You are on a river trip, and you need to go to the bathroom... What do you do?
Let's face it, the comfort of doing this on the river is not as close as the comfort of doing it anywhere else with a roof over your head, which is what makes a lot of people anxious.
In reality, however, using the bathroom is not that hard and should not be different from what you are used to. We are all human beings, and we all go to the toilet – and there is absolutely nothing that should discomfort you during your trip of a lifetime.
So, here is the big question you are probably asking yourself right now...
How Do You Go To The Bathroom During Your River Rafting Trip?
To make things easier, from now on, we will refer to peeing as #1 and pooping as #2 in this guide to going to the bathroom on the river. So, let's explore the options.
Going To #1 (Peeing) On A River Trip
Peeing, or going to #1 on a rafting trip, is something you should be OK doing in the water. While it may seem logical to you to use the nature surrounding you, think about all the people rafting and how bad the place would smell if everyone was peeing near the river in the dry and desert environment.
So, peeing in the river is totally OK – obviously, as long as there are no options surrounding you. If there are restrooms near your location, guests should always use them.
Now, to make things practical... Most women on rafting trips wear two-piece swimsuits or sports bras and quick-drying underwear under their clothes, all of which allow for peeing in the river easier. Some even use a female urination device that allows them to pee standing up, mostly because the water is cold and it takes some time to get things flowing. However, all liquids must go into the river, which is why going on a hike just to pee or doing it near the river doesn't make sense.
What about pee buckets?
Pee buckets are another common way to do number one when in camp. They are great for all situations when it is either rocky or steep or dark to get to the water and urinate. Most guides set up pee buckets near the camp toilet hand wash station so that it's easier to do number one and then sanitize.
If you are planning on using a pee bucket outside of your tent, make sure to do it and dump it directly into the river after use or in the morning. Make sure to give it a good rinse – the guides will sanitize it later on before packing it up for the day.
Going To #2 (Pooping) On A River Trip
Now, the more complicated thing, which is number two, or pooping while on a river trip. But don't worry – there is a solution for that, too.
If you are on a multi-day river rafting trip, you should know that during the day, number two should happen in camp with a toilet-to-go system, which is essentially a personal waste bucket. This one is also known as the groover, the unit, loo with a view, or la pooperia among guides.
A groove is a common and fancy name to describe this toilet system which even looks like your household toilet, aside from the flushing aspect. You should think of it as a portable pit toilet that your guides keep clean. At the same time, this is the most eco-friendly way to both contain and neutralize human waste. Plus, you shouldn't worry about toilet paper – the kit includes it, along with an antiseptic towelette.
If you are wondering how it got the name groover, the story dates back to the army and soldiers using ammo cans to hold their waste. Since those were rectangular in shape, it was comfortable for them to do number two on them, and they would leave grooves on the users' bottoms. The can today is similar but more comfortable, thanks to technology.
If you can, try to time your number two to happen within the camp – there is the actual metal vault with a toilet seat there, making things more comfortable. The groovers or toilet-to-go systems are usually placed in a discreet location (and they often have some great views of the surroundings), which is why doing number two there makes more sense.
Lastly, be mindful of the "toilet key" which is actually something you should consider – and take when going to the toilet so that everyone else who comes knows that the toilet is occupied. A paddle is what works as a key here – you should grab it and take it with you as you go to do your number two business. This is how guides prioritize privacy and comfort, allowing guests to relax on a river trip. When you feel the time is right, make sure to know where it is located and where the key is.
More Tips On Going #1 And #2 When On A River Trip
Peeing in the river is OK – in fact, it's recommended
If you want to pee at night but the water is dark, the area is rocky or the river is far away, you can always use a pee bucket (they are usually placed near the hand washing station)
Most importantly, do not hold it! Whatever you do, try to find a solution but don't hold it during the entire trip or try skipping the toilet! Everyone understands that #1 and #2 are human needs!
Make sure to know where the groover is located (helpful especially if you want to visit during the night)
It's smart to get yourself on a schedule for number two, so work on that before your river rafting trip
It's not wise to go hiking just to do number two while on a white water rafting trip
Most camps have actual bathrooms with easy access with a special "toilet key" that allows for privacy and comfort
Don't worry about toilet paper – there is a toilet-to-go system that includes it + an antiseptic towelette
Lastly, if you do number two in camp, make sure to enjoy the view – doing it in nature is certainly relaxing!
Sometimes, there will be a line for "the key," but it's completely OK to be normal about it – after all, we've all read a book called "Everyone Poops."
A Few Words On Female Hygiene On A Rafting Trip
For women who are on their period while on a river trip, there is also a solution to do things normally surrounded by nature. If you are using tampons, make sure to bring a "Go With Your Flow Pack" or a couple of Ziplock bags and plenty of baby wipes. Keeping all of these things with you during the day in your day dry bag can help you maintain your hygiene. When you change during the day, you can wrap the trash in a baby wipe, put that in a Ziplock bag and dispose of it easily, discreetly, and sanitarily in the boat's trash system. Make sure to tuck the bag deep down into the boat trash, though.
Lastly, using pads for menstruation is not the smartest solution – you'll get wet a lot on your trip. Instead, you can use a reusable menstrual cup that collects menstrual flow rather than absorbing it. This one is great because it prevents leaks for up to 12 hours. A good example of a system like this is the "Diva Cup."
Multi-Day Rafting: Sanitation Tips & Strategies
Life on the river is much simpler, much more relaxing, but also quite different from life in urban areas. While going to the bathroom, doing #1 and #2, and a lot of other stuff change, good sanitation practices don't change – in fact, they shouldn't change.
What we mean by this is that hands still need to be washed, dishes are still cleaned, and everyone needs to properly disinfect, especially after going to the bathroom. Guides are used to maintain the groover well, and you can still take a bath.
First on our list is hand washing. Mom always said to wash your hands after you go, and that rule applies on the river, too! There are often stations with soap and water to get clean post your #1 or #2 break. Guides often set up hand washing systems that pump water from one bucket to the next, allowing you to wash your hands before and after using the toilet, as well as before eating.
Next, we have dish sanitation. All of us know that washing the dishes is an inescapable practice, but on a river trip, at least you can do it with your friends. The most sanitary method of cleaning plates is to imitate the kitchen setup, where guides provide you with four buckets, dish gloves, and a trash receptacle. The first bucket is the warm and soapy bucket, the second one is the hot soapy one, the third one is reserved for rinsing, and the last one is the cold bleach bucket.
On the topic of personal hygiene, we recommend bringing at least two different outfits a day. Having a set of river clothes that can easily get dirty and another set of camp clothes that stay dry is wise – along with a second pair of shoes. After all, spending a whole day with wet feet urges you to bring some warm socks and shoes and put some lotion on your feet.
Ready to have a river adventure of a lifetime?
They say that 'everything is better in nature, and as creatures of nature, it's easy to adapt and do number one and two when on a river rafting trip. You will see this for yourself – so do not worry about anything in terms of planning!
We hope this guide helped you understand more about using the bathroom during a river trip and how everything works for expedition groups doing multi-day trips.
You'll easily get the hang of everything on your first day, just make sure to avoid too many liquids or foods that stimulate number two. Just go with the flow and enjoy your trip!