Tips on taking road trips

I’m always ready to tackle the top issues weighing on everyone’s mind. Today I’d like to discuss restrooms on road trips.

Each person at one point or another has taken a road trip. There’s nothing better than turning on some music, turning on the radar detector, rolling down the windows and heading off to your destination.

One of the things that invariably comes up is the need to use the restroom at some point. So what really are your options?

The rest stop
The rest stop saw its heyday in the 70s and 80s as a cool place for families to get out and stretch their legs, use the restroom, and get a refreshing beverage or snack. There was plenty of green grass and a real calm feeling. Most of the rest stops now are a private/public partnership with scary surroundings, barred up vending machines, and the prospect of escaped child molesters waiting in the restroom. For me the rest stop has become really the last resort as far as emergencies go.

Creepy rating: High
Cleanliness rating: Low

The fast food restaurant
there are plenty of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and the like littered throughout the highways of America. While this option is certainly better than the rest stop – it still leaves plenty to be desired. Am I the only one that feels like I need to buy a hamburger or a drink for having use the facilities? Usually the fast food joint doesn’t have the cleanest of restrooms which certainly downgrades it in my ratings.

On another note – I wish America would follow the European model of restrooms in that there are self enclosed actual rooms instead of the flimsy metal support around the restrooms. Whoever invented the weird contraptions that we have become accustomed to now?

Creepy rating: Medium
Cleanliness rating: Low

The Truck pit stop
Where else can you get a tattoo, a potato log, take a shower, and renew your wedding vows all in one place? There certainly is variety in what you can purchase in regards to food and they basically have everything. However, the truck pit stop is usually spread out pretty far and the trucker aspect of it makes me a little leery.

Creepy rating: Medium
Cleanliness rating: Medium

The Holiday Inn
Think about it – you probably haven’t even considered this. The Holiday Inn lobbies are usually extremely nice. All the people staying at the Holiday Inn just go up to their room if they need to use the restroom. This leaves only the front desk staff that would use the lobby restroom. Therein lays the benefit because to their own self-interest they’re going to keep that thing immaculately clean. The only downside is you have to pretend like you’re staying at the hotel as you walk in the lobby. I’ve had lots of people ask if they can help me and I mutter something about forgetting my room key as I walk past them.

Creepy rating: Low
Cleanliness rating: High

I hope this advice will help make your next road trip a lot more enjoyable – till next time!


  1. In the past I’ve just gone into hotel lobbies and used the facilities. If asked I have no problem saying I’m just checking out the hotel in case I want to stay there in the future. I think being straightforward like that with them kind of disrupts their perceived need to get you out of the lobby.

  2. Don’t forget big box stores. Lowes, Walmart, etc often have clean restrooms with very low creepiness factors. I feel no need to make a purchase either, tho with kids in tow I’d be more likely to pick the Lowes than the Walmart.

    As for hotel, pick a big one with a lobby or even better, conference rooms. The front desk staff will never even see you coming and going.

    Don’t forget Starbucks and Panera and such. Low creepiness and good cleanliness.

  3. +1 for Starbucks. It has everything we need for a stop – clean (usually) restrooms, double shot of espresso, pastries & fruit.

  4. As a guy, I put up with a lot. As a scientist who’s worked with monkeys, rats, fish, and worms, I’ve seen much worse than a dirty restroom. If anything, I almost relish the opportunity to inoculate myself against new pathogens. 😉 I still wash my hands, of course. Most guys don’t.

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