Travel Stories

Travellers’ Toilet Nightmares: The Shittiest Stories You’ll Ever Read

toilet nightmares

Everyone’s been there. Even you, the one that won’t admit it. I mean, come on, have you really travelled if you haven’t got at least one shitty horror story or two up your sleeve? And honestly, there is nothing greater for bonding with future friends while travelling – or just living your life – than when someone plucks up the courage to spill their guts about that time they literally spilled their guts, trust me. You’ll reach a level of intimacy quicker than you ever thought possible, and one that I arguably still haven’t reached with my boyfriend.

Over the time I’ve travelled around and lived in Mexico (a great country to be based if you want to hear the best of this type of tale) I’ve been privy to so many travellers’ toilet nightmares that I can’t even count; from those who had to wipe their shitty arse with their own hand as they were on a remote beach, to people who’ve literally missed planes because they were in the bathroom. I’ve listened to stories of blocking the toilets of village elders and pooing behind trees (OK, that last one was me), but each and every one just brought me closer to the person telling me it.

toilet nightmares

In this post, I’ve rounded up the best of the worst (or should that be worst of the worst?) bathroom blunders, pooing predicaments and diarrhoea disasters for your reading pleasure, from both fellow travel bloggers, travellers and myself. In fact, quite a few of the entries are my own pride and joy anecdotes. Anyway, I recommend saving this post until you need some light, and hilarious, bathroom reading to keep you occupied one day. Or, you know, you could just read it now? While you’re here…

Lauren from, well, Northern Lauren

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

The sun was in my eyes, this isn’t a live action shot of me shitting

I don’t know which one of my shitty stories to start off with, because 1) I have so many and 2) find them all equally as hilarious. Well, I do now.

Let’s dive straight in at the deep end with the tale of my first few weeks flat hunting in Guadalajara. I wasn’t all that accustomed to the city yet at all and navigating the buses to attend flat viewings was proving a nightmare, until the fateful day when I felt so confident with my orientation and timekeeping skills that I decided to stop off for a cup of freshly cut watermelon in the morning.

That innocuous watermelon was my untimely downfall, as I discovered on the return bus ride. If you’ve ever travelled on buses in Mexico, you know that they’re crowded, sweaty and the driver literally never turns people away, so they only get worse at every stop. Anyway, I happened to be crammed right in the middle, when I started to sweat and feel like I was about to throw up at any moment.

Panic ensued.

toilet nightmares

I literally elbowed my way to the front (great training for my move to Mexico City and my rush hour metro trips) before demanding that the driver let me off in the middle of the road, as the bus sat unmoving in heavy traffic.

I scanned the vicinity. Bank, no good. Taco shop was a solid maybe – I went there first but was regretfully turned away. Sweaty men’s gym…was I really going to do this? Yes, yes I was.

Luckily, they saw the frantic, wild eyed look on my face and pointed me in the direction of the women’s bathroom, in which I gratefully sought refuge. It was only ~after the deed was done~ that I realised there was no toilet paper in the dispenser and I had to commit the ultimate of all shitting sins – the sock wipe. Thank God I hadn’t worn sandals that day.

After I got myself somewhat sorted, I shuffled sheepishly out of there, never to return, only then noticing that some kind soul had realised what was going on and left a roll of paper outside the door. I never could walk past there for the whole year without thinking about the god-awful mess I left behind.

Rebecca from Away From The Office

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

Rebecca in India

I visited northern India a year and a half ago and joined up with an Intrepid Travel group. I had read enough articles and blog posts to know that it’s common to suffer from the dreaded ‘Delhi belly’, so I was very careful about wiping down my utensils, only eating certain foods, etc.

However, if you’ve ever been to northern India, you’ll also know that finding a public toilet (particularly one that is clean) is difficult, unless you’re at a large tourist site or a fancy restaurant. Despite my best efforts trying to remain healthy, three days into the trip, I felt the familiar rumbling in my stomach that signalled I needed to find a bathroom ASAP.
I wasn’t until I was walking around Jaipur with a couple of women from the Intrepid group that I finally came across a restroom. I walked in and my first thought was “oh shit” (and I mean literal shit). I think almost every surface of the walls and toilets were covered in faecal matter and I almost fell over from the smell.

I’m typically squeamish about public restrooms, even clean ones in the U.S., so you can imagine my dilemma. I knew that I was in a dire situation and there was no way I’d make it to the hotel in time to poo in peace. I gagged a few times and proceeded to the one stall that still had a door attached.

It was a squat toilet, but given the lack of cleanliness I wouldn’t want to use a western toilet anyway. I squat down to do my business and I realise my next mistake: my shoes don’t have any grip on them whatsoever. Like I said, the ground was covered in layers of watery excrement, so as I was mid squat and almost finished, my feet started to slide apart and I fell backwards, my bare butt sinking into the filth.

The shock of what had just happened was beyond anything I’ve experienced. I think I was stunned for a few seconds before I gasped and pulled myself up. I ran out of there immediately and grab my package of sanitising wipes from my backpack. After returning to the hotel, I threw out that pair of pants and took the hottest, most scalding shower of my life. I scrubbed my skin until it was bright red and raw.

I was traumatised by my toilet experience and knew I couldn’t go through that again. I was determined not to use any more public restrooms while in India so I did what any reasonable person would probably do in my situation. I started taking 3 Immodium capsules a day, which quickly put a stop to my ‘Delhi belly’ and prevented me from pooping for the next 3 weeks. Sure, I was constipated but I’d rather be constipated that fall into a vat of smelly poo.
So, don’t ever travel to India without sanitising wipes. Better yet, try not to use the restroom unless you’re at your hotel, a nice restaurant or another place that tourists frequent. I had a wonderful time in India but I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of their restrooms.

Kelly from Girl With The Passport

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

Kelly in China before the Kung Pao disaster

The setting: Lugu Lake, China, 2009. The Kung Pao chicken hit me like a freight train. I knew it looked a little dicey but I thought, “Ehh, what’s the worst that could happen?” Well this, this is the worst that could have happened. I now had awfulness exploding out of both ends of my body.

This poisonous poultry had turned me into a bona fide weapon of mass destruction. Therefore, I avoided human contact at all costs and just barricaded myself in the one and only communal bathroom. People would knock politely, and I would just groan in a way that was the universal signal for, “I can’t leave the bathroom. You need to make alternate arrangements for the next three days.”

On the morning of the fourth day of what I fondly refer to as ‘the Kung Pao Chicken Fiasco of 2009’, I emerged from my room, wobbly on my feet and about 10 pounds lighter. I mean sure, who doesn’t like to lose weight, but not on a crash diet like this! To this day, I still avoid Kung Pao chicken since it evokes such not great memories.

Alice from Wherever I Want

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

The first time I went abroad without my family was with a health volunteer organization to Nicaragua. Some people from my college and I landed in Managua, Nicaragua. The first few days went off without a hitch, and my fellow students and I treated hundreds of people in our mobile clinic. The fourth day, we took some time to sightsee and ate bean and cheese sandwiches for lunch.

By that night, I was heading for the restroom once an hour! I had no idea what the problem was and attributed it to being in a different environment for the first time. I had come unprepared and didn’t know what to do except make sure a bathroom was always in sight, but I knew I wanted to keep the situation on the down low as much as possible and didn’t tell anyone else.

However, I was relieved (sort of?) to hear that everyone else had the same problem at breakfast the next morning! We were all having diarrhoea. Though that’s a weird thing to connect over, we were all drinking water with rehydration salts and laughing about how we all thought it was a personal problem before long!

It turned out to be a great bonding experience and we were lucky that no one got sick after that. I will never eat another bean and cheese sandwich, though. It turns out they’d been sitting in the sun the morning that we went to sightsee, and were the most likely culprit for our problem!

Karin from Girl Astray

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

Karin’s feet at the scene of the crime

Eating a yogurt before you start hitchhiking should be a big no-no, as I found out the hard way one sunny day in Mexico.

Back then, our new friend loaded us and our backpacks on the back of his truck, started the engine and off we went. We were on the highway already when I felt an unnerving, painful movement in my belly. I got pale and red and pale again; I started to shake and I realized the (literally) shitty truth: I wasn’t going to be able to hold it until the final destination.

With the truck riding a steady 100km per hour, there was no way of arranging an improvised break. I stuttered when I asked my husband to find a plastic bag really fast and as soon as I took off my pants and adjusted the bag, frrrrt! My bowels exploded, finishing the poo parade with an impressive flatulence.

I felt relieved, happy to have wet wipes at hand. Then I realised it; I can’t just jump out and wave our driver goodbye with a bag full of watery shit in my hand!

Hoping nobody would realise, I stood up and threw the bag as far towards the greenery as I could (= in the middle of the highway). The two gentlemen in a car behind us were looking at me in a very angry way – I guess they don’t like to see people polluting the countryside in such a blatant way. Neither would I, believe me – and being somebody who picks up plastic waste in the forest when hiking, I still feel bad about that bag. However, I haven’t figured out a better solution for an urgent disposal til today.

Becky from Becky The Traveller

(Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest)

toilet nightmares

My Mount Kilimanjaro trip didn’t quite start as I planned. Sun cream on and plenty of water. Everything sorted and ready for the hike of my life. A six-day camping expedition to reach Africa’s highest mountain.

I am hiking with a team of six. They are busy unloading the car and packing the food and camping supplies for our trek. It’s time for me to relax, enjoy the scenery and take a few photos.

But then, I need to do a fart – no-one is around so that’s fine, isn’t it? No, it actually isn’t, because I’m sure you can guess what happened. I’m next to a shelter which thankfully has a toilet so I investigate the damage. There’s no toilet paper, soap or hot water. I make the best of a bad situation.

It’s a steady hike through the forest and a steep climb. I have to stop another two more times that day and use nature’s toilet. It’s not the best but I don’t have much choice.

Arriving at my camp, I am given a bowl of hot water to wash my hands. Perfect, I can wash my underwear. But no, I turn away and the bowl has disappeared. I end up asking for some more to wash my feet. I’m sure they think I am a right pain but hey it’s better than carrying dirty underwear with me on my magical hike!

And the lesson I learnt from this? Never fart in Africa!

Finally, to round off, me again – Lauren

I could talk about that time I had explosive diarrhoea behind a tree at a Tabascan nature reserve, the time I overflowed my flat toilet so catastrophically that it took an hour to mop up all the water, or the time I blocked a Cuban campsite’s toilet, but instead I want to talk about my most embarrassing poo story that to date. I’m SO ASHAMED about it that I’ll be skimming over certain details of this story.

It was January, I was travelling with my friend through an unnamed Mexican state and we ended up staying at her friend’s house for a couple of days (note: not my friend). This friend happened to have their own en suite bathroom which I rudely blocked not long after arriving, while they were at work. I confided in my friend, sheepishly, that the fucking thing would. not. flush. We tried everything – the old hacking it up and re-flushing trick, and we even bought a plunger which had little to no effect.

toilet nightmares

Shit happens in Cuba

Just so you know, this entire time we’re panicking about the friend coming home and realising the state we’ve (I’ve) left his bathroom in, because the bowl is still, at this time, full of shitty toilet water. And that’s how it stayed. The whole time we were there, and, I imagine, even after I’d left. There was never any mention of it again and I honestly think he might have had to get a plumber. So, there you have it, my ultimate shitting horror story.


  1. Alice Chen 28 March, 2017 at 08:33 Reply

    I love all these stories! They are hilarious. And honestly, it\’s inevitable that you will get sick if you travel enough. I\’m really happy I could contribute!!

  2. Probe around the Globe 28 March, 2017 at 15:35 Reply

    really really familair stories. As I have crohn\’s disease, each situation happens to me on a weekly basis, at home, safe and western. But you girls all tell it in such a funny way, I cannot but applaud your resourcefulness! Excellent topic

    • Lauren 28 March, 2017 at 15:38 Reply

      Thank you! My cousin has crohns and it can be so awful. I also have tons of friends wth IBS so I count myself lucky that my experiences with this are one offs!

  3. Maartje 31 March, 2017 at 15:20 Reply

    Haha, i Love the humor and openminded views here! We all have had these experiences so I why not make fun of it. Eventhough its seriously shitty if you end up in these situations, you get some good stories to tell others about what it\’s really like to travel.

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