Know Before You Go: International Bathroom Etiquette

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When you've got to go, you've got to go.

Trust us: You don't want to wait until that exact moment while traveling abroad to try and figure out what the local etiquette and standards are for bathrooms. We've broken it down, so when the time comes, you'll be ready.

You may be flying by the seat of your pants on an international trip of a lifetime, but doing your research on loos around the world is imperative. It's important to be aware that bathrooms may be called by another name in another country. For example, you may encounter water closets in many European countries, abbreviated as "WC," in addition to "dunny" in Australia and "ben-jo" in Japan. Luckily, the male/female images are a pretty universal indicator and widely used around the world, so even if you aren't sure, you can still get a pretty good idea of what's up. Some public restrooms in Europe are gender neutral, so even better!

As absurd as it may seem, you should keep in mind that some bathrooms require you to pay a small fee before using them—so you never want to be caught short on cash or coin at any point. This is common in large cities in Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, et cetera. If there's a bathroom attendant, be sure to tip them, just as you would in the United States.

Unless you've been rustic camping or happen to be part of a group of 12-year-olds running around late on Halloween night, chances are you're not accustomed to carrying around your own toilet paper. However, there are countries that require it and you don't want to end up out of luck. Examples include parts of Thailand, Korea and China.

To flush or not to flush—that is the question you should keep front of mind. Because not all plumbing systems are built to handle toilet paper, you may need to dispose of their toilet paper in a small trashcan nearby; this often serves as a clue to not flush, to begin with. You may come across this in countries such as Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, Ukraine and Greece. On the other hand, not flushing in some countries, such as Singapore, could leave you facing fines.

Countries such as France, Italy, Japan and parts of the Middle East prefer to avoid paper products altogether, looking to bidets for personal hygiene.

Hope you've been doing your quad workouts! You're likely to run into bathrooms in Asia that require squatting over an in-ground toilet, rather than sitting on the traditional porcelain throne you're used to.

Don't be cheeky: Do your research.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.

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