The World Nomads Podcast: The Traveler's Curse

From the most embarrassing plane toilet story to angering the volcano Gods, being caught short is every traveler’s worst nightmare.


Photo © Getty Images/Eduardo Morcillo

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The World Nomads Podcast: the Traveler’s Curse

In this episode, we are exploring traveler’s diarrhea, also known as Bali Belly, Delhi Belly, The Pharaoh's Curse, Montezuma's Revenge or The Rangoon Runs. Whatever you call it, it’s no fun being caught short. Warning this podcast is not suitable for sensitive ears as it contains explicit language.

What’s in the episode?

01:02 Traveler’s diarrhea

02:18 Dr and author Jane Wilson-Howarth

04:06 How to avoid shitting yourself

08:10 The challenges of squatting

09:24 NOMADasaurus

12:00 Crapping on a volcano

19:00 Your stories of being caught short

20:25 Staying hydrated

27:25 Talking bowel movements with Jason

37:30 Kim’s confession

38:50 Starting further up the bowel

42:12 Kate likes to crap in scenic spots

44:34 Wrapping up

Quotes from the episode

"Peel it, boil it, cook it, or forget it." - Dr. Jane Wilson Howarth

"Ah, perfect. I'm going to go behind the boulder. It's just far enough away that no one will know what I've done, I hope." - Jarryd Salem

"... because it is so small, it makes it really difficult for most water treatment devices to remove virus from water, and so what you need is a purifier that specifically goes after virus." - Travis Merrigan

"I have a book out also which has nothing to do with shit, it's about autonomous cars, but you can read it while defecating. So buy they book, and then defecate for long periods of time while reading it." - Jason Torchinsky

Who is in the episode?

Dr and author Jane Wilson-Howarth discusses her bestseller ‘How to Shit Around the World: The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling’. In the book Dr. Wilson-Howarth explores “such issues as sanitizing unhealthy water, safely consuming exotic foods, avoiding dehydration, keeping good hygiene on the road, and immunization”.

How to avoid and treat traveler's diarrhea - READ NOW 
Learn more about the symptoms, treatment and most importantly, how to avoid it.

Jarryd Salem is one half of NOMADasaurus with his partner Alesha Bradford. They specialize in adventure travel, sustainable tourism, detailed travel guides, off the beaten path destinations, photography and creating a lifestyle around travel. Jarryd has many tales of being caught short. You can follow NOMADasaurus on Facebook.

Travis Merrigan is the co-founder of GRAYL alongside Nancie Weston. As travelers they are concerned about “global plastic pollution and the poor quality (health, taste, odor, clarity) of water that people around the world endure daily”. They launched GRAYL in 2012 changing the status quo by making practical and durable filtration and purification solutions.

Trial the Grayl Water Purifier Bottle 
Just invite five friends to join the World Nomads Podcast group on Facebook and you’re in with a chance to trial the bottles for us.

Kate Duthie is World Nomad’s Managing Editor. Some of her best travel moments include swimming with whale sharks and skiing in Vermont with not another skier in sight. In this episode Kate shares her tales of being caught short in some of the most scenic places in the world.

Jason Torchinsky is the senior editor of Jalopnik and shares his hilarious tales with us. From the most embarrassing plane pooping story ever to taking a dump Apollo style.

Jason is also the author of Robot, Take the Wheel: The Road to Autonomous Cars and the Lost Art of Driving (nothing to do with shitting but witty nonetheless). And his show Jason Drives is a YouTube sensation.

Phil lost it listening to Jason’s poop stories.
Too funny!

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

How to Avoid and Treat Traveler's Diarrhea, Phil’s tips.

Find out more about the GEOPRESS purifier by GRAYL.

Join our Facebook Group - follow this link 
Join us over on Facebook where you can look behind the scenes, get news on upcoming episodes, and join the conversation about the show, your travels and people you'd like us to interview.

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Next Episode: Joel Carteret.

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode

Announcer: Welcome to the World Nomads podcast. Delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous independent traveler.

Kim Napier: And this is a very adventurous episode. Thanks for tuning in. Kim and Phil with you, exploring every traveler's nightmare. But before we do, Phil, we really should play this.

Announcer: Warning. This episode of the World Nomads podcast has explicit content, not suitable for sensitive ears.

Kim Napier: And we're not joking, right?

Phil Sylvester: Yeah.

Kim Napier: So if you want to cut out now, because there's plenty of stuff ...

Phil Sylvester: There's some language.

Kim Napier: Yes.

Phil Sylvester: And it gets a bit squeamish.

Kim Napier: Okay, so those that don't want to listen, go now. Those of you that are still with us, this episode, we are exploring crapping yourself while traveling. Also known as Bali belly deli belly, the pharaoh's curse, Montezuma's revenge, the Rangoon runs, and feel free to add your own to the list.

Phil Sylvester: And while we'll have a few laughs in this episode as we hear tales of being caught short, traveler's diarrhea can readily affect your experiences. It's true, it's one of the most common things that people put down a claim for. They say they've got stomach flu, or gastro or something, but it's traveler's diarrhea. Causes abdominal pain, cramping, that horrible bloated feeling, continually needing to use the bathroom, nausea, loose, watery stools, fatigue, slight fever, and of course dehydration. That's the thing that really gets you, when you get a case of the shits, what's dangerous is that you're going to be dehydrated, and of course, you can't keep water down, and ...

Kim Napier: Yep, not good.

Phil Sylvester: Terrible.

Kim Napier: And I'm sorry I laughed, but this is an unusual episode. As you mentioned, we will hear some funny stories including a couple of rippers from Jason.

Jason T.: And you're sitting there, your head is there, this poor guy just repeating, like, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." As he's just ejecting foul, foul things out his asshole. It's tragic.

Kim Napier: He's such a great storyteller. And we'll look at a product that filters dirty water. But let's start with doctor and author, Jane Wilson-Howarth. This title happens to be her bestseller, How to Shit Around the World: The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling.

Jane W.H.: I went a bit evangelistic because I thought, well, this is unnecessary, this suffering is unnecessary. Why not try and get the information out there so that people can enjoy their travels without having to think about clenching their buttocks or crossing their legs or whatever.

Kim Napier: But you do get people, and we're going to hear from them in this episode, that despite being exceptionally careful with their food, and their hygiene, and the water that they drink. If you've got to go, you've got to go.

Jane W.H.: Well, yes. I think you can prevent excessive episodes of diarrhea. So some people keep on making the same mistakes and keep on getting diarrhea, so that's one thing. But yeah, you're right. One of the things that a lot of people don't know about is a thing called the gastrocolic reflex. It's the reason you do your early morning poo after your cup of tea or coffee. So stuff that's sitting in your rectum, wanting to come out, as soon as you have your hot cuppa, about 10, 15 minutes later, you're on the throne. And I think when you've got diarrhea, that reflex is increased. So if you have a hot drink or an ice-cold drink, you get this reflex bowel action. So one of the things that people think is that they drink something, and then they want to go for a shit. And the world pours out of their bottom, but actually, if they drink lukewarm drinks, you can actually resist that urge to open your bowels, which may end up leaving you soiling yourself if you are just in the wrong place.

Kim Napier: Obviously, we advise anyone that's traveling to check with their GP before they do so. But what are some of the simple things that you can do to avoid crapping yourself or shitting yourself around the world?

Jane W.H.: Well, the first thing is, if you feel your guts are dodgy, then just don't have very hot or ice-cold drinks, because that'll just speed everything up. There's this mantra, "Peel it, boil it, cook it, or forget it." So you should try and avoid ... And in the UK, we've got this thing, you've got to eat five pieces of fresh fruit or fresh veg a day. You have to forget that when you're traveling if you're traveling in places where there's a lot of diarrhea. So things you can peel yourself is okay, but things that have handled by others ... So the last time I got a dodgy stomach which was only last week in Katmandu, I ate a freshly roasted sweetcorn on hot coals. And the lovely lady who was serving me, she wanted to dust all the charcoal and dust off the sweetcorn, and she was doing that with her hands. Consequently, a couple of days later, my guts we a bit runny.

Jane W.H.: Fortunately, I've spent so long in Nepal now, that I should cross my fingers when I say this, but I don't generally get really, really sick. I just get sort of slightly dodgy guts for a while and feel a bit queasy, but I don't get really badly ill. But that clearly was something that had been handled before it went into my mouth, so her slightly shitty fingers from washing her bottom after she'd had a shit, transferred onto my sweetcorn, which got into me, which made me sick. So it's things that have been handled by other people, so cold pies and things like that. Salads especially. Lettuce are fairly disastrous because they grow at ground level and people sometimes shit on the ground, and then the lettuce, when it rains, the poo gets splashed up onto lettuce leaves.

Kim Napier: So anything that's grown at ground level can be potentially hazardous to our tummies.

Jane W.H.: Exactly. And especially if it's difficult to peel. So something like a strawberry, where you can't really get a sort of ... yeah, get the skin off successfully. You can't wash it because it's got lots of little crevices.

Kim Napier: It can actually be quite dangerous.

Jane W.H.: Yes. People die of profuse diarrhea and dysentery. Absolutely. And so it isn't funny at all, and it's painful, you get a sore bottom, you've got a bellyache, you sometimes are throwing so much that you could end up puking blood. It's horrible. It's not funny at all really, but we all like to laugh about it, and in retrospect, we all love telling our toilet tales when we get home to nice, comfortable thrones and flush toilets.

Kim Napier: Not to mention the fact that it compromises your traveling or your experience.

Jane W.H.: Yes, yes, exactly.

Kim Napier: Is there a particular bottle that you suggest with a filter in it, or ... We have to stay hydrated and particularly in summer ... well, not particularly, we have to stay hydrated.

Jane W.H.: Yes, exactly. And some people do get themselves into trouble by being worried about drinking enough, and they get dehydration headaches and feel bloody awful. So yes, hydration is really, really important. I personally think that most people worry too much about water quality. If you go in to a restaurant, you can ask for a hot drink. Tinned soups are really good for hydrating. I've tried to avoid buying bottled water because of the environmental catastrophe that is all these plastic solid waste disposal problems, which are huge throughout the world now, as you know. So I tend to travel with one or two water bottles, and I either get someone to give me some boiling water into them, or with some iodine drops, or some chlorine tablet so that I can top up if I need to.

Kim Napier: Now despite your knowledge and being a doctor, have you got a good shit story?

Jane W.H.: Not a brilliant one. I just think as I'm getting older, I'm finding it much more difficult to hover. So I think I've had more problems going out in the middle of the night without a torch, going to a long drop, and thinking, oh bugger, I should've brought my torch. And sort of groping around in the dark thinking, where is the hole, and what is on the wall? So last time I was up in the hills, the toilet I was using had an enormous, giant crab spider lurking in the corner, big guys that they don't kill you, but they leave a nasty wound for some weeks afterwards. And I was groping around, thinking, can I squat? Can I hover with my poor old knackered knees complaining? I'm then starting to imagine, might there be a snake in here? So if you get to a certain age, it's worth doing some work on quadriceps strength, doing some skiing exercise before you go needing to hover over a long drop.

Kim Napier: A good tip that one, thanks, Jane. Now Jarryd is one half of NOMADasaurus with his partner, Alesha, who hasn't shat her pants by the way, or anywhere else other than a toilet for that matter. But not so, Jarryd.

Jarryd Salem: Yeah. I've been lucky enough to defecate in quite a few different places. I'm not sure if lucky is the right word, but yeah, there's Guatemala, and China, and Thailand, and Australia as well, probably in Canada, probably in a few more places that aren't coming to my head at the moment.

Kim Napier: I can't work it out, why I'm like it, but I do it every single place I ever visit. And you're similar to me. When you get that urge, it's now, and you can't move because you break the seal.

Jarryd Salem: No, exactly. I call it, your stomach drops. It's just that sensation where everything is cool, you're having a great time, you're out hiking, or you're chilling out, or you're on a bus or whatever. And then all of a sudden, your stomach turns, and you're like, "I have 10 seconds to find myself a bathroom or it's going to get really messy in here." And yeah, that's how it's always happened to me. It hasn't been a long kind of buildup where it's like, it's going to happen, it's going to happen. It's being instantaneous, almost.

Kim Napier: Yeah, it's tough to deal with that one.

Phil Sylvester: Do you prepare for this? Do you go to the gym and do gluteus exercises so you can jam it shut tighter?

Jarryd Salem: No, but I should now, that's a great idea. I'm going to hit my trainer up about that. "Yeah, what are you trying to achieve with your fitness regime?"

Phil Sylvester: "A really tight seal."

Jarryd Salem: Yeah. I just want to really stop crapping myself.

Kim Napier: Tell us some of the stories then.

Jarryd Salem: Okay. So I've got a few, I guess, and I think the one that first comes to me is back in Guatemala, and this is where my shit stories started. So we were hiking up in a volcano near Xela, I believe. Quetzaltenango which is a really cool city in Guatemala, and we were doing an overnight camping trip up this volcano. And there's a couple there, so I can't remember the exact name of the volcano, sorry. But anyway, it's an overnight experience. You hike up this volcano, you camp right next to the crater. It's active, there's lava spewing out, and smoke. It's quite dramatic and you camp there the night. Next morning, you wake up, you watch the sunrise from the volcano, and then you go back down, and everyone's happy, and it's been a wonderful experience that you probably don't really talk about again because nothing really exciting happened.

Jarryd Salem: Unless you're me, and then you hike up there, and you have dinner with the whole group, and it's a great time, and the sun goes down. It gets really cold really quick because you're at 3,000 meters or something, and time to go to bed. So you put on all your clothes, put on everything you own. You crawl into a sleeping bag, you zip yourself up nice and tight, and you go to bed. Then about 2:00 in the morning, I woke up. Stomach had just dropped. And I'm lying there, and I'm like, "Oh no. I'm going to shit myself." And I lean over to Alesha, I wake Alesha up, and she looks at me, and I've got these ... even though it's dark, she can see my eyes are just glowing. And I'm like, "I need a bathroom." She's like, "We're on a volcano. There's no bathroom."

Jarryd Salem: So anyway, I kind of flop around like a beluga whale trying to get out of my sleeping bag, and then unzip the tent, and I run outside, and I'm looking around, shuffling around. And I see this big boulder. I'm like, "Ah, perfect. I'm going to go behind the boulder. It's just far enough away that no one will know what I've done, I hope." So I get back there, and I do my business, and I took some toilet paper with me. I didn't have enough time to think ahead so I dig a little hole, and do my thing, and put it away, and realize that I've just done a horrible job. I couldn't do it, and it's too hard to kick. And so there's stuff everywhere, and I'm like, "Oh well. Whatever. It'll rain at some point up here. It'll get washed away. I'm sorry, volcano gods, I didn't mean it." But I feel much better. So I'm going back to bed.

Jarryd Salem: Anyway, so we wake up at 5:00 in the morning to get up for sunrise, and we all congregate, and in the middle of the tent city that we've built. And the guide's like, "Okay guys. So we're going to hike up a little bit further, and we're going to go to the spot for sunrise. All you got to is you just go up behind this boulder and just, you'll find the track." And I had managed to go all over the middle of the track up to the top of the volcano.

Phil Sylvester: Did you fess up?

Jarryd Salem: Hell no. I didn't fess up, until now. There's probably people still, people tuning in now are going like, "That guy? I remember that."

Kim Napier: How was the reaction?

Jarryd Salem: Oh, people were disgusted. Like, "What the?" Toilet paper flapping, I feel really bad about it now, but I didn't have time to think and ...

Kim Napier: That is an absolute classic, that's a good one.  All right, monastery,

Jarryd Salem: All right. So I think this is my second favorite shit story. So we were in the border of China and Tibet, and we were hitchhiking along there, and we ended up in this little town called [Ganza 00:15:38]. And we heard that there was a monastery just outside of town, that you go there and the monk there is super friendly. He lets you camp in his monastery. And we were traveling with a tent at the time, and we were like, "Oh, this would be a fun experience. Get out of the town that we're in, and go have this cool, cultural, authentic experience." So we hitched out there. So anyway, we go and we explore around the monastery, and we get back, and the monk invites us into his home, and he cooks us dinner. And it's this amazing experience, and we were feeling really thankful that we were in this position. And so anyway, he's ...

Phil Sylvester: I'm thinking we're going to hear how you repaid this.

Kim Napier: [crosstalk 00:16:14].

Jarryd Salem: Yeah, there was a donation box and yeah, and so we, yeah, having this really cool experience. And the monk kind of was like, he's shivering and he's like, "It's going to be cold tonight. You can stay in here. I'll set up a bed for you." We're like, "No, no. We've got our tent. Thank you. You've done enough for us." And again, 1:00, 2:00 in the morning. Wake up. Instant stomach cramps. And I'm like, "Oh no. It's happening again." And I look at Alesha and I shake her, and she wakes up and she looks at me, and she's like, "What?" I'm like, "I'm going to shit myself." And she stares at me for about two or three seconds, and she's like, "Well not in here, you're not." And she starts pushing me towards the door of the tent.

Jarryd Salem: And I'm completely zipped up again because it is cold, it's March in Tibet, it's freezing. So I quickly tried to unzip my sleeping bag, and I'm wearing five layers. Oh no, this is going to be horrible. So I'm flopping around again and manage to unzip the tent a little bit, just a little bit. I'm like, "That's enough, I can get out." And I flop out and go face-first into the ground, into snow. It was snowing. So the monk was right, it was going to be a cold night, it snowed overnight. And so I face-first into the snow. So I'm looking around, looking around, and there's a tree. Probably a sacred tree. I'm sure it is. And again, I feel really bad now. Karma is going to come back and get me at some point.

Jarryd Salem: Anyway, I managed to drop the sleeping bag, get away from the tent and get to the tree. And I do my business. But at that point, it had already started coming. And it was down my leg, and all in my favorite fisherman pants I got from Thailand or something, and I was a mess. So now I'm standing out here, I'm squatting beneath this tree, and it's snowing, and I've got crap down my leg, and there's crap on the tree, and there's crap everywhere and I didn't know what to do. So I got nothing to clean myself up with. So I just take the pants off and start cleaning myself, and so I'm trying to mop up mess that I left in this beautiful, banyan tree or whatever it was. And I'm like, "Well, I don't know what I'm going to do." So I gather it all up, and I kind of put it aside. I'm like, "Okay. I'm going to get up in the morning when there's a bit of light, and I'm going to find somewhere to ditch in."

Jarryd Salem: So yeah, woke up in the morning, gathered my stuff. The tree, it was just a mess, and the snow obviously didn't help with the contrast. I kicked a bit of snow around and cleaned up what I could, and went and ditched in the ... I found an incinerator. Went and threw my pants in there, went and thanked the monk, and he came and got a selfie with us. And it's this nice photo of us with the monk, and behind there's just this absolutely filthy tree. And I'm sure he found out later. And yeah, I don't think they welcome foreigners there anymore.

Kim Napier: Absolute classic. More stories like that form Jarryd and not so much Alesha, as we said on their site, which we will share in show notes.

Phil Sylvester: Look, we asked for some of your caught short stories on our Facebook group, the World Nomads podcast. And please do join in and join in this conversation as well. And we got some of these replies. Millie said, "Well there was that one time I forgot to take toilet paper into a loo in Lumbini, Nepal. Or when I dropped the toilet paper roll into the squat toilet while hiking to Annapurna base camp." There's nowhere where you can get a spare roll.

Phil Sylvester: Matt's reply was "QF587 from Adelaide to Perth. Dodgy Chinese food plus seatbelt sign illuminated equals big uh oh. My friends love this story," he says. "Qantas moved me to business and the pilot gave me his spare pair of jeans. Harrowing at the time, but hilarious now."

Kim Napier: [Tild] said, "Gastro. Flight to Bangkok. I shat six times before boarding." Got on the plane, felt sweaty, the seatbelt sign went on for pushback. Had to crank the air-con. His wife told him to relax, his undies were in hand luggage. Took off, ran and sprayed the bowl. Never again.

Kim Napier: Annual leave, Vanuatu, 2013. On the way to go snorkeling, could not control myself. At least no people around, but a massive coconut crab was close to my ass. Never ran this fast in my life. Great stories.

Phil Sylvester: As we mentioned, traveler's diarrhea is no laughing matter, and dehydration is one of the biggest issues. But how do you stay hydrated or drink water in places where the water is full of impurities? Travis is from GRAYL, and he explains how you get sick, but also tells us about the GEOPRESS Purifier.

Travis: Yeah, it's really taking it into your own hands. There are definitely places in the developing world where tap water is fine, and certain fines might be, but you just never know. And if you're like most people, you travel and there's precious time, and it's relatively limited, a few weeks or a few months, then if you're several days or even longer sick. Just you want to really be careful with particularly the water. And the reason why is you put so much water in your body than any other possible substance.

Travis: So where your body can handle a little bit of any of these impurities that we're talking about. You think about when you go swimming, you get a little water on your lips or in your mouth, you eat chips when you come out of the water. You don't get sick from that because your body has some defenses. But if you're going to put a liter of water with cryptosporidium or hepatitis A in it, you're definitely going to get sick because it just overpowers the systems that would otherwise protect you.

Phil Sylvester: And obviously, you make water purifiers as a company, so you can remove all of those sorts of things from the purifiers?

Travis: GRAYL removes the whole breadth of impurities. Three little bugs that make you sick. Bacteria, protozoa, and virus. So the first two, bacteria and protozoa are fairly similar, they're a bunch of single-cell little bugs that float around in water. And what they have in common is that their size is relatively large. They're a whole cell, and so they're on an order of magnitude that you could see with a relatively low-powered microscope. Virus is really different, because virus is so much smaller, and virus is not a living cell. So I've heard scientists make analogies between bacteria and protozoa, which are living organisms. They can live all by themselves. Like your iPhone can. And a virus, which cannot. It is not a living organism. It's more like a computer program that gets inside of your iPhone, that functions as part of your iPhone. The virus will intra-cell hijack the protein-making processes within the cell, and reproduce itself, then explode out of that cell and go infect a ton more of your body's cells. And that's how it makes you sick.

Travis: And because it is so small, it makes it really difficult for most water treatment devices to remove virus from water, and so what you need is a purifier that specifically goes after virus. Another key component is where in the world you need ... is a regular filter okay, and where do you need a virus-capable purifier? Viruses are endemic primarily in the developing world. Bacteria, protozoa, these are single-cell organisms, they live all over, they infect all kinds of different animals. E. Coli can make your dog sick just like it can make a human sick. But virus is different because virus is really human-specific. A virus that infects a human will not infect a dog, will not infect a cat, probably won't even infect a chimpanzee.

Travis: So these are really, really, specific and so the only that the viruses propagate in water is if they come from untreated sewers. Virtually anywhere, we've got a map on our website, virtually anywhere in the developing world, virus is going to be a problem. You're looking at hepatitis A, hepatitis E, rotavirus kills hundreds of thousands of children under five every year, norovirus. And these are real problems, and to get these out of the water, again, you need to make whatever system you invest in, it does bacteria, protozoa, and virus. Very important for international travelers to know.

Phil Sylvester: I know local to me, basically in our region, if you go to Fiji, it's a fantastic experience to get away from the resorts and go up into the local villages, and there's some pretty amazing sort of experiences. There's a lot of white water rafting and what have you. But this is a country as well that gets hit by hurricanes, and lots and lots of rain, and flooding. And of course all these local villages, they've all got ... they're using well water. And then they try and keep human waste separate, but then everything floods and it all kind of mixes up together, and they occasionally have outbreaks of typhoid.

Travis: Yeah, no it's ... and we shouldn't be so cocky. My city, Seattle, Washington, one of the richest cities in America just had a huge problem with one of their main sewer plants and it dumped, I don't know, 30,000,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Puget Sound. So it can happen anywhere, in any natural disaster, and your hometown is going to have a problem. But it's particularly a problem in these very low-income countries, but they do the best they can, but they just can't treat all the water, they just can't treat all the sewer. It's a real, real problem. But for the traveler, what you can do if ... an ecologically aware traveler wants to reduce single-use plastics, leave as small of an impact as they can, and so now there's starting to be devices out there, including GRAYL, but there are some other ones too that really can make your water safe and should be considered by all travelers as a necessity when you're traveling abroad.

Phil Sylvester: You believe in travel the way that we do as well, which is great.

Travis: Yeah, absolutely. Part of what GRAYL does is fund expeditions ostensibly to go out and get photography and video, which they do, but also just because we like to travel. In the past two or three years, we've been to Vietnam, Columbia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Kilimanjaro. One of our partners, Breanna J Wilson, self-proclaimed travel badass, is in Mongolia right now. Yeah, so just all over the world. What we set out to do when we founded the company was support travelers like ourselves. Keep folks safe, make them self-sufficient, give them the ability to travel creating less waste. And so that they can really go into places where mostly their friends would be scared to go, and go have really authentic experiences, and then hopefully come back different people. More enlightened. More aware. More humble about just how different the world is and how similar people are all over the world. And just have those golden experiences. And to do, you got to stay safe, so-

Phil Sylvester: It's an interesting point that you make there. A lot of people are scared to go to places where they can push their boundaries a little bit because they're scared of getting sick, aren't they?

Travis: Yeah. Absolutely. I think people go to Paris and New York and whatever, these wonderful places, great. Health is a big one and you can't drink the water, everybody knows that. So what are we going to do? That can't possibly be safe for people like us, so let's just go to Disneyland. And with a little bit of knowledge, then you can go have amazing experiences that folks at Disneyland will never be able to understand.

Phil Sylvester: We will let you know in show notes, I think we've got a couple of days to give away. We haven't quite worked out how we're going to do that, but check in show notes and we'll sort it out later.

Kim Napier: We'll sort ourselves out.

Phil Sylvester: Yeah.

Kim Napier: Now, Phil, Jason Torchinsky is the senior editor of Jalopnik.

Phil Sylvester: Yes.

Kim Napier: Now it's a news and opinion website covering topics with, and I'm quoting here, "An honesty, transparency, and cheerful belligerence that can't be found anywhere else," expect for this podcast.

Phil Sylvester: He sounds like my kind of person.

Kim Napier: Yeah. Jason loves a good shit story and was up for a chat about his own tales and those that he's written about. Thanks for joining us.

Jason T.: Thanks for having me. I'm very excited to be here to talk about bowel movements.

Kim Napier: It was interesting emailing back and forth. You do realize that that wasn't my shit story, I wrote that shit story, but this is my shit story.

Jason T.: Yeah. I'm pleased that I had a backup shit story to give you after I had revealed the other one was someone else's shit story.

Kim Napier: Yeah. But let's get it because it relates to some sort of weird privacy screen in a plane.

Jason T.: Yes. Oh God, yes. Okay. So I wrote this a few years back, and it was a story I had found about and he felt it was important to share with the world because it represents a certain level of willful cruelty, I have to believe, on the designers of certain kinds of airplane bathrooms. There's no other justification for why this should happen. For some context, it's basically the story of a guy on a little private jet, and he's there for a business meeting that he just did. It's very important and there are competitors there, and then there's this CFO of a company that they're all trying to impress, it's a woman. And something goes deeply wrong intestinally, just violent, violent volcanic shit. And the only bathroom on this plane is inside the cushion of one of the seats. It's too small a plane to have its own little bathroom, so you basically lift the cushion off the seat, and he describes, apparently, it's a lovely mahogany wood toilet seat. Lovely. And there's a privacy screen that pulls up from the bottom and apparently just hits shoulder level.

Phil Sylvester: So everybody can see your facial expressions.

Jason T.: And the context of this. It's a cramped space, there's someone sitting literally right next to you like they would be on an airplane. Because it's just a regular airplane seat, so there are people in front of you and behind you. Or maybe it's in the back row, but there are people in front of you and basically someone right next to you. And you're sitting there with just a drape up to your shoulder violently blasting out things from your ass, just horrible sounds, and splatters, and bellowing booms, it's just ... And you're sitting there, your head is there. This poor guy just repeating, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," as he's just ejecting foul, foul things out his asshole. It's tragic.

Kim Napier: You can't. I just ... that's impossible to believe.

Phil Sylvester: But whilst you ... I'm just like, would you contort your face, or would you try to look normal? What would you do?

Kim Napier: How could you?

Jason T.: Honestly, what they should've provided is they should've had a privacy screen and then a silken bad to pull over your face.

Kim Napier: That you didn't take off.

Jason T.: Just so you can pretend nobody is watching you shit your guts out right next to them.

Kim Napier: Not to mention how it must smell.

Jason T.: Oh yeah. In a tiny plane too.

Kim Napier: Oh, that's just such a good ...

Jason T.: It just sounds miserable. And he's sweating and it's one of these, the way he describes it, this is not just a pleasant, firm column of ejecta that just coils elegantly out your ass, this is a violent bursting of a firework of feces. It just sounds, it sounds so ... I feel so bad for this guy.

Phil Sylvester: Absolutely.

Jason T.: Four years ago.

Phil Sylvester: Absolutely destroys the mahogany toilet seat.

Jason T.: Yeah.

Kim Napier: I think I'd rather just do it in my pants, seriously. Speaking of which, as I said when I introduced you, we were toing and froing to set this chat up, and you said, "I've got my own shit story." So do tell us about that.

Jason T.: Okay. So this one is sort of topical because this year, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings and one of the things everybody always would ask the astronauts is basically, how do you go to the bathroom in space? And the truth is, it's really crude. In the Apollo ... in the capsule we took to the moon, didn't really have its own bathroom. Honestly, there wasn't time to develop all that stuff, we're too busy figuring out how the hell we get to the moon. So they reused the system that they used in the Gemini flights before the Apollo flights, and that system was a plastic bag that gets stuck to your ass, and that's it. So just picture ... a similar scene is in the Apollo capsule. The inside of it was about the size of a van. There's three guys there, and at any given point, one of those guys could be floating around because remember, no gravity, with a bag stuck to their ass, filling it full of shit, and the other guys trying not to notice.

Jason T.: And then, oh it gets worse because the bag had these little indentations for your fingers because ... okay, two reasons. One, in zero gravity, the shit doesn't just fall out of your ass, you have to maybe sometimes actually tow it away because it's just floating, and then they had these antibacterial pellets they had to put in the bag, and then mush it up with their hands, to just moving. So we all agree this sounds miserable.

Phil Sylvester: Yeah.

Jason T.: But I decided I need to take it a step further. I've read this before, but I felt like empirically, I couldn't really comment on it unless I knew more about what it's like. So I reverse-engineered the Apollo fecal bag. I got a gallon Ziploc bag and I made a similar upper frame that they had, and I made it adhesive, I used double-sided adhesive stuff. And I followed the instructions that NASA themselves published, I stuck it on my ass, and then I went into my shower because that seemed to be the smartest place to do this, and I filled it full of hot, disgusting waste. There was no zero gravity, I couldn't really figure out a way to simulate that, but I kind of crouched in the ...

Phil Sylvester: You know what you could've done is just jump into the air and as you sort of get to the top of the arc ...

Jason T.: Well, I don't know if I could have because just letting yourself ... after years of being toilet trained, I'm not bragging, I am a little, but after years of being toilet trained, it's hard to just let yourself shit in a context not on a toilet. I don't think I could've jumped and let myself shit. It was hard enough just standing there going, it's okay to shit, I have a plastic bag stuck to my ass, it must be all right to shit. But it took a while to work up enough, get past all the training and it was weird. And then, so I did this, and the thing I learned that apparently is ... I've never seen mentioned in any of the histories of the Apollo missions or anything, and they must have done this. But when you're removing a roughly bagel shaped adhesive area from your ass and into perineum area, it fucking hurts because there's hair there if you're male. I basically gave myself a donut-shaped Brazilian as I yanked this thing off and it hurt like hell. That skin is not used to ... it was ...

Kim Napier: It's sensitive. It's a sensitive area isn't it, Jason?

Jason T.: What's that?

Kim Napier: It's a sensitive area.

Jason T.: It is a sensitive area. Yeah, because there's lower scrotal zones in there and it's an area that in general in my life, I count myself lucky, it doesn't take that much abuse, so ...

Phil Sylvester: Donut shaped Brazilian.

Kim Napier: Question.

Jason T.: And there's pleasant about the process. Landing on the moon was an amazing thing humans did, but the way we shat to get there was not.

Kim Napier: For both the astronauts and yourself, what about the wiping?

Jason T.: Well, the wiping I think was pretty conventional. I think they had little wet wipe things to take care of that. Oh, and I did make myself mush up the poop through a bag, just to keep it [crosstalk] like. Yet, it's terrible. It's not like it hurts, but it's disgusting. Nobody wants to do that.

Phil Sylvester: At least they could've given them ... were they transparent bags? Surely they were opaque, right?

Jason T.: No, they were transparent bags.

Kim Napier: That's just rude.

Jason T.: Yeah. So my bag was transparent also, and I promised my editor there would be no photographs in the article, but I knew people were going to try to say I didn't really do it, so I actually do have a couple photos of the ah, leaving that I haven't published. But if anybody really challenges me, I'm ready with proof.

Kim Napier: Oh please, give us one for show notes. It'd be ...

Phil Sylvester: Oh no.

Kim Napier: Jason, I knew just reading your articles, you would be a great chat. You've made us cry, you've made us laugh.

Phil Sylvester: I'm snorting.

Kim Napier: Phil's snorting.

Jason T.: I'm glad. It's hard to get people to let me talk about this, so this has a treat.

Kim Napier: We will have a link to you in show notes along with Jalopnik. And look, fabulous. Just fabulous.

Jason T.: I have a book out also which has nothing to do with shit, it's about autonomous cars, but you can read it while defecating. So buy they book, and then defecate for long periods of time while reading it.

Kim Napier: I'm snorting too.

Phil Sylvester: Oh god.

Kim Napier: Mate, thank you so much. That was ...

Jason T.: Thanks for having me.

Kim Napier: Oh he is-

Phil Sylvester: On a plane.

Kim Napier: He is an absolute classic, isn't he? Look, confession. I'm a shitter.I've done it many, many places. Many, many stories. I'll give you two very quick ones before we hear from Kate. One of them in pristine waters off in an island off Japan, Ishigaki, part of the Okinawa Prefecture.

Phil Sylvester: Pristine.

Kim Napier: Pristine.

Phil Sylvester: Yes. Not anymore, I gather.

Kim Napier: No. In the water, needed to go. So I just sort of slipped my bathers across. I did it into the current, so it's all this stuff. I'm thinking, what have I dug up here, and oh, it was the contents of my bowels. Dare I ... Phil, you're loving that, aren't you? Still in Japan, because this is hysterical, I basically pooped my way around Tokyo. But the best crap I had was in Takeshita Street. True story, true story. And of course, it doesn't mean take a shit, it means something to do with bamboo swaying in the breeze. Now I can't beat though, this woman, Kate. Are we happy to say that you worked for World Nomads, Kate?

Kate: Well, you've said it now.

Kim Napier: You have so many shit stories. We just had to get you on this episode so you can share a few.

Kate: Yes, it's an anthology of shit stories. Although you just talked about farting, I have actually got a good farting story where I-

Phil Sylvester: Let's ease into it with a bit of farting then.

Kate: Let's start further up the bowel. So I was on a plane flying back from Turkey after two weeks of a heavy fresh tomato and feta cheese diet. And my husband and I always used to grade our farts. So a small fart is a MINI Cooper if you will, going to what we like to refer to as the Queen's coronation carriage of fart. I did the smallest, smallest fart, and the woman next to me to who was fast asleep woke up coughing and grasping at the window to get out of the plane.

Kim Napier: Oh, are you serious?

Kate: And that was a Queen's coronation carriage. It's never been achieved since.

Kim Napier: So it doesn't necessarily have to be the loudest or the longest, it's just the power.

Phil Sylvester: Just the deadliest.

Kate: Quite the opposite.

Kim Napier: All right. Okay.

Phil Sylvester: All right, let's move down the bowel a little, come on.

Kate: Yes, so I'd like to say all of these things happened before I had children, so I can't really use that as an excuse. But it seems since my late teens, there has been an issue with a loose bowel. And the worst one as a teenager, you know you're very self-conscious, I was about 15, it was on a school trip in Coventry. Went to see the Pope, funnily enough. And after we went to see the Pope, we went on this big hike. And I was wearing what were fashionable in the mid-'80s, a yellow jean. And we were on this hike, and we had been staying at this youth hostel with suspect hygiene, and anyway, I realized that I was going to shit my pants. So you know when you get the terrible stomach cramps and then you realize no matter how tight you squeeze your sphincter, nothing is going to stop this coming out.

Kim Napier: Yep, as we heard earlier.

Phil Sylvester: That's it, yep. You're actually only going to make it worse.

Kim Napier: Yeah.

Kate: Anyway, I decided to sort of hang back on the walk with these, lots of teenagers from my school. And anyway, diarrhea filler the jean from the ankle up to the waist. And of course, they're yellow, so there's an issue there. Yellow is not going to be a primary color over the top of brown. But my friend Katie walking behind me going, "For God's sake, tie something around your waist," because she could see it all seeping through the jean.

Kim Napier: Poor girl.

Kate: And when we got to the top, it was [Simon Lingam's 00:41:18] dad actually that was leading the group. He said, "Right, everyone's got to touch the stone at the top," so that you got to the hike. And I was just like, "I don't need to go to the top. I'm fine, thank you Mr. Lingam. I'm just happy to stand back here and watch you all touch it."

Kim Napier: I've just touched the cloth.

Kate: Yeah, I've touched cloth, I don't need to touch a rock as well. So then I had to go down to the Etos store, and I had to peel these jeans off. And because they were my favorite jeans, I thought, well I'm taking them home to wash.

Kim Napier: Oh, yuck.

Kate: So after I'd showered I put them in a bin liner, and then when we got home, my mum was going through all my washing, and she opened this bag and was like, "What the hell is in here?" And I said, "Oh, it's just my yellow jeans, had a bit of an accident." And she threw them onto a bonfire that my dad was having in the garden. She burned them.

Kim Napier: All that effort for nothing.

Phil Sylvester: A bonfire.

Kate: I know.

Kim Napier: All right, you're not a stranger to it as you said. Give us a couple more.

Kate: Well, I have chosen so many scenic places in the world where I crapped my pants, unfortunately. We were in Ha Long Bay, staying on a houseboat, at the time I think when Ha Long Bay really did have pristine waters. I'm not sure that's the case anymore. And I could feel again the rumble in the regions. So I thought, I'll jump off the boat and have a little swim. And there was a great fan of chickpea related [inaudible] around me. It was quite beautiful, it was like a sort of fan around, and then one of the people on the boat went, "Oh, that's a brilliant idea, Kate," and they all jumped in and they were swimming through my effluent.

Kate: Then another time I got caught short, I was in Rome, and I was in a park opposite the Colosseum. And when I need to go, I need to go. So I went into some bushes and discovered that all of the bushes in this park were homeless people living there, and I had to move all the way to the edge of where the railing of the park meets a flight of stairs, which I didn't realize. There's 400 steps that come up. And as I'm there, doing my business, wiping my bum with my undies, there's all these tourists walking up the steps, taking a picture of the Colosseum, and there was jeering and applause. So that was quite embarrassing.

Kate: And another time, I was at the Palace of Versailles, and we were having a picnic in the gardens.

Phil Sylvester: Well, there's plenty of bushes to hide in there.

Kate: Well, you'd think so, Phil. But it's more avenues of trees than bushes. So we'd gone off walking for about a mile to find a lovely picnic spot, and then I realized I needed to go as is my way. And so I had to go behind a tree with my best friend keeping watch. And I had to use the pages at the of her book, page other novels by this author pages, as toilet paper. And then when my husband came back because he'd gone off for a walk, he came back and [Rhys] said, "Come and see what Kate's done, it's amazing." It really was, it was like a cowpat. It was extraordinary. And my husband took a photo of it.

Phil Sylvester: That's love.

Kate: For a while, it was on our fridge under a fridge magnet.

Kim Napier: I think we'll wrap this episode up here, Phil. You can get the World Nomads podcast from wherever you grab your favorite podcast and please feel free to share, rate, and subscribe. Have you got anything to say?

Phil Sylvester: If you want to email us with your own shitting stories then do so at And look for the World Nomads podcast Facebook group as well, we mentioned that one earlier, and let's continue the conversation there. I'd love to hear some of your stories.

Kim Napier: There'll be a picture of Kate's crap.

Phil Sylvester: Yeah. And there's some pretty good photos of you and I in tears during the making of this episode. All right.

Kim Napier: Exactly. Next week, from tears of laughter to tears of sadness. JD found wandering a market alone in the Philippines at age five. His story, truly amazing. That's next time we meet. Bye.

Phil Sylvester: Bye.

Announcer: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.

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