For Disgusting Vacation Toilets, a Little Relief

by  Paul Eisenberg | Nov 16, 2010
Family roadtrip
Family roadtrip / Epiximages/iStock

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A few weeks ago while at a martial arts tournament where my daughter was competing, I was chatting with another parent about how for hours on end, our kids really didn’t get a chance to go to the bathroom. The act isn’t forbidden, but if you’ve been to enough sporting-type events you know that it's inconvenient for these kids to break away. The mom I was talking with noted that when she tried to get her son to use the bathroom before leaving home that day his reply was, “Don’t worry mom, I’ll go into school mode.”

School mode?

Yes, he said. The toilets at his school are evidently so disgusting that he wills himself to hold it in all day if he has to go to the bathroom.

Her son’s problem with the toilets at school didn’t sound like it could be solved by layering flimsy-ply toilet paper on the seat. And let’s face it, family vacations often put us in contact – though with any luck, not direct contact – with some profoundly disgusting toilets.

Unfortunately, most kids on long plane or car rides don’t have the fortitude to go into school mode, nor is it advisable. While traveling with my still relatively young kids I’ve managed to get by using those aforementioned flimsy sheets of toilet paper or by simply suspending a child over the seat. And I’ll admit that after hundreds of attempts I can’t manage to make those tissue-papery oval toilet seat covers – generously provided free, I’m well aware – stay on a seat for an entire potty session. However, as you might imagine, there are products out there that make the chore less cumbersome and, perhaps, a bit more sanitary.

One such product is a cheerfully polka-dotted PottyCover (, a disposable affair ($5.99 for six individually-wrapped covers) that not only fits over the toilet seat but also drapes over the front and sides of the commode, protecting swaying legs and grabby hands from the horrors that lurk beyond the actual seat. A plastic coating reportedly repels germs and wetness, but the real innovation for me here is that extra bit of material on the sides that provides a barrier between your child and whatever part of the toilet he’s gripping to support himself.

If your child is still potty training and you’d like to avoid bringing along his home potty seat – which, honestly, has probably seen more sanitary days – the On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat ($7.99; comes in pink and blue varieties and, as the name implies, is conveniently inflatable. Plus, like the PottyCover, the inflatable’s design presumes that you want to minimize your child’s contact with the area immediately surrounding the toilet seat – the inflatable has a backrest that provides support, but which also serves as a barrier of sorts. And to discourage your child from grabbing the sides of the toilet, the inflatable seat has graspable handles on either side. Again, the side protection is a big plus, especially if you're lucky enough to bring your kid into a high-traffic roadside men's room, the kind of bathroom that has sent many dads into school mode for a long, long time.

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