When we travel we share: snacks on a bus, clothing, and stories from our past.
But somehow, while traveling, we also share much more about our… um.. bathroom issues.
Coupled with strange new street food and endless hangovers, our stomachs are doing constant cartwheels. And since misery loves company, we love to share all our painful stomach aches with each other. In the western world, this candid talk is generally seen as a male trait, but in the traveler community, poop talk is for everyone.
Yes, I said it. POOP. Feces. Shit. Dung. Crap. Taking a deuce. Dropping a load. Pinching a loaf. Taking a dump. Dropping the kids off at the pool. These are words us females are not supposed to use, but says who?
As women, society expects us to be dainty, fragile, and complacent; but most times we’re anything but. Society would also prefer that we didn’t have disgusting bodily functions, but we do.
All over the world, men flaunt their gas and excretions, relishing the fact that there are gross and allowed to share. Sure, we shouldn’t be jealous or try to rival their gaseous pride, but we shouldn’t be ashamed of ourselves either. And in the solo female traveling community, we are arguably more open about our movements than most men from general society.
What is it about traveling that makes us want to socially talk about pooping? Is it a choice or is it that we’re all experiencing new problems simultaneously in conjunction with close quarters and that’s a deadly combination for candid bathroom talk? Back home, it’s never as open, discussed, or constant, particularly with females. But in nearly every hostel I’ve been to, it inevitably comes up in conversation. Not always right away but sometimes during dinner, sooner or later everyone wants to chime in with the current state of their stomach. And it gets worse.
Eventually everyone starts to share their best, “this one time I pooped my pants story.” I had no idea how often this phenomenon occurred, or how many people had multiple stories. Also, nobody got outrageously grossed out. There were shrieks of laughter and lots of “oh my God, that sucks”, but in a more pitiful sense as everyone accepts shitting their pants as a natural part of life, especially if you drink a lot.
It was on one morning hike with four other females that the grossest, most descriptive, and honest stories emerged, all while one of our hikers had diarrhea and made several stops along the way. Instead of being embarrassed or shy, we indulged her with our best stories to create a camaraderie of sorts.
I’m not sure how or why poop talk is so popular among travelers, particularly females. Is this the only place we feel safe to talk? Does misery love company? Or is it just that female travelers are more open to everything, including discussing their bowel movements?
As travelers, we embrace poop talk as part of our way of life of sharing and hopefully find community in illness. Try to bring your new found love of bathroom candidness back home but don’t expect to find such open and nonjudgmental listeners. They may just think you’re a shitty conversationalist.