Bathroom and toilet packing tips for women travelers

On the road I’m sure most of us have encountered dirty toilets, a lack of toilets, and other situations that make answering the call of nature a more difficult task. To add to the challenges our environment presents, us gals don’t have it as easy as our male counterparts who can stand and go discretely. What can you pack to help you go when you gotta go?

Toilet paper

Whether it’s a full size roll or a mini roll, packing toilet paper when I travel has increasingly become a habit of mine over the last few years.

The mini:

I’m not sure how available these are in other countries, but in the USA, you can pick up a mini roll in the $1 bins for travel-sized products. The inner cardboard roll has been removed, and what remains are a few dozen sheets that have been tightly rolled into a roll the width of a couple of fingers. In the US, Charmin’s To Go mini rolls include 55 1-ply sheets. I’ll often pack a “just-in-case” mini roll in a day bag or my camera bag. It’s come in handy when I’ve finally found a public toilet after a long search only to find there’s no paper! The down side? You only get a few uses before it’s gone!

The full roll:

These are too big for me to consider packing them in a suitcase, but full-size rolls have come to my rescue on more than one occasion. When I celebrated New Years in Sydney, I camped out all day on the Harbour. By 11am the toilet paper in the portable toilets had run out, but I had packed my own roll for the day and was grateful for it! A couple of months later, I was road tripping around the country and often found there was no toilet paper at camps sites or in more rural areas. Traveling with a stash of toilet paper in the van saved the day many times. I highly recommend bringing a roll if you’re camping or attending a huge festival!

Toilet seat covers

Sometimes you simply don’t want to squat and hover, but you wouldn’t dream of having a seat either. A couple of my female friends are huge fans of toilet seat covers. A variety of retailers online provide small packs of disposable toilet seat covers that are perfect for travel.


Female urine funnels

Female urination devices or funnels allow the female traveler to go standing up! Who hasn’t run into a situation where you wished you could go as discretely as the guys? Though I’ve personally never used one, I can think of a handful of situations where one would have come in handy!

Until my big Oz road trip last year, I had never gone to the bathroom outside. Never. But you can’t camp for 2.5 months without having to go when you’re MILES away from the closest toilet. Or your camp site doesn’t have a toilet. Or the toilet block is infested with leaping insects (true story). I became comfortable very quickly with going outside, whether it was in the middle of the night outside of the van and tent or alongside one of the loneliest roads in the country in broad daylight. If I could have stood up to go outside during the day, I would have! If I didn’t have to go outside on a freezing cold night, I wouldn’t have!

We’ve highlighted P-Mates on Her Packing List before, and you can also find similar products at Go Girl and Urinelle.

Do you pack anything to help make going to the bathroom easier, cleaner, or better? Have you tried a urination funnel before? Tell us your recommendations.


  1. says

    While I’ve got to admit I’m not in a rush to try one of those funnels, I am with you on carrying my own toilet paper. Or in my case, always having a pack of tissues in my handbag.

    This is a rule that not only sees me in good stead when I’m travelling to strange places, but also in my own city. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to use the bathrooms at a concert etc and seen a long line with one empty cubicle.

    After asking what’s wrong and being told it has no toilet paper, I smile, step past the queue, straight into the cubicle and thank my tissue carrying habits. It’s the little things in life!

  2. says

    In the UK, I’ve always found mini-rolls rather expensive for what they are. So before my treks to Mt Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp, I unraveled a normal toilet roll into about 3-4 smaller ones, without the cardboard. I put one roll in a plastic zip lock back with a mini bottle of hand sanitizer into my day bag, and the other three rolls in a separate plastic bag in my main bag. This stopped them from getting wet when it rained. When the day roll ran out, I replaced it with one of the spares. It also meant that I didn’t have to dig around in my bag for my toilet supplies :)

    I ended up finding this system so useful that I always have a mini zip lock bag of toilet roll and hand sanitizer, which is especially useful in London.

    • says

      Lottie, great idea! Creating your own mini-rolls is so much cheaper than buying the prepared ones. And in big cities where toilet paper isn’t always guaranteed, it really should be a staple in a woman’s purse!

  3. Heike says

    Travelling really teaches you to value toilet paper, huh? 😉 I can also understand some Girls carrying around a package of toilet seat covers, it is important to protect yourself from infection! I would also recommend packing disinfecting wipes. You can not only use them when going to the bathroom, they also come in handy, when you want to clean your hands or wipe over door knobs and light switches when arriving at your room in the hostel.

  4. says

    On longish trips I pack a full roll on my main pack inside a ziploc and just take a smaller portion of it everyday, replenishing as needed.

    Alright, don’t laugh too hard when you read this, ok? :-) Regarding urination devices, I went the DIY route. $3 at the auto parts store buys you a FloTool Tight Spot Funnel. It’s grey, flexible, ugly and no one would guess what it’s for – perfect! I trimmed the top with scissors to make it less bulky and am happy to report that I’m able to use it without taking my pants down much. Skirts are even easier. It’s made of a silicon-type material that doesn’t stain or smell, so cleaning-wise you could use anti-bacterial wipes, or just rinse it with hot or soapy water then dry with tp or tissues. My boyfriend thought it was hysterical, and agrees that if anyone asked while traveling (hasn’t happened yet), it’s believable to say it’s for a motobike. I’m taking mine for an upcoming trip to SE Asia and will use it for camping too when the weather warms in North Carolina.

  5. Dianne says

    I always have anti-bacterial handwipes in my purse or pocket. I’ve frequently used them in lieu of toilet paper, especially when using Asian squat toilets. It’s good to carry a small ziplock bag in case there’s no trash can, fold the wipes after use and put in the ziplock, then deposit in the next appropriate receptacle.

  6. Harmony says

    I’m with Lottie in that I too make my own mini rolls of toilet paper. I’ve also taken full rolls by taking out the cardboard tubing and squishing it.

  7. Cheryl Ann says

    Look, I travel up into the mountains every weekend to check on my horses. I board them up there, out of the desert heat. And, yes, a couple of times I’ve had to venture into the woods! I now keep a roll of TP, some wipes, and even a trowel in my car! You never know when “the urge” will hit! :-) We also just returned from a trip through Colorado and New Mexico. It’s amazing…the LACK of public restrooms in their forests! And, at age 63, I just can’t hold it like I used to be able to do! :-(

  8. Linda says

    Do it yourself toilet seat covers:

    Lay a Walmart plastic bag (or other similar size bag) on a flat surface. Cut bag in half but cutting through side seams and bottom seam until you have about two equal pieces. Fold in half lengthwise. From the folded side, cut a half circle, leaving about a four inch margin on the top and bottom. Unfold and you have your toilet seat cover. Roll lengthwise, then fold in half. Tie into a loose knot. Free to make and disposable (but don’t flush down the toilet).

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