Find public restrooms and be free to go……..says world traveler Ferne Arfin
If you’ve ever searched for a toilet in vain, this story is for you. Ever been caught short in the middle of your self-guided urban walking tour; while trying to enjoy a world famous market, or exploring street art in an unfamiliar city?
If you’ve travelled with children or elderly relatives, had one too many cups of tea, pints of beer, bottles of coke – or if you’ve ever just had one of those days – you know that finding decent public restrooms when you are far from home can be the kind of challenge that ruins your entire outing.
Luckily, thanks to smart phones and apps, help is available. So whether you call the smallest room a loo, w.c., lavvie, bog, bathroom, restroom, ladies, gents, toilette or toilet, there are several free apps and websites available to help you find one. Here’s a rundown on a few that are available in your phone’s browser or free from App stores for both IOS and Android operating systems.
The reason locals never seem to have this problem is not because there are close to home. It’s just that they know which supermarkets, office buildings, public libraries, coffee shops, department stores, public parks and even McDonald’s have safe, clean lavatories anyone can use.
Toilet Finder (http://testweb.toiletfinder.net/) lists routes to more than 150,000 facilities worldwide with filters to select those that are free and those that have disabled access as well as by star ratings from other users. The app distinguishes between restaurants, shopping centres, petrol or gas stations, bars and public restrooms. Plus it is linked to mapping, so it plots a route to the nearest relief. The app, from developer BETOMORROW, boasts 1.5 million downloads and 50,000 contributors. It is available in six different languages
Flush Toilet Finder & Map , (https://www.jrustonapps.com/apps/flush-toilet-finder) from Yorkshire developer J Ruston Apps, links to your phone’s location system so, as long as you allow apps to place you on a map, simply opening it will lead you to the nearest facility. The app lets you know which require a fee or key access and you don’t have to fiddle around with Google maps – the system provides instant mapping. It boasts 190,000 listings worldwide with icons to indicate disabled access. Users can add and rate their own discoveries and choose four different languages.
The Great British Toilet Map (https://www.toiletmap.org.uk/) is a website, not an app, so you have to have either WiFi or 4G Internet access to use it. But if you can open it in your phone’s browser, it has plenty of information and very good maps – both neighbourhood overviews and inset detail maps. Click on your selection and you get a large scale chart of everything that is known – facilities, baby changing, handicapped access, fee, opening hours and user star ratings. The website, sponsored by Domestos, a popular brand of cleaning bleach, is produced by Public Convenience (https://publicconvenience.org/). It only lists publicly accessible toilets in the UK but there are 11,000 of them in public buildings, businesses and community schemes run by local councils. Edited out are those where you have to ask permission or where use is limited to customers, so that’s very handy.
Ferne Arfin is an award-winning London-based journalist and freelance writer of more than 30 year’s experience, more than ten of them in travel and new media. Her work has appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times and the International Herald Tribune. Currently, she blogs about UK and European travel (with occasional forays further afield) at The View from Chelsea.com (https://theviewfromchelsea.com) and is a contributing writer on the UK and Greece for TripSavvy.com (formerly About.com).