Etiquette in the Loo: How to Go Wherever You Are


You know when you really really have to go?  But you are not sure what’s acceptable in the country in which you find yourself this week?  Well, this post won’t help you there – it’s not really a list of instructions on using lavatorial facilities around the world.  Just a couple of signs I’ve come across lately struck me as worthy of a mention.  Let’s set the tone with some toilet paper in Pitlochry, Scotland.


These signs have appeared in the cubicles at work.  Not the office cubicles but those in the loo (lav/toilet/rest room/there are so many euphemisms, but that’s a topic for another day).  This is a serious attempt to explain what is acceptable in the United Kingdom.


Well, I’m glad they pointed those out to me or I might have tried to flush with my shoe!  But this sign did get me thinking about the different ways to use the facilities in different parts of the world.


On holidays in Tolo in Greece, there was a sign in the bathroom saying NOT to flush the toilet paper, but to put it in the bin.  Greek plumbing has the reputation as the worst in Europe which is ironic considering they had flush toilets thousands of years ago.  It’s also a bit embarrassing to have the attendant in the public toilets handing you some squares of paper when you enter.  What if I didn’t get enough?  I imagine being stuck in the cubicle, wiggling my foot out under the door and trying to remember the Greek for, “Can I have some more paper please?”

New Zealand

While cruising around Auckland harbour, I came across this sign which I love.  Is this a half man-half seahorse?  Is he being seasick or getting a drink?  I can’t tell, but the idea of seahorses using the facilities on ferry just tickles me.  Sadly I didn’t see any seahorses in Auckland Harbour but I’m glad they are catered for by Fullers cruises.


Republic of Ireland (Eire)

I didn’t take any goldfish to the loo with me in Dublin.  And my hopes and dreams are too precious to flush away.


What do they do with all those ex’s sweaters and old phones in the bin?


Facilities like these don’t come with instructions, apart from a hand-chalked sign to differentiate the ladies from the gents.  You are expected to know to check for spiders before you sit down, and to close the lid when you get up to keep the flies out.  And be sure to take a torch with you after dark.


This type of outhouse was fairly common in my childhood holidays around Aussie, so when I found this was the toilet block where I was staying last year, I knew how to deal with it.

My readers have reminded me that you also need to be on the lookout for snakes and frogs, and not just in the outdoor facilities.



This one is from Kuala Lumpur airport.  It all looked a bit scary to me, so I didn’t give it a go.

toilet sign


This paragraph contains all the discussion I’m having with you about squat toilets.


Do you always know what to do when you are attending to business in a foreign toilet?  Do you love the helpful signs?  Which country has the best toilets?  And the worst?

2 thoughts on “Etiquette in the Loo: How to Go Wherever You Are

  1. kassommers

    Hello Laura. It’s a bit weird, because squatting is a more natural position before toilet seats were invented. It’s not so comfortable for a lot of people though and generally the squat toilets I’ve seen in Europe and Asia haven’t been the most hygienic.

  2. Laura // Bottled Air

    We’ve come across a couple of ‘don’t squat on the toilet’ signs in Asia. My favorite signs are probably in China though, as they often contain mistranslations and usually don’t make any sense!


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