I Have to Go to the Bathroom

When you're traveling, going to the bathroom can be a challenge. First, there's the issue of having to ask for a "toilet," a word that makes us Americans uncomfortable but which Europeans use exclusively. As a student when I worked at Harrod's in London scooping ice-cream, we had two separate facilities – a restroom which was provided for employees to relax, and toilets for employees to do their business. Asking for a restroom wouldn't help when you needed a toilet.

Then there's the issue of availability. You might not be able to find one when you need it, and of course, there's the price. In Zurich, bathrooms often require a franc. Without the right coin, it's a no-go. In Venice, you can buy a city pass for nine Euros that will get you seven uses (or three for two if you're on a bathroom budget). In Paris, for two Euros, you can go into an art gallery of sorts, select your favorite color of toilet paper from a lovely display staffed by a well dressed attendant, and use the facilities.

Want a better solution? Easy. Walk into the most luxurious hotel you can find. Assume an attitude. Then, head straight for the rest room.

As slovenly dressed, obnoxious, and loud as we often are, Americans enjoy a certain privilege abroad. And if you play it right, access to a fancy toilet – for free – is one of them.

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