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5 November 2012 / leggypeggy

On toilet paper—always wise to carry your own


Every wall is a potential toilet, so warnings are common and often ignored. This sign is on the back wall of a hotel.

Even at its thinnest, perhaps especially at its thinnest, toilet paper is an unavoidable topic of conversation on an overland journey. Well, maybe not unavoidable, but certainly a matter of day-to-day concern.

Just yesterday there was a brief panic because our truck had RUN OUT of toilet paper. Now before any other overlanders faint dead-away from that comment, I have to assure you that this truck DOES NOT provide toilet paper. In fact, no overland company in its right mind would even fleetingly consider providing toilet paper.

Toilet paper is a personal thing. Quantities of toilet paper are a personal choice. I’m not going to confess how little toilet paper I can get by on, nor am I going to tattle on those who use two, three, four or even five times as much paper as I do to deal with a bit of wee.

So while an overland truck provides breakfast and dinner when passengers are camping (and sometimes lunch on long-drive days), it would never attempt to provide toilet paper for the masses.

This trip, our toilet paper supply actually comes from those masses. Early on, there was leftover money from some activity, and people used it to buy toilet paper—lots of toilet paper. Now it’s expected and a third purchase of the beloved paper was made today.

Poor John and I didn’t contribute to the first purchases—or if we did, we did so without realising—but we’ve happily anted up for the second two, for the bargain price of about 20 cents a person. There’s always a chance we’ll run out of our own supply.

And there’s the key—our own supply. In Africa and from London to Sydney, everyone had to buy their own TP (I feel I can use the abbreviation now that we’re on such familiar terms).

On those travels, the TP was often an industrial weight version in lurid hot pink, purple, blue or green. There were 20–50 sheets on a loosely-wound roll, and we went through it like mad even when we were being thrifty. When we stayed in hostel or hotels, most people would pinch a roll or two from their room or the shared toilets, but I would never take a roll—20 sheets, yes, but a whole roll, no.

Turkmenistan’s TP was a steely grey and like coarse sandpaper—my bum remembers it well and I saved a piece to show to disbelievers. I carry it in my camera case!

But the best TP was sold in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Poor John found it in a supermarket near our campground. He bought a pack of four. What made it so good? It was soft, thick (at least 2-ply) and rolled super, super tightly—plus there was no inner core, just sheets and sheets of paper.

The packaging claimed each roll was equal to four normal rolls. But I reckon it was more like one to eight. And through economical use and occasional acquisitions from a hostel, we made it last for seven months—almost until the end of the trip.

I’ve brought two rolls on this trip, and we’re still on the first. We’ve stayed in so many hostels, it’s been easy to keep the supply topped up, 20 sheets at a time. I’ll let you know if I have to buy more before we get to Rio at the end of the year.

P.S. I’m going to do a piece on toilets too. Stay tuned.


Leave a Comment
  1. Joanne T Ferguson / Nov 5 2012 12:24 pm

    G’day and always is interesting how worldwide the topic of toilets and toilet paper always seem to come up, TRUE!
    While we have encountered many funny, MacGyver scenarios, would have to say the Borneo rainforest and Egypt were “interesting” to name a few…
    Good on Poor John for finding yet another bargain re TP too! WHOO HOO!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 7 2012 9:56 am

      Thanks Joanne. I have lots of funny TP and toilet stories. Must share a few more. 🙂


  2. Potsie / Nov 5 2012 1:56 pm

    LOL., Your travel adventures always amaze me. My Dad was a toilet paper hoarder all of his life. He never wanted or required many luxuries but he loved soft TP

    Dad was a second generation immigrant and our family was very poor during the 40s and 50s. TP was like a cotton roll of gold. They anxiously awaited the annual Sears catalog and Yellow Pages phonebook and used discarded news paper not for the shopping opportunities but because they used it for toilet paper. LOL

    Things are better for my family, now. Butt… for some strange reason I appreciate every roll of TP.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 7 2012 9:54 am

      Potsie, what a great story. Thanks for sharing. My mother hoarded TP too. She bought 36 rolls at a time. I wonder if it was a result of the Depression?


      • Potsie / Nov 7 2012 11:30 am

        Please be sure and mail me a label to sign for your scrapbook when you get home. I want your heirs to wonder what the hell a “Potsie” is.


      • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2012 4:34 am

        You bet I will, sugar. But my heirs already know who/what a Potsie and they want to meet you too. 🙂


  3. texasflyer / Nov 7 2012 5:23 am

    Things I’ve Learned In 30+ Years Of Travel (re: Personal Hygiene):
    1) Blot, don’t wipe,
    2) Learn to squat,
    3) Learn to use a bum gun,
    4) Use anti-diarrhea medications as a preventive aid,
    5) In a pinch your guide book can be your best friend (Kindles excluded)


    • leggypeggy / Nov 7 2012 9:51 am

      Love your tips, texasflyer. I’ve always said you can do these trips if your knees hold out. And our drier in Africa used to go through the bookshelf for choice pieces of TP.


  4. Forestwoodfolkart / Dec 5 2015 5:15 pm

    I’m impressed with the Cameroon TP! I get frustrated by the endless waste of the ubiquitous empty toilet roll tubes! I think you should start importing it!


    • leggypeggy / Dec 5 2015 5:21 pm

      That Cameroon TP was the best I’ve ever seen. And I’d import it if I could remember the brand name. Guess I’ll have to go back and check.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Forestwoodfolkart / Dec 5 2015 5:26 pm

        Well, at least you have an excuse to return to Cameroon! 🙂


      • leggypeggy / Dec 5 2015 7:40 pm

        Oh don’t get me started. Ever since you posted your comment here, I’ve been thinking about doing a post on Cameroon.



  1. On toilets—some make your hair curl « Where to next?

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