It is something no one wants to ask and everyone wants to know. What we do about our business on the Camino. The Camino is a unique hiking environment in that you are often not near a public bathroom, nor are you in a situation where you can just pop a squat. Much of the walking on the French Camino involves walking on the sides of streets or freeways, bordering farmland with private properties in view, or on small nature trails with multiple people likely to pass by and watch you if you need a nature break.
The best thing to do is prepare and take advantage of every bathroom stop you can. My grandma always told me, never pass up the opportunity to use the bathroom. This is so true on the trail for several reasons. One is that you should be drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated, and will need to urinate frequently. The second reason is that actual bathrooms may be in short supply. There really are no public bathrooms along the trail. You will find some restrooms in small cafes and restaurants and pubs. They will expect you to buy something to use the bathroom. While this may seem ridiculous, consider the fact that there are sometimes hundreds of walkers passing by all wanting to use the bathroom. The cost of the water, hand towels, and toilet paper is staggering for these small businesses. Don’t be one of those entitled travelers and try to use a bathroom for free. Either purchase a coffee or snack, or pay the 1-2 euro fee and keep relations between pilgrims and the small businesses that support them happy and healthy! Keep in mind, most of these bathrooms still will not have hand towels or toilet paper, so bring your toilet baggie in with you (see below).
Make a bathroom bag.
This should be a quart size Ziploc baggie with the following items:
If you happen to be visited by your monthly friend along the Camino, there are a few tricks to making the experience easier. The first is using a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups, when properly inserted, can hold your flow all day. That way you do not have to deal with a literal bloody mess when squatting alongside a road behind a spindly bush. A couple of my favorites are the Diva Cup and the Luna Cup. Both come with a handy bag. If menstrual cups are not your thing then consider using tampons with an applicator. While I prefer using applicator free tampons in my daily life, when on the trail, considering there may not be a place to wash your hands, having an applicator is helpful! If you do need to clean up your nether regions, Good Love makes some great moisturizing and balancing wipes that are Ph balanced and made for women, packed up individually for travel convenience.
If the thought of squatting over a bush in the outdoors freaks you out, try using a device like the Go Girl Urination Cup. The device allows you to simply zip down your pants and pee stranding up. This gives women much more freedom to urinate quickly before fellow pilgrims turn the corner!
If you must go along the trail following the following guidelines:
Note of caution! - check the foliage of your proposed peeing spot before you squat! Karen learned the hard way and had skin contact with an unfriendly poison ivy right where you don’t want it.
Finally, remember that everyone will have moment when the urge comes at an inopportune time. If it is you, do your thing! Take care of yourself, and don’t risk a bladder infection just because you don’t want to experience peeing in nature. If you see someone else having their own moment on the trail, be kind and either turn around and offer them privacy, or try to take an alternative route around their area.
The Pampered Adventurer