I have heard that you should carry change around to use public restrooms in Europe...it this is true what coins do you need?? quarters-euro change??
I have heard that you should carry change around to use public restrooms in Europe...it this is true what coins do you need?? quarters-euro change??
It's true! I carry a variety of coins because what you pay is different from place to place. On the plus side, WC's with an attendant are generally the cleanest you will find.
It is true. You'll often encounter a stern-looking matron seated at a table at the restroom entrance. She's the one you pay. There'll often be a sign telling you how much is expected. Don't worry about having change. There is no such thing as a one-euro note (our dollar bill) in Europe, so you'll find that your pockets rapidly fill with change when you're over there.
Italy comes to mind as the most likely place where you will have to pay to pee. I'm just a tourist like most people here, but my take is that a 50 euro cent coin is the appropriate amount - carry a supply of those. Most places have a tray where you can drop change that adds up to 50 euro cents and be fine, but some places have coin operated gates where you need the correct coin. Maybe it's okay to make change from the trays, I've never tried - just made sure I had some change before I used a toilet.
The coins you need are called "pee coins" as in Netherlands pee coins, German pee coins, Austrian pee coins. They are to be carried at all times under duress of exploding bladders. Messy. Make sure you have a good supply of these pee coins wherever you go.
So, if one needs to do a bit more than "pee" as you say, shall they leave a larger sum for the attendant? Maybe an extra tip? Dropping a deuce/pooping is quite a bit more involved after all. I didn't realize how important advance strategizing and planning as it relates to relieving oneself on his European vacation was until I started hanging out at the ole' Helpline. Now, it's number one on my personal to-do list before any trip. Actually, it's number two right behind studying the complete text of the Schengen Treaty. I think dressing and living like a local is number three. Those are probably the three most important things to do when planning a vacation. The direct answer to your question is yes, you may have to pay in some places, and having some change available just in case the toilet you're visiting charges is a good idea. Sometimes you pay an attendant, sometimes you place the coins in a tray, sometimes you have to put them in a turnstile door before you can even enter...it varies. However, unless you're in a train station or some other place where every WC there is a pay WC, you can almost always find a free toilet somewhere when you're out on the street shopping, sight-seeing, or whatever if you're resourceful enough. Except for the occasional charge already mentioned, Europe really differs not from any very big city here in terms of finding a toilet you can use and use for free.
@Michael - would number 4 be "whatever shall I do if Rick's favorite restaurant/hotel/overlook is momentarily booked up? Think for myself ???? Oh the horror....
My first experience with "pay to Pee" was at Amsterdam's train station. I decided to hold it and find a restroom in a nearby department store for free. Wrong. Had to pay there. In a subsequent trip to Italy I learnt the McDonald's relief plan, which is FREE. No purchase necessary.
And then there was the lady at Innsbruck Hbf who put a 2 euro coin into what she thought was the change machine and got back a condom.
@Lou, most McDonalds now charge also. The one in Rome was 50 Euro cents, but it was clean and modern and I really didn't mind paying.
Not necessarily, Lou. I have been in several McDonalds where you had to have the code on your purchase receipt to get into the restroom.
So let me get this straight - I've spent thousands to get across the pond where I can have a great holiday seeing and doing things I can't see/do at home, and I'm going to whinge about spending 50p for the convenience of using a comparatively clean toilet? Hmmm...taking 'budget' travel a bit too far to an extreme...?
Rest stops in Germany- usually €0.70, and you get a €0.50 coupon to use in the restaurant. Keep plenty of 50 and 20 cent pieces.
Have seen this in many places: the attendant has a bowl/tray/basket that has all one euro coins so you are led to believe this is standard and lesser coins are not appropriate. My limit is the equivalent of .50 at the most.
Is everyone on this Helpline too young to remember having to pay to get into the stalls in the women's rooms in the US? You could wriggle under the door in some cases, provided you were willing to put you hands on the bathroom and your head near the bathroom floor! It was pretty common. I think it was dime it may have been a nickel. There was usually at least one free stall, but if you had to go you often couldn't wait. And then there was the question of catching the door before closes as someone came out. Just what did it say of the departing occupant who firmly closes the door behind her vs holding it open for the next poor soul. : ) See what Wikipedia has to say on the subject. Interesting to hear that it was the feminist who got rid of them here. Of course, the men in US never experienced pay toilets. Or at least they very, very rarely experienced them. : ) Pam
Now that is a business that would never be outsourced, would always be needed, probably always have a potential clientele, and could be lucrative if well located and automated as much as possible. Nothing casts a pall over the hour more than being forced to use a grotty public toilet when nothing else is available. :)
Perhaps we should all pool our money and open a franchise next to the McDonalds on the Champs Elysées Paris. Within 24 hours we would recoup the investment and be millionaires to boot!
I'm thinking outside a heaving pub - you know, all that beer and people tend to stay longer - but then again those jumbo-sized drinks at McDonalds. People do usually eat and leave though. Food for thought...
To elaborate.....the lines to use the WCs at Champs Elysées MickyD are infamous:) They sometimes stretch out of the building and into the street. Most of the folks in that line haven't purchased anything at the counters.
Cost varies by city, most large train stations have coin-operated turnstiles. In Krakow it's called "2 for the Loo" (2 zloty). Piped-in music, too. Very civilized.
While it is certainly true that you will not find free toilets everywhere like in the US and you should have a supply of coins available for emergencies, I think you can relax a bit. If you have a moderately secure bladder you can last at least a few hours between visits. In that time you are likely to either visit a museum (usually free), cafe or McD's (frequently free), or your own lodging (free). Our last trip to Italy was four weeks and I don't think I paid to pee a single time - and my bladder isn't young anymore. Then again, it was Italy in July and I was sweating plenty...
At least you got a seat. I paid €1 in Verona, and got a hole in the ground, porcelain, albeit, but still a hole.
@Laurie, Last April,I used the McDonald's at Piazza de la Republica in Roma and paid NADA.
So funny re: McD's on Champs Elysee...I had to go in there! After holding for what seemed like hours (and it prob was at least 3) after the washrooms at the Tulleries ended up being closed...that was pretty desperate times...I didn't know where else to go - paid or not. And the line was epically long...lol. But you learn quick...in most cases...paid = clean...with toilet paper and paper towels/hand dryers...as opposed to some grotty free ones sans tp (I'm looking at you, Cinque Terre).
Lessons I've learned about toilets. 1. Use them when they are available. Do not ever wait until you need one, if you can help it. 2. If you are in need, head for the classiest hotel around. Doesn't matter what you look like, they will never refuse you. And most of the time, you can find them without even asking. The 5-star hotel lobbies (and the toilets too) are fun to see anyway. 3. In Venice - go into the Signoria. Lots of free toilets past the cloakroom - no ticket needed. 4. In Spain - go into any bar for a drink - a cup of tea or a bottle of water costs €1 - same as a pay toilet. 5. In Italy - always have lots of coins on hand. You need them to turn the lights on all the beautiful artwork in the churches. Don't waste them on a toilet.
"And then there was the lady at Innsbruck Hbf who put a 2 euro coin into what she thought was the change machine and got back a condom." Good thing she didn't accidentally buy the other product these machines usually dispense. The first word of the name is "pocket" and the second is also a synonym for "cat"... I just think it needs to be re-emphasized what you're paying for- a pristinely clean washroom that is always well stocked. If you don't want to pay, here's your free option in Scotland.
It's hard to believe how much thought some put into this issue...do you seriously worry about this crap (no pun) when vacationing here? I mean, do you honestly try to squeeze something out every chance you get when in SF, NY, Chicago, Toronto, or wherever because you just never know when you'll see another toilet? Maybe it's an age thing, but why must one strategize this all out in advance? If you have to go and you have to pay, then pay. If you have to go and don't have to pay, then don't. Just go when you have to...you're not toddlers. Aren't there more important things to plan for? Thanks, Tom...I just spit out my coffee laughing...meow. :)
To add to @Chani. Always have kleenix with you; and purell or wet wipes. While these items usually aren't necessary in the pay toilets because they are pretty clean, they are useful in other toilets. In a lot of bars, restaurants, and museums, I was glad that I was packing my own t.p. (kleenix) and purell.
I mean, do you honestly try to squeeze something out every chance you get when in SF, NY, Chicago, Toronto, or wherever because you just never know when you'll see another toilet? Yes(squared). Good lucky trying to find facilities in Manhattan you can use if you're not a paying customer. Some posh hotels even have room card readers in order to get into the toilets near the lobby. Both NYC and Toronto have a huge homeless populations and restricting public toilet access is a strategy merchants use to keep them at bay.
I've been the victim of some bathroom emergencies where I was grateful to use some of the grossest, dingiest bathrooms ever. If you get in a situation like that, don't turn up your nose. I had a seat to sit on and didn't have to dig a hole and believe me, that was enough.
@Lou,"Last April,I used the McDonald's at Piazza de la Republica in Roma and paid NADA." Technically wouldn't that be "Niente?" And all the reassurances that the WC are clean and pristine. Does that come with a money back guarantee?
"Yes(squared). Good lucky trying to find facilities in Manhattan you can use if you're not a paying customer. Some posh hotels even have room card readers in order to get into the toilets near the lobby. Both NYC and Toronto have a huge homeless populations and restricting public toilet access is a strategy merchants use to keep them at bay." So, you strategize a lot (to the second power, in fact) about urinating as part of your trip planning before you visit those two cities and then force yourself to go when you happen across an available washroom, even when you don't really need to (or maybe you have a list and map of where you can go since you do so much planning around this)? Sorry, but that's weird. I have never had the problems you're concerned about with respect to not being able to find a toilet when I have needed one in either of those two cities, ever. Maybe you're simply not resourceful enough.
So, you strategize a lot (to the second power, in fact) about urinating as part of your trip planning before you visit those two cities and then force yourself to go, even when you don't really need to, any time you happen across an available washroom (or maybe you have a list and map of where you can go since you did so much planning around this)? Is that what you're saying? Sorry, but that's weird. Yes (squared). Relieving oneself is an important bodily function. Human's need to go to the bathroom like they need oxygen. Asking about strategies to accomplish this when one has never been overseas and doesn't speak the language etc. is a completely legitimate travel concern.
And women also have other bathroom needs that need to be planned for, or they can become emergencies. I was told "never pass up an opportunity to pee", and I live by that because you never know when your next opportunity may come.
If advance trip planning relative to achieving perfect physiological balance while vacationing in Europe is so important to Rick's flock, maybe he should add several new chapters to ETBD. There could be a chapter on maintaining good homeostasis and another on breathing. Shoot, he could add an entire chapter on urinating. Maybe that would answer all of these questions.
Free restrooms/WC anywhere in the world. This begs the question "is there an App for that?"
There is an app for thatSit or Squat from Charmin. : ) Actually, isn't this something that every parent does with children before departing for any trip longer than 5 minutes? "Have been to the bathroom?" "Have you emptied?" "Who knows when we'll next see the bathroom. Go now!" I'm sure others have other parental directives on this subject!
To avoid uromysitisis you have to plan ahead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG6b7KJ1Ah0 (I cannot believe I beat Michael Schneider in making the first reference!)
Some posters here have obviously never been pregnant, had a urinary tract infection, had a stomach virus, or traveled with small kids and just inherently knew everything about traveling in the continent of Europe before ever getting here. Then again, they think that many of us who post here are probably just old, retirees that worry about the dumbest things and who also have no fashion sense. Ah, to be a young, fashionable whipper snapper again, knowledgeable about all things Europe, and without a worry in the world.
Michael, yes this is an important questionif you too were traveling with my mother you would understand. I did try suggesting depends, but got an eye roll with a sneer. I asked because I'm getting ready to pre-order some euros & if putting a roll of those .50 peices is needed, then I am doing so. Just wasn't sure what coin to get....now I knowthanks all for the info. Oh, & if dropping a log requires 2 peices of silver I'm pretty sure we're all ok to not go broke, we tend do our logging in the mornings on ship ;)
"if dropping a log requires" Never heard that one before. I'll have to remember it...
One other thing I've learned about traveling in foreign countries, is availability of toilet paper is not always what one would expect in the US, even clean, decent bathrooms, much less those that rank 0 on a scale of 1-10. So I always carry a travel size roll from Target- costs a $1.
My first trip to China 15 years ago was an eye opening experience with toilets that consisted of a porcelain hole on the floor, and requires squatting. I'm sure if one grew up squatting, that it's second nature, but it was a challenge to manage purse, pants, etc. But the worst part was that these were and still are some of the most disgusting smelling restrooms I'd ever encountered. So after a couple days into the trip, I'd always "go" when ever I saw a "western" toilet, would limit my water intake to sips during the day, and hold my breath when there was no option. That being said, I don't mind spending .50cents in Italy if it helps keep restrooms clean.
Traveling with small children, with a medical condition, or while pregnant certainly introduces a bit of complexity into one's travel preparations. That's obvious to be sure, but that's not what we're talking about here. Stick to the point when responding to a specific reply, Frau. I decided to query friends/travel partners last night about this just to validate if my own opinion on this topic was somehow way out of whack. To a person, not one has ever done any pre-thinking or pre-planning whatsoever specific to urinating while on vacation in Europe or anywhere else. And some of these folks are very well-traveled, much more so than myself (but maybe not as much as Pensacola Ed). And some of them have menstrual cycles and have traveled internationally while pregnant. We can start a new debate on urinary tract infections, stomach viruses, erectile dysfunction, or dropping logs if you want to, but the issue I've been discussing is pre-planning to pee as one would pre-plan their hotels, restaurants, sight-seeing activities, etc. And, yes, I still think it's odd for a healthy person to do that (squared). But, hey, what does a hick from Des Moines know? Plan away, and enjoy your pre-planned pee/poop breaks. :)
The Four P's. Pre Planned Pee/Poop breaks. And really, Michael, all the OP asked was if she should carry change around for toilets. That doesn't mean she's PPPP OCD.
LIKE for Michael from Des Moines take on prioritizing your travel needs. I remember buying an item at McDonalds in Reims in order to gain access to the ladies room only to find the old fashioned hole in the floor. The problem being, once you finish it is hard to get up. They should have a handicapped stall for seniors..otherwise start doing whatever
exercise is called for. Another priority!
If I had a dime for every desperate tourist that came to the desk at the bookstore where I worked in Paris across from the Tuileries Gardens, begging me to let them use a restroom, I'd be a rather well-off lady. PPPP has struck many voyagers and made them miserable, I'd say!!!
Karen: You are right...I need to lighten up. Your 4 P concept is funny.
To Michael from Iowa and Randy, Not all bladders are alike. I will spare you the medical details, but there is no way I can go three or four hours without visiting a rest room. And having to go badly is agony, as in you can't enjoy anything. So please do not poke fun at people who need to think about this in advance of traveling. I am one of those who never passes an opportunity to use the restroom. It makes complete sense for me. If you don't need to, be grateful! :)
Micheal I'm glad you completely mis-read my post..looking at the number of replies, bathroom breaks are an important issue to many. I will also note that in 1 of the Rick Steves guide books I have, he mentions "this is a good place to use the restrooms, they are clean & the only ones in this area". Click his what to pack tab..they mention the need for bathroom wipes. Remembering to take note of who you are traveling with & what true needs each person has, why not take the time to be a little OCD in the planning stage? If breaking a trip down to even the littlest parts helps ensure a better quality timeI say GO FOR IT!! I'm having a great time preparing for our upcoming trip..I'm already learning about different cultures & I haven't even clicked my heels yet (a thing we Kansas folk do). Next year my European trip will be with my husband & yes "winging" it will be just fine..this one with my mother, eeh not so much.
Michael, someday your prostate will take revenge on you for the above comments...
Two things. 1) I just gave our neighbor small Euro coins for pee money. She departed for Lisbon yesterday. 2) I just purchased our pee cards from Venice Connected as we purchased our 72-hr travel passes for my wife and daughter's upcoming trip to Italy. Yes, you can buy them online. You get two per day. You give one to the usually matronly-like woman running the toilet facility. I guess that she can turn them in for credit or Euros. Yes you pay to pee and its worth it.
a simple formula we use in Venice is one public toilet costs around €1.50. One expresso costs between €0.80 and €1.20, usually around €1. With a stand-up espresso in any bar - they are all over, never more than a few feet away - for your Euro you get to pee and have a wonderful coffee. Pee = coffee = €1. Better than the public toilets, nicer, no crowds, and a coffee thrown in for less than a public toilet.
Nigel, haha, this would not be a good deal for me. If I drank that coffee, I'd have to pee again in half an hour and again in another half hour. I envy you guys who can drink caffeinated drinks and not have to go for a few hours. I actually hate coffee and don't drink anything with caffeine. But I'd love to have a bladder that could handle it!
Nige? For this bargain deal...... ...... is there some kind of double use of the cup involved?
1.50 Euro to take a leak??? You must be peeing in some highfalutin places or maybe this is one of those instances where if you aren't dressed fashionably enough and look too much like a tourist the Italians are pulling out the 1.50 Euro sign to place next to the change tray on the vanity. In the last 2 weeks I only paid 0.40 Euro (about 52 cents in US) twice. Both times in Antwerp. And technically, 1 of the 2 instances I could have used the toilet for free by showing my ticket stub from Rubenshuis (there was a sign clearly stating the toilet located in the cafe next door was free for those with a ticket), but I chose to drop the 0.40 Euro in the tray because the matron running the ladies room was playing KC & The Sunshine Band "Shake Your Booty" on a boom box which I thought was hilarious and worthy of the 0.40 to park my arse on a clean toilet seat for 15 seconds. The other 0.40 Euro was for an entirely spontaneous pee after having drank 2 pints of Belgian ale and then chugging a half liter of bottled water. 2 hours later I popped into C&A since I was pretty sure they would have a ladies room somewhere. They did. And because I did not have exact change and wasn't going to quibble over 0.10 Euro, I dropped 0.50 Euro in the tray. In Amsterdam I discovered a Museumkaart will not only get you unlimited visits to dozens of museums all over the city, but in the really small museums where there is never a line, I could reliably count on a free bathroom being on the ground floor. So even though I had already visited the Tassen Museum a few days before to see the exhibits, walking near there I had to make a sudden unplanned pit stop & popped in to use their ladies room then immediately left after I was done. Now would I have stood in the giant line on a Saturday in front of the Rijksmuseum to use their free toilet with my museumkaart? No way. I would have pissed in my pants by the time I got to the front of the line.
Ceidleh he was citing bathrooms in Venice specifically . Venice being very expensive anyways I have no problem believing this.. I personally never paid to use wc in Venice as I always use any free WC I encounter at restos, museums etc. and was not above returning to hotel for breaks.
Tom: And then it will be my turn to tongue-lash the youngsters here who dare question me about my prostate and its wrath upon my ability to control my bladder as I once did...I'm sure it will be the size of a honeydew one of these days and everyone here can say, "I told you so...who's laughing now?" You're right...I'll pay some day. :)
Whoa, Ceidleh has taken my mind to a whole new place. Play lists for public toilets. "Shake Your Booty" is great, but the only other one that comes to mind would be "My Ding-A-Ling." I'll have to work on that. Might have to have a little music playing in my bathroom at the next party. EDIT-and a little googling brought me this:
as you get ready to sit a motion sensor starts the playing of...."I like big butts & I can not lie.." I'm with you Karen, MUST look into this for our bathrooms!! LOL
"Won't you back that a** up!"
For men of a certain age, Prince Philip's quote, when asked his number one tip about surviving travel, might be the most apt: " Never pass up a chance to go to the loo."
@Karen...If it's that song, play the Chuck Berry version.
I learned that at least making a mental note of where to scout out bathrooms - particularly ones that weren't downstairs at restaurants - was pretty important when traveling with my mother and grandmother, which I've done twice now in Europe and they'll be visiting again for a month (!!) in September. It's serious business, traveling with a 60 year old and 80 year old who have had 4 hip replacements between the two of them, ya dig? That said, the cost/mandatory-ness of paying really depends where you're at, and varies not only country by country but regionally. In Cologne, every restaurant I went to required payment, which is unheard of in Stuttgart. I tend to do the standard 50 cents if no sign is posted but I have German friends who pay only 20 cents or none at all if it's not explicitly stated as mandatory (I'd be too afraid of the nasty look from "Madame Peepee" to do that...plus she has a crappy job.) Anyway in cases where the "tip" is more mandatory than suggested, there will be signage telling you how much you have to pay. It's not that complicated or scary. Madame Peepee can also make change for you usually, if you don't have the exact change you want to use.
I just came back from Italy and the only place I ran into paid toilets were in Venice and they charged 1.50 euro. Then it was just a matter of whether I could find a public toilet in the first place, so we wound up using bars as a good excuse to stop for a drink and bathroom break.
Hellovenevezia sells not only vaporetto and museum passes, but also toilet passes.
Maybe they should have bathrooms around like the bike things they have in London. Or like a Oyster card. Pee card & you only have to use it so many times & it's maxed out. The rest of the pee is free. Lol. Where are the free ones? I had hoped to use McDonalds too.
"So, if one needs to do a bit more than "pee" as you say, shall they leave a larger sum for the attendant?" Yes, Michael/Des Moines! And I've really only heard of this from men, since urinals aren't typically stocked with TP; if you want to sit-n-wipe, you pay extra beforehand for a wad of paper from the Hall Monitor. And although you've since seen the error of your ways ;-) I can't take much off of someone who can whiz behind any ol' building or in any ol' alley, if desparate enough. Not that you would, but...I really prefer, but don't absolutely need, somewhere less 'casual' (I have a growing collection of feminine pee-like-a-man gizmos). Hence, yes, I think about it a lot! We always bring 'pee coins' home with us from Europe; they're kept with the passports. Seriously. Wow, Tom - I didn't know guys could buy 'pocket cats' in the restrooms. They don't sell those in the Little Girls' Room ^..^ I learn something everytime I read the Helpline ;-)