Potty Training While Traveling…
I know ‘potty training’ is the passé term for ‘toilet learning.’ But, since it was such a challenge for us, I prefer to think of my daughter as “difficult to train” as opposed to having a learning disability.
It wasn’t until she was almost three that we really got started in earnest, and that coincided nicely with our trip to Florida and visit to Walt Disney World. I was sorely tempted to just throw back on the pull-up and take a break while we were away, but I was afraid of creating a significant setback. We decided just to go ahead and be prepared for lots of accidents.
It was actually easier!
Turns out potty training while traveling was a lot easier than it was in our day-to-day life. Hopefully these potty training travel tips will help you figure your trip out.
Potty Training Travel Tips
Don’t ask. Tell.
First, since we were on the move so much, the first thing I’d scope out wherever we went was the rest room. And I quickly learned not to ask if she needed to go but tell her that I did and she had to come with me.
Don’t ask. Tell.
If there was more than a hint of reluctance, I’d come up with some sort of ploy that appealed to her nosiness. Like, “I wonder what kind of tiles they have?” or, “Do you think the taps are automatic?”
- The first thing we did when we arrived somewhere, was hit the washroom.
- And the last thing we’d do before we left anywhere, was hit the washroom. Lather, rinse, repeat!
Be prepared for automatic toilets.
The automatic toilets freaked my daughter out. They would always flush when we weren’t expecting them to.
I’d come up with some kind of toilet paper creation to cover the sensor, or else do it with my hand. I’ve read to bring stickers along to cover the sensor. This is a great idea but I just know I’d probably forget them or forget to remove them. Plus, I was always nagging my daughter not to put stickers on her dresser. But, when it comes to potty training, whatever works! (Editor’s note: said daughter still hates automatic toilets. It’s just a thing we live with now.)
It seemed like 99.9% of all airport restrooms have automatic toilets. Just assume they are and be prepared.
Be prepared for gross restrooms.
We were very fortunate in that we never came across any public toilets that resembled the one in Trainspotting. However, I was always armed with my arsenal of diaper wipes and gave every toilet a good scrubbing before my daughter’s precious skin would touch it. (Note: Don’t flush the wipes!!)
There are travel potty seat options and cute toilet seat covers with characters on them. For me that’s just another thing to carry and remember. But again, whatever works.
Occasionally we’d come across a toilet with no seat, and I’d manoeuvre myself into some kind of yoga/gymnastic posture to allow her to hover. It was during those moments she’d astutely mention that if she had a boy’s bits she could just stand. I was hoping her then-unborn baby brother was listening!
She’d say “Yuck!” and I’d think “F*#&!” but say, “It’s not so bad. Here, mommy will clean it up.”
Be sure to have plenty of wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer with you as well. Not all public washrooms have soap. And sometimes the sink areas are particularly nasty. A big thing was me never grimacing or showing that the restroom was gross in any way. Like I said, we didn’t run across any that were Trainspotting-ish, but we would come across our fair share of smelly, or my personal favourite, evidence of someone else’s complete lack of hygiene or consideration for others (I’m not going to spell it out for you).
Things to pack when potty training while traveling…
I’m not lying when I say that potty training while traveling was easier than at home, but at all times I was prepared with:
- 2 changes of clothes for her (remember to include socks. Wipeable shoes like crocs are the easiest to keep clean)
- Plenty of plastic bags to hold any “accidents”
- A couple of pull-ups for if we were going on long car trips or if we would be out and about for her nap
- Plenty of diaper wipes (again – remember not to flush them!)
- Plenty of hand sanitizer
If you’re just thinking about starting potty training before a trip, I would definitely wait. However, once you’ve started, there’s no reason to backtrack or put it on hold.
By the way, the tiny toilets in the baby care centres at Walt Disney World were a big hit. If only all public toilets were as clean as the ones there!
But Wait! What About a Travel Potty for Toddlers?
Frankly, I could not fathom lugging along a travel potty. I would much rather deal with accidents than have to figure out how to empty and clean a travel potty. Maybe I could deal with a travel potty seat. But still, that would have to be cleaned and then carried along with the rest of your stuff.
I also justify my lack of desire to bring a travel potty by acknowledging that, eventually, kids need to learn to hold it when necessary, and also how to go au naturel when necessary. However, if you believe using a travel potty is necessary, the following are the best-rated options on Amazon. They use disposable liners, which is somewhat less gross than dumping out the contents, but you still have to clean it.
A Quick Word on Potty Training and Car Rides
Any drive is made more stressful when you’re potty training while traveling. The same basic rules apply for road trips with toddlers as if potty training wasn’t yet on the agenda. Be prepared for lots of stops and also to clean up any accidents.
You may be tempted to use a car seat liner or cover. Please note that, unless the car seat liner you purchase was also made by the manufacturer of your car seat, these are not safe to use. Nothing, other than light clothing and the car seat cover that came with your seat, should come between your child and their car seat. Britax has a waterproof car seat liner specifically for their seats. None of the aftermarket products are crash tested for safety, and are not safe to use even if they say they are.
*If you make a purchase after clicking a link, Have Baby Will Travel may receive a small commission.*
My daughter started using the potty the day she turned three – and of course we’ve had to deal with the challenges of finding a bathroom when she needs it. When we travel, we always carry a Kalencom Potette Plus ( http://bit.ly/bztnvW ).
It does two things – it is a toilet seat ring (for using on large seats) and it is a portable potty. The bags for it are a tad pricey, but once you’ve managed to save the day by letting your little one pee or poo in the back of the car on a long road trip, it suddenly becomes an invaluable piece of gear. I posted an image of it in one of my Gadling articles: http://bit.ly/aMZtqj
It comes with a couple of disposable bags and a carrying bag. I got mine at BuyBuyBaby where it retails for $17 – but their coupons always take 20% off (Bed Bath and Beyond coupons also work there!).
Of all the kid gear I’ve purchased, this one is the one that has saved me the most!
$17 is a small price to pay for piece of mind, especially where potty training and traveling is concerned!
What a great item, Scott! Thanks for sharing!
hi from blogher! thanks for this post – i know i’ll need it sooner than i think!
Thanks for your comment! If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
My oldest (15yrs) trained at 3,not too bad but had help, my middle (5yrs) trained at 4(very difficult) my oldest helped big time, my youngest (2 yrs) trained in three days lock down at home. Best tool was and is my folding compact toilet seat, fits in a freezer bag in your purse or diaper bag or anywhere. Ours has Dora on it as all I have is girls. Investment $15 at Walmart. We are off to Greece for a month again and so nice not to bring diapers. Wipes mini packs work great as well but seat will travel nicely anywhere for any bathroom.
I really appreciate your tip to try and find a portable toilet that has interchangeable liners to help with cleanup. My wife and I have been trying to help our daughter with toilet training so she can be ready for preschool. I will be sure to get a training toilet that has interchangeable liners!