Toilet Trouble at Festivals

The world of pain that is the festival loo. Whenever I mention festivals to non festival goers I get the same response 'oh but the toilets!'

It seems that the thought of exposing your buttocks to the elements in a tiny plastic portable toilet is many people's biggest festival worry!

Will the toilet be clean? Will it be safe? Will it be leaning, or have gaps around the door? Will the door lock? Will there be a queue? Will there be toilet paper? How will I wash my hands? Will it smell? Will it be .. *retch* ... 'full'?

So calm down, take a deep breath...actually no, maybe not that...

  • Festivals toilets are usually cleaned at least daily, sometimes more often, they are emptied and washed down very thoroughly. The toilet paper is renewed too. Of course it does sometimes run out, but fear not, you just need a bit of tissue in your pocket.
  • The toilets are supplied by companies that specialise, so they will be set on suitable ground, they shouldn't lean or wobble.
  • The doors usually have very simple, large plastic locks, they lock easily and you can see clearly from outside if the door is locked, with a red/green engaged and vacant sign.
  • Remember to flush before and after use to ensure everything is removed from the pan.
  • There may be queues at busy times, such as early morning and just before bedtime or after the last main stage act, but as the toilets tend to be in banks of a dozen or more the queues usually move quickly, and, at least in Britain, people don't tend to queue jump.
  • Most festival toilets don't have a sink or water to wash in, they have supply of hand gel, the sort used in hospitals. This is great for the occasional wee and poop but ideally you would want to wash your hands properly before eating, so look out for water points around the site, or carry wet wipes and use those, followed by the gel. I tend to pack my own hand gel too.
  • The toilets do not smell of potpourri. They do smell of chemicals and ...well on a warm day of human poop. It's a fact that everyone's poop smells. You won't die. If you feel really squeamish, use a scented wet wipe and hold it over your nose. Mostly your trip will be quick, compost loos smell less than the chemical ones and there is plenty of ventilation.
  • If there is a problem with them being emptied or it's been really busy then they can be full. Just try for another one on!

For those really worried, there are some more 'personal' toilet options. Remember that there are no chemical toilet emptying points at festivals so you need to be able to dispose of your own ...waste ... properly. The options start with Travel Johns, a bag and urinal affair, for men and women where you can have a quick pee and (as in modern nappies) the pee is absorbed into a gel for disposal.

You can use a nappy in a potty if you have smaller children, using the same principle, they can pee (or even poop) onto the nappy which can be wrapped and bagged and binned.

Or opt for a portable personal toilet of the bucket or seat variety. A bucket can be emptied into a portable toilet although this is fraught with risk, don't spill it! Don't get any on the seat and where do you plan to wash it? not at the water points used for washing plates or tooth brushing, and you must not pollute the festival site. The better option is to use the seat style with bag and gel, or use the bag and gel in the bucket, that way you can simply double bag and bin it with the other waste.

So far we've been lucky, though we take the Travel Johns in case of emergency, we have never yet needed to use them. Good luck in your toilet travels!

Photo Copyright: terex / 123RF Stock Photo

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