As someone who is often in swift need of a restroom, I’ve become an expert in finding one quickly and making myself as comfortable as possible. Nowhere was this skill more necessary than on my recent trip to Spain. All those churros, patatas bravas, plates of jamon, and glasses of fresh orange juice can confuse the heck out of even the healthiest digestive systems. And when you’re there, you want to be prepared. Not all bathrooms are created equal.
1. BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER
While the Spanish do use toilet paper, it is often not well-stocked in restaurants, bars, and public restrooms. Keeping a packet of tissues in your purse will save you more than once on even a short trip.
2. CHECK YOUR SHYNESS AT THE BORDER
I cannot tell you the number of times the bathroom was in a really obvious and uncomfortable location with a thin door. If you want to shit on your trip, you’re just going to have to get over it. Most likely, the only person who notices is you anyway. The barista is surely used to it and ignores it.
3. PRACTICE ASKING FOR THE BATHROOM
After you learn hello, please, and thank you, practice that essential phrase: Where is the bathroom? Nothing will delay your relief longer than trying to mime a simple question. Here’s how to ask in Spain’s four major languages:
Spanish (Castilian): Donde esta el baño?
Catalan: On és el bany?
Basque: Komuna non dagoen?
Galician: Onde está o baño?
4. LOCATE THE BATHROOM WHEN YOU ARRIVE ANYWHERE NEW
Even if you don’t need to use the bathroom the minute you arrive at the Real Alcazar de Sevilla – locate it. At sights like these, the grounds are huge and having some clue as to where the bathroom is will save you valuable time.
5. MAKE USE OF CORNER CAFES/BARS
This is an especially great trick if you’re not traveling solo because you will need to purchase something in order to use the bathroom. If you’re a pair, enter the cafe together, greet the person behind the bar, and scamper off to the bathroom while your buddy orders two bottles of water or two coffees or two somethings. Then, when you’re done, you’ll have a refreshing drink and a moment to relax and your buddy can use the bathroom too.
6. CARRY A BOTTLE OF HAND SANITIZER
Nearly every bathroom we encountered was missing either soap or a way to dry your hands (sometimes both), so it’s best to come with your own hand washing plan. Nobody wants to munch on tapas after going to the bathroom without doing some kind of hand cleaning. Yuck.
7. BE OPEN TO NEW FLUSHING MECHANISMS
Silver buttons atop the commode, pull handles hanging from the ceiling, a switch on the wall – you name it, you might see it in Spain. If you can’t figure out how to flush the toilet, try anything that looks like a button or handle, even if you think you’re wrong, you’re probably on to something. (Just don’t use that advice if you decide to use the bidet.)
8. STAY IN THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING
The best bathroom you’ll encounter will most likely be the one at your hotel or apartment. If you’re staying near where you’re sightseeing, sometimes it’s most convenient (and always most comfortable) to duck into your own bathroom for a moment.
Have you been to Spain? Any bathroom tips or stories? Please share them in the comments!