A Quick Survival Guide to Overseas Restrooms – tips and tricks for Americans travelling overseas to Europe and Asia

A Quick Survival Guide to Overseas Restrooms

When you pack your bags and plan your trip to a different continent there is one tiny detail that you cannot afford to overlook – ‘the local bathroom etiquettes’. Among the many elements of culture that Americans traveling to Asia and Europe might notice the difference in washroom layout and practices might be one of the most prominent. Before we get into the difference in the design and the habits you might have to break, know how to ask for a washroom when you are on these continents.

Restroom terminology to master

  • In Europe you should search for a WC (water closet)
  • While at Japan you should head on to a ‘benjo’or ask“Toirewadokodesu?”
  • ‘Bidets’ are there to clean yourself in Argentina, Portugal, Italy and other southern European nations.

Carry your own TP

Toilet papers are optional in several countries in Asia and Europe. Therefore, carrying your own travel tissue would be the safest thing to do. And if you do use the toilet paper, there is a separate trash bin placed for disposal and you cannot flush them down the toilet in most countries. If there is no toilet paper, what is the other option you are given? Use the bidet!

Bidets and their nuances

Bidets are wonderful ways to save paper and are also considered to be better in terms of the sanitation aspect. There could be standalone bidets right next to the toilet or an add-on variant in the seat or even a bidet shower, like the ones you might find in Finland. Bidet showers are like small hand showers where you might find a spray nozzle attached to a hose installed near the toilet seat.

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Flushing it right

In Europe there are some restrooms that still use the pull type flush system which might be new to most Americans. While in the rest of Asia and Europe there are plenty of restrooms with the dual flush system for tailoring the water pressure.

Squat toilets

In South East Asia, squat type toilets are very common. These are the flat toilet seats installed on the floor. Some restrooms do not feature a flush system in the squat seat design. Instead, you might find a bucket of water nearby.

Japan – a special mention

While you are at Japan, be ready to be blown away and overwhelmed at the same time when you step into the high-tech restrooms with endless controls on the toilet seat handle. The Japanese take cleanliness in the washroom to an all new level. Paperless restrooms are the most common in Japan as you have the bidet integrated in the toilet seat along with a drying system. This is also one of the very first countries to create hands-free toilet designs.

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Pay to use

Public restrooms might often charge a small fee for using them. Pay to use restrooms are very common in most of the tourist destinations in Europe and Asia. There are also public restrooms that you can find on the streets and these are mostly coin operated.

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