How to poop in the Middle East and Africa: Travel tips

Hey guys! Learning how to POOP!? Oh, that’s right! It’s Cultural Tidbits Monday and today we are taking a little break from the “Traveling Through Food” series so I can show you a funny, albeit quite useful, post I published a bit ago on my Travel The Middle East website. Indeed, learning how to poop while traveling the Middle East or Africa (or any other third world country or place with squatters, really) is a skill that must be mastered and be on your high-priority list along with packing and other RTW-soon prep. And so, with no more preambles…

There is no more valuable lesson when traveling the Middle East or Africa than…knowing how to poop. That’s right folks: Pooping is indeed an art, one which must be mastered if you plan to travel throughout the Arab world and any other developing countries for that matter. So today I show you what I learned from living and traveling the Middle East for 16 months.

How to poop - Squatter

How to poop method squatter (Photo: Mintguy, Wiki Commons)

1. Practice squatting

While practicing may seem stupid to you, knowing how to squat is not enough in order to be able to actually know how to poop properly. Ask me, when I had to squat for long periods of time in the scorching Egyptian sun by a hole with only wooden walls, a door, and no roof. I would just squat there until actually, well, going, about 30 mins later (I wish not to remember sometimes). Thus I learned: You should practice how to poop while squatting at home, prior your trip. This way, if your “endurance” is not too good at first, at least you can “drop” safely on top of your toilet seat until, eventually, your body gets used to it. And trust me, it will learn how to poop right away once you squat with your pants down. It is basically muscle memory (really).

2. Spot your target and plan your strategy

Yes, you need strategy when it comes to knowing how to poop here. Start looking at some pictures of squatters (like the one above) and imagine placing yourself on it in a way that you are comfortable and able to poop properly inside the hole. If not, just practice on an actual squatter once at your destination–but when you don’t have to go. Not planning ahead will mean walking out with a prize of your, ermm, effort. This happened to me several times during desert trips until I finally learned to plan ahead and practice my strategy when I didn’t have to go so I could be ready for when I had to.

3. Be prepared

Always carry plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer with you. Why both? The tissue will be good for wiping, while the sanitizer will be the true cleaner. For instance, what if you make a mistake while squatting? I’m sure you’ll want to sanitize the victimized area afterward. Never underestimate squatting accidents–they can be pretty ugly. Once I lost my balance…and yes, I fell on it. All of it. Not only did I not have enough tissue to clean up, but I didn’t have any sanitizer whatsoever. Nonetheless, lesson learned (and the dirty way)

4. Always carry a bag

While some of your waste will decompose, your tissue probably won’t. We don’t want to pollute the environment–always carry a bag you can tie to put dirty, non-biological items in. How to Poop Etiquette 101, okay?

5. Practice digging

Sometimes, you find yourself in a situation where no squatter is nearby and you really need to go. We want to be as considerate as we can be, so knowing how to poop properly includes Etiquette 102: Practice digging a little hole in record time on your backyard. Recommended depth is 6-8 inches or 15-20 cm by the way. The more you practice at home, the faster you’ll be able to dig a hole once abroad and the least likely that you’ll poop yourself in the process. Some of you might think “well, I’ll just poop on the surface!” Really, really? Not nice…

Got more tips on how to poop abroad? Share on a comment below!

10 thoughts on “How to poop in the Middle East and Africa: Travel tips

  1. Haha! I love that you suggest people practice for the occasion. Perhaps you should set up a training course for extra dollars? I’d sign up if there was a certificate at the end…

  2. Strategy ftw! Last month, we went to Cameron Highlands and there’s a common bathroom for the guests to use. I was contemplating whether I should poop by squatting or just wait for my trip back to KL =)) I then decided that might as well try it. Challenging, but I managed to survive and ‘shoot’ it =))

  3. Hilarious, but certainly an important piece. I must say, the mental image of a lady pooping in a spot like that and thinking, ‘this will be a great blog post’ sure is funny.


    • LOL, I actually wasn’t even thinking about travel blogging at the time. However, when looking for ideas for a post, these “experiences” came to mind. Haha

  4. This sh*t was great! (no pun in intended). As much as I can’t help but smirk whenever I see a sorry female that has to hover their buttox mere inches from putrid toilets to take a wee wee while I get to stand, hands at hips, nefariously cackling… I guess both sexes are in the same boat when it comes to dookie. Good tips, and I’ll start my squat regiment shortly!

  5. LOL! I can’t believe y fell on it! In India its second nature to us 🙂 I remember once someone asking me how to use it at the airport. Honestly, was amused. Personally, I find it more hygienic than the western toilet. No touching business

    • well, it is more difficult when it comes to pants. I would personally take everything off, hang all pieces around my neck, and get to squatting. LOL. oh wait… That’s another great tip! I should add it!

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