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Referring to this question got me thinking (and laughing). I've used squat toilets a few times when traveling (and younger), although I try to avoid them.

I grew up in the US using "normal" western toilets. Many years have passed since I last used one in Turkey, and I've been diagnosed with stage 4 arthritis in both knees (bone on bone). Kneeling down is incredibly painful without some sort of foam or something to kneel on, and squatting is all but out of the question. Well, squatting down isn't so much the problem, as getting back out of the squat afterward (I'm wincing just thinking about it).

We're headed for SE Asia in a couple of months for about a month and while I know all the places we usually stay will have western toilets (my wife's relatives), I also know I'll probably run into at least a couple of squat toilets to deal with especially if we go to Viet Nam as planned.

How do other folks with similar limitations deal with this?

  • Sorry about your illness, and hope you'd be better soon. It is one of the worst pains to have (a relative of mine has the same). – Ayesh K Apr 24 '15 at 9:15
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    Thanks for the sentiment, unfortunately there's not much to do about the knees, although there are things to make them more comfortable (injections of Supartz are amazing). Short of knee replacements (which my orthopedic surgeon has already told me is in my future), arthritis doesn't go away. – delliottg Apr 24 '15 at 14:12
  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/69241/… – Berwyn Jul 24 '16 at 5:11
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No need to squat... You can approach this challenge with the sort of gear one sees at the Glastonbury Festival...

enter image description here

This is a small, light-weight, aluminum frame with a canvas seat. The seat has a convenient hole in it. The whole ensemble fits comfortably in a backpack or medium sized shoulder bag. It's weight and compactness lends itself to discrete storage. You carry it in to the loo with you and deploy it in privacy.

It uses gravity, but there's a minor complication...

You can see that the leg joint 'obstructs' the passage of waste, and the waste will not reach the squat hole without making a mess. The work-around is to use a plastic bag for collection. The plastic bag goes between the seat and the leg joint.

While there are collection bags made expressly for this purpose, nothing prevents you from adapting a dog poop bag of the sort you see in Central Park...

enter image description here

When you have completed the job, you can tie off the poop bag and toss it down the squat hole.

The blue stool in the image sells for £16.00 in the UK. A roll of dog poop bags sells for under £4.00 and contains 20 - 30 depending upon the provider. That makes the all-in cost for this solution about £20.00.

If you want to level up to a "professional" solution, there are lots of purpose built gear you can get like this one...

enter image description here

This type of gear circumvents the awkwardness of squatting for those who are not accustomed to it. And the "seating arrangement" will be gentler to your arthritis. You can always use a cane to balance yourself while sitting down or standing up.

I am not putting links to the vendors because it's spammish and I don't know which providers are available to you anyway. I have no commercial relationship with any of the products shown here.

  • This is clever. Also, I don't think anyone will find a link Spammish. It's a perfectly valid reason to put relevant links in a relevant answer isn't it? – Ayesh K Apr 24 '15 at 9:16
  • I like this idea, and already have a similar stool (without the hole in the middle) that I plan on taking. Not sure how I'd be able to use it (as is) with a squat toilet. – delliottg Apr 24 '15 at 14:13
  • @delliottg, I don't think a 'generic stool' would work because there's no passageway. It pretty much needs to be a model like shown. – Gayot Fow Apr 24 '15 at 14:16
  • Oh, yes, I understand that, I just meant to comment that I had something similar (which I'd never intended to use as an ablutionary accessory). Thanks for your clarification. – delliottg Apr 24 '15 at 14:46
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    @delliottg, also... Tramadol can be your friend. Don't leave home without it :) – Gayot Fow Apr 24 '15 at 14:55
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I've very bad knees after a traffic accident some 20 years ago and have had to deal with it.
The answer is simple but not pleasant: finish as quickly as possible and hope it doesn't hurt too much.
If there's somewhere you can support yourself, it's a lot easier, whether a wall, door, or anything you can use.

Just be happy you're not a local with arthritis who has to go through it several times a day for the rest of his life...

As an avid photographer I almost always when on a trip carry a monopod (a single leg camera support). It collapses when not in use to a sturdy metal stick about half a meter long, with wrist strap. In emergencies I use it as a crutch or walking stick as well (don't expect it to survive as such for extended periods unless you've a really good one though, they're not designed to take the weight of a human being for any length of time). Disadvantage is that it's an expensive piece of kit that's not designed for the purpose and can take damage. Advantage of course is that it's easy at hand, nobody is going to question you having it with you if you're carrying a DSLR and some lenses, and it's easy to stash away in your camera bag or loop on your belt when not needed.

  • I'm contemplating a three-part walking staff (which I'll build myself). Screw the top & bottom pieces together (omitting the middle piece), and you have a cane. Add the middle piece & you have a sturdy staff. I could see where this would be useful for many reasons, including your suggestions, but I'm not sure how it would fly (literally). I think TSA allows canes on a plane, but I'll have to look into it. – delliottg Apr 24 '15 at 14:16
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I have had bi-lateral hip replacements and also have a bad back but have to use squat toilets in the school where I work in China. This is how you overcome the "getting up from the squat position" problem. Go to a hardware store or Ebay and buy a suction handle for lifting glass or other objects. Place the handle at a convenient height (ear level for me) and when you have finished your dump, use the handle to pull yourself up from the squatting position. Not so good for unpainted cement walls but usually ok for smooth walls. Otherwise only use the end cubicle where the electronic cistern is normally located. Use the flush downpipe to haul yourself up from the squatting position. Al

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A friend of mine had her knee in a plaster cast when in Taizé for a visit, three years running. No bending of the leg at all. In Taizé at the time they had very few sit down toilets and mostly squat ones. The sit down ones always had long lines and she did not want to walk long distance and wait (or be lucky to be let in ahead of the queue) so she tried and worked out how to use the squat ones.

She said, she would take the clothing out of the way, (shorts and undies left on the leg with the plaster), stand wide leg on the squat toilet and aim as good as possible.

The chinaware plateau with the steps would take care of most spills, water and a wash cloth took care of what landed on her.

Now you can also buy (in some countries at least) standing up pee helps for women. I have never used them, but it might be worth looking into them. This page calls them 'stand-to-pee-devices' although other names are given. It also has some historical options that might suit you better.

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    My wife uses a device called a Lady Jane so she can pee into the portable urinal we keep on our boat. – delliottg Apr 24 '15 at 16:12
  • The woman stand to pee devices are often sold in hiker trail supplies. (I bought two types after an incident but have not had to use them.) – arp May 17 '18 at 17:55

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