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Bathroom Etiquette in the Outdoors


It’s our responsibility as parents to teach our tykes rules, etiquettes, manners and the do’s and dont’s of the outdoor world. We need to lead by example and our tykes will follow. This will help our tykes grow up appreciating the outdoors and be good stewards.

Bathroom etiquette on the trail is something we need to teach our tykes. How to go to the bathroom outdoors without any port-a-potty or outhouse, how to choose an appropriate spot and how to leave no trace.

We are trying to teach this to J-Man since he thinks he can drop his drawers wherever it’s convenient.


No Outhouse


Bathroom Etiquette in the Outdoors:


* How to go to the bathroom without a port-a-potty, outhouse or bathroom – I will leave the how to’s of this up to you. Boys and girls have totally different ways of going and you need to decide what fits your tyke best.

Make sure your tyke is wearing clothing  that doesn’t hinder their ability to pull down their bottoms. If they are wearing a backpack be sure it can be removed easily or that it doesn’t get in the way. It’s actually easier if your tyke removes the backpack. They can keep their balance better and they will be more comfortable.

* How to choose an appropriate spot – When going to the bathroom you don’t want to go on any traveled path, around an area for camping and near water. Stay 200 feet these areas.

Choose an area that is flat. If you stand on a hill it will be much harder to keep your balance.

Choose an area that doesn’t have a lot of ground cover. You don’t want grasses, twigs or plants tickling you and it will make digging a hole much easier.

* How to leave no trace – dig a cathole  6 to 8 inches deep.  Deposit your waste into it and then cover it up with dirt. Disguise it with rocks, twigs and ground debris. Make it look like you weren’t even there.

Make sure you pack out your toilet paper and any hygiene products. (Bring an extra plastic bag or baggy to carry it out in.)


Your tyke may ask why we have to take these steps when going to the bathroom outdoors.

The answer: We take these steps because animals and people don’t want to step in our waste, or smell it, or see it. We also cover it up so animals don’t think it’s a snack, it could make them sick. Finally, it’s unhealthy to keep it exposed. It’s filled with bacteria that can make us sick.


Proper bathroom etiquette in the outdoors is just one way we can help continue to protect our environment and enjoy the outdoors.



Have I missed anything?




  1. Our four year old has been having episodes in city parks where he has to go to the bathroom and I’m not exactly digging a hole in the middle of a playground or green space. Fortunately, I’ve started carrying two plastic bags and wipes with me everywhere I go! I take him somewhere away from other people in trees if I can find them, have him squat over a garbage bag and I catch the poo. Then I wrap it up with the wipes I use in the second garbage bag. Throw it all in a bin, and there is no trace, no mess, and nothing to clean up. No holes to dig either. We’ll be doing this while hiking this summer too. It works really well. You can also carry a large pull-up or diaper with you and use it for catching the poo. I’ve done this a couple times too.

    • Ha! Tanya I was just thinking about how something like that would have totally grossed me out pre-kid but now poop, barf, snot, (all 3 at once) whatever, no biggie. We pack out our dog’s poop in plastic bags, why not our kids poop too!

  2. Good tips. I agree it’s important to teach our kids early how to be responsible when nature calls while you’re out enjoying nature. We found that planning ahead with the kids helped by scheduling our outings around their normal potty intervals or going places where porta potties were available. I like Tanya’s suggestion though. Being prepared with plastic bags helps in an emergency.

  3. I was just thinking about our little man when we took a short break from hiking and in the middle of playing and stacking up some rocks, he asked me where to poopoo or where did I go to poopoo. It gave me the red flag that he was wanting to go potty so I told him to find a place away from the trail so we did. Told him to find some big flat rocks to cover up the trace to disguise it and asked me why we had to do it. Wipes and garbage/plastic bag sure helps. I always like to carry those diaper plastic bags that has a scent to it, which helps disguise odor. And hand sanitizer. 🙂


  1. […] 6: Know bathroom etiquette in the outdoors. Bring a trowel for those occasions when #2 occurs and pack out ALL toilet paper. […]

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