Travel Tips For Writers: Bring Toilet Paper

Travel Tips for Writersby Joe Wallace

Classy picture, eh? But it grabs your attention and I definitely want to turn your attention to this most delicate of all travel writing and traveling writer tips–ye olde “necessary room”.

The experienced world traveler knows that bathroom facilities around the world vary wildly from our western comforts; from the squat-style privvies of Japan to the “go in the alley” free-for-all in some other places.

One of the most important travel tips I can offer–and not just one handy for overseas travel, mind you–is to carry your own toilet paper. You NEVER know when it will come in handy and it has uses beyond the obvious.When I was a globe-hopping reporter for Air Force Television News, I routinely found myself in out-of-the-way places. In the middle of the nowhere in Honduras on a humanitarian mission, camera in hand, or on a freezing windswept mini-mountain made of volcanic rock in Iceland, the trusty TP is a real necessity.

But I wound up using my roll in SO many ways–it was a bit of added protection for my camera lens on a rocky drive through the Icelandic countryside–in a fit of paranoia I put it in front of my camera lens in a tightly packed jeep to keep bags and helmets from smacking up against it.

In an Air Force refueling tanker aircraft servicing fighter jets patrolling the skies above the Olympic games in Salt Lake City, the toilet paper roll was an improvised tripod for a tricky shot in the cargo area…and once (and only once) it was a pillow.

You never know when you might actually NEED to use your roll for its intended purpose–in some grotty airport bathroom in the middle of who-knows-where with sadly lacking upkeep of the restroom, or perhaps in the woods after you realize you’ve wandered out too far in search of your back-to-nature story.

Trust me, this is advice that has helped me over and over again–and not just when bored and in search of an improvised football to play catch with.