Trip Planning Tips: Where is the bathroom?!?

An outhouse: One bathroom option in the outdoors
Tara SchatzAn outhouse: One bathroom option in the outdoors

Using resources from the Outdoor Leader Handbook, you and your co-Leader planned an activity and posted it on outdoors.org. The trip is full and you know it’s going to be great!

The day of the trip arrives. You & your co-Leader meet the group at the designated spot. Before getting underway, you provide introductions, share the overall plan, and ask everyone to sign the liability waiver. Just before leaving the meeting area, someone asks, “Is there a bathroom [along the route, at the lunch spot, at the end of the day, etc.]?”

Uh-oh! How much time, did you as Leaders, spend thinking about this question and its potential impact on your participants?  


By keeping these tips in mind when you’re planning your next outdoor activity, you can prevent this from being an issue:

  • Audience: Does your audience have any specific needs?

For example, if leading a Family Outings activity, is a restroom facility easily accessible? By sharing this information in a trip description and at the start of the trip, you can ease concerns about what to do in the case of an emergency (i.e., a child saying “I need to use the bathroom NOW!”).

  • Accessibility: Can your group access the bathroom facilities? These may include outhouses, cat holes, traditional indoor, flush toilets or wag bags, to name a few.

Considerations: Are mobility issues a concern? Do the bathroom facilities have gender-neutral labels? Do people know what to do if there isn’t a bathroom and they have to poop or pee? What about menstruation?

  • Approachability: This may the most important tip for Leaders. If people feel like they can ask questions and discuss this topic with you, then it is one less barrier to being outside and exploring new places. What ideas do you have for easing people’s discomfort when talking about this fundamental function of our bodies?

For additional reading and resources, here is another great article from the AMC archive.

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Kristi Hobson Edmonston

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.