While traveling you will access services on your journey. You’ll need cash to pay for goods and services as not all places except credit cards. You need to communicate back home or with business while in Europe with the use of a phone or the internet. You may require minor or major health care assistance and support. In case of a serious emergency you may need to contact police or even ask for assistance from a US Embassy. Please read our pages for information and how to attain services.
Toilets & Restrooms…
First let’s start by saying they do not call them Restrooms or Bathrooms in Europe. No matter what primary language is spoken they are normally called Toilets or WC’s, which stands for water closet. The signs indicating the location of these facilities can usually be WC, or just a sign saying Toilets.
You will find public WC’s in airports, train & bus stations, restaurants, highway rest areas, museums, hotel lobbies, department stores, some public buildings, etc. You will find the rooms can be very small in restaurants or very old buildings, this the buildings where built years before public plumbing was available, so they had to squeeze them in to the existing structure.
You’ll find WC facilities are gender neutral and shared by both men & women. These are stall toilets only and unlike in American the are fully contained with no open space below or over the adjoining stalls. You may find yourself waiting inline with others and once a person exits a stall the next person inline may enter. Sometimes there may be an attendant collecting the fee and monitoring the line, directing people when they may enter.
There is a fee for the use of many WC’s, usually .50 – 1€ . In some newer facilities have payment kiosk machines. Once you have inserted the proper coinage required will be able to pass through. May sure you always have change as they may not accept credit cards.
Facility Types and Amenities…
In many modern WC’s there will be two buttons on the top of the tank. One button is a normal flush the other is a light flush to conserve water. Older WC’s may have the old style chain hanging down that you’ll need to pull on for a flush. In the UK there are some pump toilets with a flush handle. We in America have become acclimated to sit on the throne but, much of the world just squats. So in Southern and Eastern Europe and many other places in the world, you will find what we call the squat toilet. It is a porcelain fixture on the floor with footprints and a whole in the middle. Pay toilets on the streets can be found in large cities like Paris, London and Amsterdam. These are a little larger than a phone booth but, could come in handy. You insert the proper amount of coinage and the door opens for a fifteen minute session. After you’re done the unit is automatically sanitized so you can be confident they are clean.
Some WC’s may not have toilet paper so it is always advisable to carry a travel size pack of tissues. Some attendants will issue a pack when paying them the facility fee. In some instances there may not be soap or towels and a hand air dryer. Diaper changing areas in WC’s are almost non-existent.
We have heard of some ugly stories about toilets in public areas that where not cleaned or serviced. However, in all of our travels we have never found one as bad as those Port-A-Potties we typically see at outside events in America.
If you pack light, as suggested, you will not have enough clean clothes to get you through two weeks. If you are you are like most of us you’ll want clean clothing to wear everyday you are on your trip so what are your options. All have advantages and disadvantages.
1. USE THE LAUNDRY SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE HOTEL…
Most Hotels provide laundry services. They provide a plastic laundry bag in your rooms closet with a checklist of what items you want cleaned and how you want them washed or dry cleaned. Put the soiled clothes in the bag with the checklist filled out and leave at the check in counter early in the morning. That way you’ll be assured of having them back the next day in the afternoon. This is extremely convenient but also expensive.
There are some hotels that provide a laundry room with a washer and dryer. You may have to wait as guests can line up to use it. Usually a little pricey at typically €5.00 per load and a little time consuming but, still less than using the hotel laundry service.
2. TAKE YOUR CLOTHES TO A NEARBY LAUNDRY ESTABLISHMENT…
One option is taking your clothes too any cleaner near to your hotel or accommodations. They may not be able to complete them in a day and if the cleaners are located in a tourist area the prices will be higher. You may also find a self service coin operated laundromats in tourist areas. They are normally in high residential areas but, may be worth the cost to travel the distance. Check prior with your hotel to see if they have on site coin operated laundry services. If they state laundry with valet service, that means they provide the service but they do not have a laundromat or a cleaner on premises for your convenience.
3. WASH YOUR OWN CLOTHES…
In the Bathroom Sink
You can always do your wash there. You’ll need to take some travel size packets of laundry soap or you can use regular bar soap furnished by the hotel. It would be also recommended to have rubber sink stopper as many drain stops do not work properly in rooms. when washing your clothes let them soak briefly and then wash them by hand the old fashion way, rubbing the fabric together. After washing rise them in clear water, preferably in the bath tub if you have one. If not empty the sink and refill with clean water and rinse all clothes out throughly.
In a Ziploc Bag
Yes you heard that correctly. Buy or bring a heavy duty ziploc bag sometimes called a Aloksak. Usually a 16″ x 24″ works best with a small amount of soap. Place dirty clothing in and fill with hot water. Agitate the clothing in the bag with your hands like a washing machine. Let stand and soak for 10 to 15 minutes and empty.
Travel Size Products
There is a good selection of travel size laundry products available in the stores. In case you can’t find the brands you like to use, consider packing a few when you depart.
Wring clothing out and line dry where possible. You may also want to consider bringing a small clothes line and optional clothes pins for hanging certain items. After wringing clothing out you can also place articles of clothing flat on a clean dry bath towel. Roll up the article and squeeze or even step on the towel. The towel will absorb more moisture out the the clothing allowing it to dry faster. Remember, blended fabrics dry faster than 100% cotton and dry your clothes where there is good ventilation to shorten the drying time. Baths have a tendency to retain more moisture and longer drying times for clothing. If some articles do not completely dry, try using an dry iron on them to get rid of any excess moisture.