ratings on the cleanliness of the toilets.

How to pee anywhere

Using a Standing Urination Device

A standing female urination device is a nifty gadget that allows women to answer nature’s call standing up, much like their male counterparts.

Picture this: you’re out in the wild or facing a public restroom that’s a hygiene nightmare. Enter the female urination device, your new best friend.

βœ… First, you’ll need a bit of privacy – unless you’re out in the great wide open, in which case, enjoy the scenery!

Practice makes perfect, and I do recommend a trial run or two in the shower.

βœ… Now, hold the device with the wider end strategically placed against the urethra. It’s all about the seal – no leaks allowed.

The other end should point downwards, guiding the pee safely away like a tiny, personal waterslide.

βœ… Ready, set, urinate!

It’s a strange sensation, like breaking a societal taboo, but in a liberating and oddly satisfying way.

βœ… Post-pee, give the device a good shake – think of it as a mini (or major) victory dance for your successful endeavor.

βœ… Cleaning is key, whether it’s a simple wipe, a rinse, or a full-on sanitizing ritual, depending on whether you’re a one-time wonder or a repeat user. Store it in a clean, dry place, because hygiene is no joke.

With this device, the world is your oyster… or, well, your toilet.

A woman holding herself because she has to pee

How to Use a Western Toilet

Using a Western toilet, commonly found in many households and public facilities, involves a few simple steps.

1. Ensure privacy by locking the door if you’re in a public restroom.

2. Before sitting down, raise the lid.

3. Once you’re ready, position yourself over the toilet facing away from the wall that it’s connected to.

4. Sit back on the seat with your feet flat on the floor. Do your thing.

5. Post-use, cleaning oneself is crucial.

Most Western toilets are accompanied by toilet paper. Use an adequate amount to wipe clean, making sure to wipe from front to back to maintain hygiene, especially for women.

6. After wiping, dispose of the toilet paper in the toilet bowl. Do not flush anything else, like sanitary products or wipes, as this can clog the plumbing.

7. To flush the toilet, locate the flush handle or button, which is typically on the top or side of the tank behind the toilet. Press or pull it to flush the waste. Many toilets in public restrooms are motion activated and will flush when you stand up for a few seconds.

It’s polite and hygienic to ensure everything is flushed away properly. After flushing, lower the seat and lid if you raised them, as a courtesy for the next user.

8. Finally, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to maintain personal hygiene, a critical step after using any toilet.

This routine of using a Western toilet, though simple, is integral to maintaining good sanitation and hygiene practices in daily life.

a clean western toilet with nearby sink

How to Pee Outside

Is it okay to pee outside? It depends on the situation. If you’re in the city, no. If you’re peeing in the woods somewhere far from civilization, yes. Even if you’re not, you sometimes have no other choice.

Knowing how to properly and hygienically relieve yourself outdoors is essential for anyone who plans to spend extended time outside. It’s essentially the same position as squatting over a floor toilet, with a few more considerations for all involved.

Tips for peeing outside

Spot Selection

πŸƒ Choose a spot at least 200 feet (about 60 meters) away from water sources such as lakes, rivers, streams, or springs.

This prevents contamination of the water, which could affect wildlife and other people.

πŸƒ To maintain privacy and respect for others, find a location out of sight from trails, campsites, and other populated areas.

This also helps in leaving no trace for the next visitors.

One of my hiking friends is so skilled that she can wrap a coat around her lower half and pee in privacy out in the open. She did this on the trek to Everest Base Camp, only somewhat hidden by a large boulder right next to the trail. This surely takes years of practice and several loads of laundry.

πŸƒ When digging a cathole (a small hole to defecate in), choose an area with soft, rich soil that will absorb nutrients and biodegrade waste more effectively.

Avoid hard, rocky, or sandy soil where it’s difficult to dig.

πŸƒ Avoid low-lying areas that might become waterlogged in case of rain.

Water pooling can lead to waste runoff and contamination of the surrounding area.

πŸƒ Choose a spot with sun exposure and good airflow to help decompose waste faster.

πŸƒ Be mindful of your surroundings. Avoid areas with hazards such as poison ivy, poison oak, sharp rocks, or steep slopes.

Also, be aware of wildlife and insects. Especially the biting ones.

πŸƒ Privacy Screening. Use natural elements like bushes, trees, or large rocks to provide privacy.

Do not damage vegetation for the sake of privacy.

πŸƒ Consider wind direction unless you want an unplanned shower.

Doing the Deed

πŸƒ If you use toilet paper or wipes, do not leave them behind.

Pack them out in a sealed bag to dispose of properly later.

πŸƒ Especially in more crowded areas, try to be as quick and discreet as possible to maintain privacy and minimize impact.

πŸƒ Some areas have specific regulations about relieving oneself outdoors (like requiring pack-out of all waste).

It’s essential to be informed about the rules in the place you’re visiting.

πŸƒ Carry a small shovel or trowel, toilet paper, ziplock bag, and hand sanitizer in your pack to be prepared when needed.

Fun Ways to Pee Outside

Using nature’s toilet can and should be approached with a sense of humor and adventure. Here are some fun and creative ways to handle this situation.

Pee with a View: If you’re in a scenic area like a mountain or a forest, find a spot with a great view. There are some great ones in the Enchantments. It’s not every day you get to relieve yourself while enjoying breathtaking scenery!

Alphabet Challenge: For women who use the portable pee device and have some serious skill, a light-hearted challenge can be trying to write letters or simple words in the snow or dirt. I have yet to master the basic skills, but haven’t given up yet.

Pee Races: If you’re with a group and everyone’s comfortable with it, you can have a (respectful and discreet) competition to see who can finish first. The world over, people will come together and do strange things for a laugh, and this is certainly not the strangest thing to happen out there.

a roll of toilet paper hanging on a tree branch

Special Situations and Considerations

Strategies for Long Road Trips or Areas Without Facilities

Map out rest stops and gas stations in advance and use facilities when available. Consider portable urination devices as a back-up plan. Keep essential supplies in the car and don’t be afraid to consider natural options.

Elderly Usage of Squat Toilets

How do the elderly use squat toilets? It depends entirely on the person’s mobility, flexibility, and cognition. The best suggestions are to use the handicapped option, move slowly and steadily, and seek assistance if necessary.

Solutions for those with Mobility Issues or Medical Conditions

Do you research in advance for accessible facilities. Bring a portable commode, just in case. Consider travel catheters and wearable absorbent products and lastly, seek assistance and support if you need it.

Commode culture

Toilets reflect societal norms and attitudes towards privacy, hygiene, and technology.

In some countries, the communal nature of toilet facilities reflects a collective approach to daily life. In more individualistic societies, private, single-person restrooms are the norm.

Bathroom Basics: a Global Guide to Good Manners

Some things remain constant the world over, however. Basic toilet etiquette and hygiene help everyone get along, stay comfortable, and healthier.

β˜… Cleanliness

Treat the toilet like it’s your own – unless you’re a slob, then aim higher. Wipe, flush, and, for humanity’s sake, wash your hands.

β˜… Respect Privacy

In public restrooms, respect the privacy of others. Use locks when available and avoid peering into occupied stalls or engaging in conversation with strangers. Just don’t.

β˜… Flush Properly

Make sure to flush thoroughly. In case of a clogged toilet, use a plunger, or if in a public setting, notify maintenance.

β˜… Proper Disposal of Waste

Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed in American toilets, while only human waste should be in squat toilets. Items like sanitary products, wipes, and diapers should be disposed of in the trash to avoid clogs.

Take care to prevent spills and splashes on the floor, and clean up after yourself if they do occur.

β˜… Noise Control

Be mindful of the noise you make, such as loud conversations on your phone or music, as they can be disruptive to others. Definitely no singing in the bano!

β˜… Resource Conservation

Don’t waste toilet paper, water, or hand towels.

β˜… Queue Respectfully

In public restrooms with long lines, wait your turn patiently and be efficient in your use of time.

β˜… Stall and Urinal Selection

If urinals are not partitioned, leave a one-urinal gap between you and the next person when possible for privacy.

β˜… Toilet Seat Courtesy

If using a unisex or a toilet that will be used by people of different genders, it’s polite to leave the seat down when finished.

Differences in public restrooms across continents.

Public restrooms can vary significantly across continents, reflecting differences in cultural norms, economic development, infrastructure, and public health standards.

North America

Western toilets, commonly found in North America and Europe, are designed primarily for sitting on.Β Not standing or squatting on.Β 

Public restrooms in the United States and Canada often have these Western flush toilets, with stalls providing reasonable privacy. Standard sit-down toilets with toilet paper are the norm.

In many regions, restrooms in public spaces are expected to be clean and well-maintained, with facilities such as soap, running water, seat covers, and hand dryers or paper towels.

FUN FACT! This is often not the case, especially at rest areas and public gas stations. If given the choice, I prefer peeing outside to using some public facilities.

Europe

Western European countries typically have modern facilities similar to North America, although many public toilets may charge a small fee. The fee is often collected by an attendant or through a coin-operated turnstile or door lock.

Toilet tollbooths can be found in train and bus stations, shopping centers, tourist areas, and sometimes on the street in standalone kiosks. Is it socially acceptable to ask a random stranger for change if you don’t have any? No. Should you do it anyway? Do what you need to do, politely.

The United Kingdom is similar to the U.S., with sit-down toilets and toilet paper. Older buildings, however, may have a high-level cistern with a pull chain. A notable feature in France is the presence of bidets in many toilettes, used for cleaning after using the toilet.

Bidets are not mini-showers (though they can feel like one). If you are unsure of your abilities, practice with an inexpensive portable bidet in the privacy of your own home before leaving for vacation.

How to Use a Bidet

  • After using the toilet, sit or straddle the bidet. Traditional bidets are separate fixtures where you sit facing the controls (tap and nozzle), while modern bidet seats or attachments are used in the same position as sitting on a toilet.
  • Turn on the water gently. Most bidets have a knob that controls the water’s pressure and temperature. Start with a lower pressure and adjust as needed. For bidets with a nozzle, you can position the nozzle as per your comfort.
  • Aim the stream of water to the area you wish to clean. This could be the genital area, perineal area, or the anus. The goal is to use the water stream to cleanse the skin.
  • Move slightly or adjust the water flow to cleanse the entire area.
  • Once you feel clean, you can turn off the water. Dry the cleansed area with toilet paper, a towel, or an air dryer if available. Some modern bidets include an air-drying feature.
  • Finally, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
a fancy hotel bidet

You might still find just a hose for washing and a squatty potty in some Eastern European countries, particularly in rural areas.

The level of cleanliness can vary widely, with some countries known for high standards and others where travelers might find public restrooms less well-kept.

Countries with high standards for public bathroom cleanliness include Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Scandinavian countries, Germany and Switzerland.

Countries that could use improvement in cleanliness, based on many memorable experiences, are the United States, the Philippines, India, Nepal, and China.

Even in developed countries, public restrooms in areas with heavy tourist traffic can sometimes be less well-maintained due to the high usage.

Asia

Asian public restrooms range from squat toilets to toilets smarter than your phone, with heated seats, bidet functions, and deodorizers.

Japan

Japanese high-tech toilets, also known as “washlets,” are known for their advanced features that promote comfort and cleanliness. Here’s what sets them apart: bidet functions, seat warming, deodorizing, self-cleaning, dryer, control panel, sound effects, and automatic lid.

You may feel like you need a degree in engineering to use them. Are these really necessary in life? No, but it does add hours of entertainment where you least expect it.

Operation of Japanese γƒˆγ‚€γƒ¬ (pronounced toire) can initially be intimidating, but most toilets have pictograms to help users understand each button’s function. It’s also common to wear specific toilet slippers provided in homes or hotels.

A control panel for a robotic toilet

South Korea

In some older buildings in South Korea, you might find a floor toilet. But it’s common to find toilets with bidet features in most hwajangsil. Used toilet paper is traditionally thrown in a bin rather than flushed to avoid plumbing issues.

Thailand

In Thailand, there are flush floor toilets and the kind that you need to add a bucketful of water to the side of the bowl for it to flush.

China

Squatting toilets are widespread in China, and it’s typical to bring your own toilet paper as public YΓΉshΓ¬ probably don’t provide it.

I learned this the hard way visiting the Great Wall, but I was lucky to have a South Korean friend with me who not only shared her supply but had even mastered the art of squatting on toilets in heels.

However, she also walked the Wall in the same heels, so she is perhaps too much to aspire to.

In some developing parts of Asia, public restrooms might be less hygienic and need toilet paper, soap, or handwashing facilities.

India

In India and Middle Eastern Countries, it’s common to find squat toilets, and using water instead of toilet paper for cleaning is customary. You’ll find a hand-held bidet or a small watering can for this purpose in many places.

Using your left hand for cleaning and the right hand for eating is also customary.

Africa

In many African countries, especially rural areas, public restrooms may be scarce and facilities basic. Squat toilets or pit latrines are common, and running water may not always be available.

Urban areas and tourist spots are more likely to have Western-style toilets and better maintenance.

Oceania

Australia and New Zealand have public restrooms similar to those in North America and Western Europe, with strict sanitation standards. Remote areas might have eco-friendly composting toilets, particularly in national parks and conservation areas.

South America

In urban areas and tourist regions of South America, you can expect modern facilities, but they might only sometimes be well stocked with toilet paper and soap.

Rural areas will often have more basic facilities and might encounter floor toilets. In some regions, it’s common practice to throw toilet paper in a bin rather than flushing it due to plumbing that cannot handle paper waste.

The quality of toilet paper varies hugely between countries as well, so bring your own if its quality is important to you.

While Western-style flush toilets are becoming more widespread, you should be prepared for a range of public restroom experiences, including bringing your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, being ready to pay for use, and understanding how to use different toilet styles.

a very dirty and disgusting public toilet
Often, using the natural environment is preferable

Common mistakes when peeing in other countries

Traveling soon? Knowing local loo law is your new best friend. It shows respect for cultural practices and helps you navigate situations comfortably and without causing offense.

❌ Assuming Western-style toilets are available

In many countries, especially in Asia and parts of Europe, squat toilets are more common. Being unprepared for this can be a challenge. Been there, done that. Only once, though, because once is enough.

❌ Improper use of bidets or other cleaning facilities

In countries where bidets are common, such as in parts of Europe and Asia, it’s important to know how to use them correctly to maintain hygiene. Practice makes perfect!

❌ Flushing toilet paper

In some countries, the plumbing isn’t designed to handle toilet paper and needs to be disposed of in a bin instead. Old habits die hard.

❌ Overlooking the need for toilet paper

Some public restrooms, particularly in Asia, do not provide toilet paper, so it’s wise to carry some. I often carry enough for everyone in my group. Now.

❌ Not carrying change for restroom fees

I have some experience here, too. In many European places, paying a small price for public restrooms is common.

❌ Misinterpreting restroom signs

Sometimes, restroom signs can be in the local language or use different symbols, leading to confusion. Been there and done that, too. Use your phone to interpret for you if you are at all confused.

Or alternatively, you might ask someone who looks like they know what they’re doing.

❌ Not being prepared for unisex restrooms

In some countries, unisex restrooms are more common, which can be a surprise for those not accustomed to them. This is not men and women sharing the same bathroom simultaneously. It’s simply a gender-neutral situation, which I hope will become more common in the future.

❌ Disrespecting local customs

In some countries, there are specific ways of handling menstruation products or certain rituals associated with bathroom use, and not respecting these can be seen as rude.

❌ Being unaware of local water safety

In areas where tap water isn’t safe to drink, it’s also advisable to avoid using it for oral hygiene.

Understanding and respecting local restroom customs and facilities is an important part of traveling and can prevent awkward situations and misunderstandings.

Traditional Toilet Facilities

how to pee anywhere

Traditional toilet facilities are simple toilets that do not have advanced features like flush mechanisms. They’re commonly found in rural areas, older buildings, or regions with limited water supply and sewage systems.

I’ve used them all, as will you if you adventure out into the world much.

🧻 A vault toilet is a simple, non-flushing system designed for use in areas where traditional plumbing is unavailable, such as in remote or wilderness locations, national parks, and campgrounds.

This system consists of a toilet seat positioned over a large, sealed underground container, or “vault,” which collects waste. They do not use water for flushing and require regular maintenance.

🧻 A pit latrine consists of a deep hole in the ground with a slab or floor with a hole at the top to sit or squat over and no flushing mechanism. Waste collects in the pit and decomposes over time. It is periodically emptied, or the latrine is relocated elsewhere.

🧻 Squat toilets, sometimes called squatty potties, are standard in many parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. These toilets require you to squat over them. Some squat toilets are flushable, while others are not and require a bucket of water to flush waste away.

Squat Toilet Benefits

This position is more natural and can lead to healthier bowel movements. Squatting aligns the rectum in a straighter position than sitting, reducing strain and making elimination easier and more complete.

This can help prevent common bowel issues like constipation, hemorrhoids, and even colorectal cancer.

🧻 Composting toilets are designed to compost human waste. They have separate compartments for solids and liquids to facilitate the composting process.

🧻 Outhouses, or privies, are usually small structures separated from the main living area, typically with a pit latrine or a bucket system. They provide privacy and are often used in remote areas without indoor plumbing.

I had one of these for a few years growing up, and I’ve got to say that nighttime trips to the bathroom made their way into my worst nightmares.

An outhouse with a view

Portable and Temporary Toilet Solutions

Portable chemical toilets

Temporary toilet solutions are commonly used at construction sites, outdoor events, campgrounds, and during disaster relief operations.

🧻 Chemical Toilets

Portable chemical toilets are standalone units often seen at outdoor events and construction sites. They contain chemicals to minimize odors and break down waste. The waste is collected in the holding tank and later removed by a sanitation service.

🧻 Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are portable versions of the stationary composting toilets. Waste is collected in a compartment where it decomposes into compost through aerobic digestion.

🧻 Bag Toilets

Bag toilets have a seat and lid combination that fits over a biodegradable bag. After use, the bag can be sealed and disposed of in the trash. They’re lightweight, easy to transport, and often used in emergency kits or backcountry camping.

🧻 Bucket Toilets

Bucket toilets are buckets with a toilet seat attached to the rim. They can be lined with a bag for easier cleanup and are a straightforward portable toilet solution.

🧻 Collapsible Toilets

Collapsible toilets are lightweight and foldable, designed for easy transport and storage. They can be used with waste bags and are popular among campers and hikers.

I have one of these and will happily carry the extra weight for the comfort it provides. But mostly, I use it only during the winter when it’s more challenging to bury your waste in the ground.

🧻 Urination devices for women.

Because sometimes, you just gotta stand up for your right to pee.

They’re often used by women who cannot squat for various reasons. They are small, portable, and can be used with a bottle or bag. These have somehow become… fashionable?

There are a variety to choose from and they’re not the same. Don’t give up until you find the one that works for you!

🧻 Privacy Tents

Pop-up privacy tents with portable toilets combine a portable toilet and a collapsible tent for privacy. The tent can be quickly set up and taken down, providing an instant, private bathroom. These are great for road trips!

🧻 Mystery Toilets

And then there are mystery toilets. They appear to be just a simple hole in the ground, and you have no idea what lies underneath regarding plumbing. Unless, of course, you hear rushing water or pigs grunting below you.

You find these, most unexpectedly, in places like Myanmar, Turkey, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, the Ukraine, and parts of South America. I’m sure the list is longer, but you get the idea.

a portable, collapsable toilet

FAQs

Is squatting on the toilet good for you?

Squatting on the toilet aligns the colon in a way that can facilitate more accessible and more complete elimination. This position may help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids and reduce strain, potentially benefiting overall bowel health. However, it might only be comfortable or feasible for some, particularly those with specific mobility issues.

What is the correct way to squat in the toilet?

To correctly squat on a toilet, stand over the toilet with feet on either side of the bowl, lower into a squat with heels down if possible, and lean forward slightly for balance. Ensure knees are wide for stability and aligned with the shoulders.

Are squat toilets hard to use?

Squat toilets can be challenging for those unaccustomed to the squat position, requiring balance and lower body strength, but with practice, they become more accessible to use.

A toilet out in the open in a small dusty village

Final thoughts

Know before you go!

Being informed and prepared in matters of personal sanitation is about more than individual comfort and hygiene. It’s about public health, respecting cultures, and sometimes, just finding a little humor in the most human experiences.