Bathroom Problems While Walking

No Bathroom, No Problem

Urinating Outdoors
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You need to go and there isn't a toilet handy—what can you do? This is a common problem for people who walk for fitness and it may limit where and how long you walk. But you may also have this problem when you are on a walking tour or when you walk as a means of transportation. Knowing where you might find a restroom and your options when one isn't available is a matter of necessity.

Be prepared by always carrying tissue or paper napkins that could work as toilet paper. Even if you find a restroom, it may be out of the necessary supplies. You should also always carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer you can use in case there is no soap and running water. Carry them in a sturdy ziplock plastic bag that could be used to pack out your wastes.

When You're Walking in Town and Need a Restroom

Your options may or may not be best when you are in the midst of civilization. There may be restrooms you can access. But if there isn't, you may not have an easy, private solution.

  • Know before you need to go. Use online search engines for public toilets or a cell phone app to help you spot where there will be a restroom when you might need it.
  • Gas stations and restaurants in the U.S. are required to have restroom facilities for customers. Search for one and, if necessary, purchase an item to become a customer when you need to use it.
  • Public parks may have restrooms, but a common problem is that they are locked in the winter or have been closed due to local budget problems or vandalism. At least this may be a location with public shrubbery to use.
  • Construction portable toilets (port-a-johns) are a blessing. Look for a handy construction site and boldly use them. Even in the suburbs, you can find these in areas where there is ongoing construction of new homes, remodeling, business construction, or road repair. However, they may be padlocked or in a poor condition of hygiene.
  • Stores and businesses will usually let you use the restroom if you overcome embarrassment and ask. Looking honest but desperate can help you get access.
  • Avoid arrest due to local indecent exposure or public urination law enforcement. Whatever you have to do, find the most hidden spot to do it in.
  • Avoid using private shrubbery. Nobody wants somebody sneaking off into their garden to use it as a bathroom, and you may find yourself sought by local law enforcement for peeping or trespass.

Environmentally Sensitive Natural Elimination (No Restrooms)

There is a right way to eliminate your wastes in a natural area without a toilet. Your solid waste products can contaminate groundwater, streams, and lakes and spread disease.

  • Find a private location in the woods that is at least 20 feet off a trail and at least 200 feet (70 to 75 paces) from a stream, pond, or other water to avoid contamination.
  • Urinate into absorbent soil that will soak it up rather than have it run off.
  • Scoop the poop. Just as pet owners are required to do for their dogs, you should do the same for your waste. Bring along a sturdy ziplock bag and pack out your own waste. Nothing comes out of you that wasn't in you, to begin with—you are in no danger from your own germs, but you can cause illness in others.
  • To leave it behind: Dig a hole approx 6 inches deep and big enough around for you to hit with some accuracy. Cover over when done.
  • Natural toilet paper (appropriate leaves) are the most environmentally-sensitive choice. However, it is unfortunately common for people to use poison oak or ivy leaves, with painful consequences. Know how to identify poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac and leave those leaves alone.
  • If there is no soil: If your only choice is bare rock or hardpan desert, the recommendation is to pack it out with you. An alternative is to spread out the feces with a stick or other disposable natural item so the sun's ultraviolet rays will break it down and sterilize it faster.