Just spending a penny

It can’t be helped.  It’s nature.  Sooner or later – whether it’s on a bus, a plane, a bike, a tuk tuk or whatever…..you just know that you are going to have to spend a penny.



Now for us women that is always much more difficult than you guys and when travelling it can become very problematic.

Planes ….stuck in the window seat next to two sleeping strangers.  Mmm- awkward.  You sit there for ages thinking you really can wait until you land.  Then you realise that maybe you can’t but you are literally trapped by these two large men who are both sound asleep.
Another agonising ten minutes goes by and then you HAVE to make a move.  “mmm…’scuze me….. could I get past please?”.  NOW there is a whole kerfuffle.  Much scrabbling to put shoes back on, using the back of the seat in front as an aide to standing up, moving of books, brushing off of crumbs…oh my goodness.  This is embarrassing.  Then they stand up in the aisle while you totter off to the bathroom and they are not sure if you are going to be quick so they should just keep standing there or if you are going to be a long time and they should get back into their seats.  Just as they decide you are going to be a long time you appear down the aisle.  Here we go again, struggling out of their seats.  Who the heck designed this 3 – 4 – 3 configuration anyway?

Buses …..anyone who has been on a coach tour knows that there is usually a toilet on the coach.  They also know that the guide will take time to reassure you that there will be frequent “convenience stops” and the on board toilet is for emergencies only.  So when that emergency happens don’t you know that the whole bus is watching you as you walk down the aisle of the bus and descend those three steps of shame before sitting on the potty while we bounce along the country roads of adventure.  I don’t know why but it seems more shameful to use the coach potty rather than the air plane toilet.  Maybe because there are frequent bathroom breaks on a coach tour that if you do have to use the bus loo it creates such a sense of failure!

Small boats ….ever been on a small boat tour – like whale watching or fishing?  Your skipper will tell you that in the case of an emergency they do have a toilet.  He then proceeds to open up a cupboard right behind the steering wheel.  Are you kidding me?  I would rather wet my pants than have to go through that.

Foreign countries .… Vietnam, Cambodia, India …. all interesting toilet travel experiences.  However strange some of the toilets might look in foreign countries,  nothing beats my experience in the good Old U S of A.    Venice Beach Los Angeles has a very interesting ladies toilet.  I am not sure if it is still there but when I visited there years ago needless to say I needed to “spend a penny”.  Being the lone female in our family I headed off to that reassuring sign

Imagine how bemused I was when I went in through the door only to see three toilets just standing out there in the open space.  No doors, no cubicles – just three toilets.

Sort of like this but bigger.  Well – what to do?  Spend a penny I guess.  Just as I was settled in another lady came into the door and stopped and stared in amazement.  “Yes” I said.  “Weird isn’t it?”.  We both had a good laugh while we had a communal pee and thought how strange the world is to have a lady’s toilet like this in the leading country of the Free World.



By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Lesley,
    I hate these public toilets where one has to pay – an attendant or a turnstile – to relieve oneself…
    Even places like Green Park in London, where I had no change for the turnstile.
    So – I trundled over to The Ritz Hotel and peed for free and in a much nicer environment!! No attendant lurking & staring at you; and I then walked past security in the lobby like I belonged there………


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