Five toilet paper alternatives for the road (or if you live in New Jersey)

Trenton, New Jersey, has a serious problem. The city government is in a fight with their paper goods supplier over prices and the city’s buildings are in danger of running out of toilet paper. What can they do for their voters in need? Installing bidets would be more expensive than simply paying the high cost the government contractor is demanding. Luckily, there are some other alternatives used in foreign lands that can help keep New Jersey clean. They can also help you out if you’re caught short while on the road.

Left hand
This is the most popular cleaning method around the world. You wipe your butt with your left hand (reserving the right for eating) and then wash your hand. It’s easier on your tender parts than scraping it with paper, and it’s guaranteed to stop you from biting your nails. While this makes sense hygienically and environmentally, for me it’s one of those five local customs I just can’t follow.

Newspapers offer an abundant supply of paper that can be cut up and stored in the bathroom. It’s a bit scratchy, but I can attest to it working just as well as toilet paper. When I was working in Bulgaria in the poverty-stricken early 90s, most Bulgarians didn’t want to spend extra money on toilet paper when they already had a newspaper. It was common practice to cut out photos of unpopular politicians to give them special treatment.Leaves
Another scratchy, yet environmentally sensitive, option favored by campers who don’t want to portage out their dirty paper. Make sure to pick large, relatively green leaves. You don’t want dry, brittle leaves that break while you’re wiping. That will leave you using the hand option whether you want to or not. Learn what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like before you try this.

If you like snow camping, you’re probably already familiar with this one. Make a compact snowball somewhat smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s best to make it oval in shape with a ridge to provide easy access into your crack. Like with leaves, this is better than bagging up dirty toilet paper and carrying it with you until you reach civilization.

Sponge on a stick
This was a method used by the ancient Romans. A sponge is absorbent and soft, making it a perfect material for cleaning your nether regions. The Romans washed their sponges with vinegar and reused them. Check out the photo below from the ancient latrine at Housesteads Roman Fort to see how it was done.

If these five alternatives don’t appeal to you, you can always do…

The father of a friend of mine didn’t use anything to clean his backside. How this man ever got a wife I’ll never know. The poor woman cleaned his skivvies in a bucket rather than put them in the washing machine with the other clothes. Yes, he smelled. Get a sponge on a stick or some leaves and clean yourself!

Hotel Madness: Second round of pet peeves

After an exciting first round, Hotel Madness moves ahead with some intriguing second round contests. We’re thrilled with the feedback and voter response to our tournament of hotel pet peeves and can’t thank you enough for participating. Apparently, you all really hate some of the things that hotels throw at us! Hopefully, you’ve been comforted by the fact that you’re not alone. If you need a refresher or just want to see how we got here, take a look at the first round.

All of the second round match-ups are listed below. Vote for the hotel problems that bother you the most and the winners will advance to the Final Four! We’re well on our way to crowning the most annoying hotel nuisance. Choose wisely (and be sure to vote in all four polls).

#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #9 Early checkout times

No free Wi-Fi, our overwhelming #1 seed, enters the second round thanks to a dominating victory last week. People really hate paying for internet access. Meanwhile, #9 Early checkout times squeaked out a minor upset in the closest race of the first round. Is it worse to pay to connect or get kicked out while you’re still in your pajamas?

#12 One-ply toilet paper vs. #4 Resort fees

The first round’s biggest upset was #12 One-ply toilet paper wiping the floor with #5 No airport shuttle. Thin toilet paper really rubs people the wrong way. It ran out to such an early lead that it left skid marks. Meanwhile, #4 Resort fees enters the second round with little momentum. Unlike the other peeves that involve money, few commentators seemed overly perturbed by resort fees. So, which is more abrasive: thin toilet paper or an ambiguous extra room charge?

#6 No free breakfast vs. #3 Expensive parking

This match-up pits our stomachs against our wallets. #6 No free breakfast juiced the competition in the first round while #3 Expensive parking put its opponent in its place. Something’s got to give. Which do you resent more?

#7 Bad water pressure vs. #2 Bad front desk service

Our final second round batter features two nuisances that put us all it crummy moods on the road. Clearly no one enjoys being treated poorly, which explains #2 seeded Bad front desk service easily advances to this round. Meanwhile, #7 Bad water pressure left people soapy and surly. Would you rather be treated poorly or left with shampoo in your hair?
Second round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Friday, March 25.

Catch up on all of the Hotel Madness first round action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hotel Madness: Vote for your biggest hotel pet peeves

We launched our Hotel Madness tournament on Monday and the entire first round is now live. If you don’t know what Hotel Madness is or you just need a refresher, check out our introductory post. First round voting is open until 11:59pm EDT this Sunday, March 20. Be sure to vote in each and every match-up listed below. Simply choose the hotel pet peeves that bother you the most. The winners will advance to the second round, which you’ll be able to vote on next week.

Make your voices heard. Vote, leave comments and let us know what you hate most about hotels.

First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hotel Madness: No airport shuttle vs. One ply toilet paper

The first round of Hotel Madness rolls along with a battle between #5 seed No airport shuttle and #12 seed One-ply toilet paper. In the NCAA basketball tournament, the 5-12 match-ups are always ripe for upsets and Hotel Madness may be no different. It’s such a hassle when there’s no airport shuttle. Having to pay for an expensive cab ride or navigating a foreign public transportation system just to get from the airport to your hotel can be a pain in the butt. However, once that’s done, you never think about it again. Meanwhile, the strong #12 seed One-ply toilet paper rubs you the wrong way for the length of your trip, meaning it’s an actual pain in your butt. It tears too soon as you’re tugging at the roll, it rips as you wipe and it shows the hotel’s blatant disregard for your behind.

Read more about these two tournament entrants below and then vote for the one that deserves to advance to the second round.

(5) No Airport Shuttle
Good news: you’re not in a city that requires you to have your own car! No need to worry about parking, gas or drinking. All you need to do is get yourself to the hotel, get settled in and turn that town inside out. So, you’ll just hop on the shuttle bus and be in that jacuzzi in no time, right? Yeah, about that bus. It doesn’t exist. You can take a cab, though. Or public transportation. The hotel is just two bus transfers, six lightrail stops and a four mile walk from the airport. Easy enough for someone who’s never been to this city. Also, public transportation stops at 11pm. Hope you have cab fare!

(12) One-Ply Toilet Paper
Travel wreaks havoc on your stomach. From the strange food to hours spent on airplanes, your GI tract just doesn’t fire on all cylinders when you’re away from home (or, if you’re really unlucky, it fires on a few extra cylinders). When the time comes to use the bathroom in your hotel, you’re already uncomfortable because you’ve lost your home toilet advantage. The last thing you need is toilet paper that you can see through. Amazingly, even the nicest “five star” hotels provide the cheapest, thinnest, one-ply toilet paper available. If you’re hotel doesn’t respect your butt then it doesn’t respect you.

Are you more upset by the lack of airport transportation or thin, useless toilet paper? Will we see a classic upset of a #12 over a #5? Vote now!


First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Pack toilet paper – Road trip tip

Campers know this rule, but road trippers should follow it, too: always bring a roll of toilet paper.

It’s good to have if you need to make an “emergency stop” if the next exit is too far away. It saves you problems at poorly stocked rest stops. Finally, it’s great for cleaning up those spills of giant sodas and coffees from a little road turbulence or heavy-duty laughter.