O'Sullivan family travels and beyond

Toilet humour

We British are renowned for toilet humour but travelling round the world with three young children really does mean this will be a big factor and ‘regular’ conversation point for our family more than most. Thankfully Seamus uses the toilet and is dry day and night. Prior to travelling, we worked on him learning that he needs to give us notice rather than wait until he’s bursting.

Grrrl Traveler’s YouTube guides were brilliant to help explain to the girls what they might see on our travels – especially as we have one princess who might find it a bit more of a big deal than the other (we just about survived a British music festival). We have packed a Shewee in case we really do get caught short.  We can take so much for granted in our every day life, such as hot running water, good sanitation but we will be visiting different places and cultures and need to be prepared to ‘go with the flow’. (Is that enough bathroom puns yet?)

So what have we faced so far …

Well,  the Trans-Mongolian train we took from Russia to Beijing had a toilet in each carriage. We weren’t in First Class compartments so the passengers there may have a different version of events to us. Our facility was stainless steel with a pedal flush that opened directly on to the snowy tracks. We travelled in winter through Siberia when the temperature outside was -7C or even colder , so you might be a bit chilly if your little brother steps on the flush while you are using it… I won’t name which child knows that! There was a small hand basin but only cold water (there is boiling water available at the other end of the carriage.)  Bring your own loo roll, soap and hand sanitizer. Toilets were locked about 15-20minutes before a station and not open again until about 15minutes leaving. Make sure you check the schedule as this can sometimes mean a very long time without access to the bathroom – especially at border checks which can take hours!


Thanks to Grrrl Traveler, we had braced ourselves for Squat toilets, which were often the only option in shops, restaurants and even tourist attractions in China although there were sometimes western style loos available. In all these places, they often smelled of smoke as people must have sneaked in there for a quick cigarette. Sometimes loo roll was available (don’t put it in a squat toilet), sometimes not. Sometimes dispenser had soap, sometimes not. Meaning bring some hand sanitizer and tissue just to be sure. Some shopping malls had lovely little children’s toilets, just the right size for Seamus.

On the Chinese sleeper trains there was a squat toilet and a western style toilet in each carriage. Again, sometimes there was soap, sometimes not and mostly there was no paper. We’re not sure how some people chose to use the loo, but all we’ll say is, thank goodness for the disposable slippers we were given for the journey! A lady with a little trolley was selling toilet paper on the train from Xi’an – Shanghai.

Here’s Orla at the loo of a lovely restaurant in Beijing to give you and idea of what the facilities can look like in bars and cafes etc.


In Japan, we’ve found both squat and western toilets. Heated toilet seats seem to be very popular – even in public loos.  Some of the other features, like the music button have been a novelty for the kids! All the other buttons are in Japanese and we haven’t been brave enough to press them – I am not sure what we think might happen!

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Answers on a postcard as to how we use this one which was in the Ladies’ in Osaka station…