Being willing to use outhouse toilets means that you can camp in remote locations.
If you stay only in full service campgrounds, you'll probably never need to use an outhouse. But if you want to get off the beaten track, you'll quite likely find yourself with no other option.
If you are a seasoned camper, you have probably already experienced your share of outhouse toilets. You know that they range from the good to the bad to the ugly.
If you are a new camper, you may be feeling uneasy about using outhouse toilets. You may have even decided that you won't use them, ever!
The good news is that using outhouse toilets is really not a big deal. I'll tell you everything I know about outhouses so you won't have any surprises. Then you can decide if they might be an option for you.
Modern outhouses are designed to be easy to clean and almost odor-free.
Outhouses in established campgrounds are cleaned regularly, just like regular bathrooms.
Modern outhouses may be fully accessible.
Occasionally, you might find what looks like an outhouse - and discover that it contains a flush toilet! Enjoy the unexpected luxury, but don't count on finding those everywhere.
Outhouses range from the ordinary to the funky to the truly awful.
I won't discuss the truly awful ones. You probably won't encounter one of those in an established campground. If you do, find another campground, quickly!
I've encountered lots of outhouses in my travels. My favorite one has mosaic art on the walls, magazines in a basket beside the toilet, and a skylight in the ceiling. There's a sink with running water, and a recycled rearview mirror from a car. I like to visit this outhouse even when I don't need to use it!
I particularly like open air outhouses. Not only do they stay relatively odor-free, but they come with a view!
Check out this great outhouse!
Not only is it roofless, but it doesn't even have a door! Privacy is maintained by hanging up the "occupied" sign across the entryway.
I was apprehensive about using this outhouse at first - until I reminded myself that no one wanted to walk in on me any more than I wanted to be walked in on!
During my visit, I enjoyed watching lizards climb the walls. I liked the view of the sky, too. I wished I had brought my sunhat!
Here is the ultimate in open air outhouses. It has no roof, no door, and no walls!
I wish I had thought to take a photo from my place on this throne to share with you. You'll have to take my word for it that the view was inspiring.
Our kids went through a phase where they didn't want to use an outhouse. That's perfectly understandable. That gaping hole can be scary!
Don't force the issue. Wait until your children are older and are ready to give it a try.
In the meantime, have another plan. Bring along a portable camp toilet - or make your own. We took along our kids' potty seat from home and placed it on a basin lined with a plastic bag. Set under a tree, this made a comfortable and familiar toilet.
If you're able to step outside your comfort level and give outhouses a try, you'll open up a whole new range of camping options. And hey - you may even decide that you like using outhouse toilets! I do - as long as they meet my standards. Using an outhouse reminds me that I am really camping!
Do you have more questions about family camping? Click here to go to the Complete Family Camping Guide home page.