I’m starting off with a disclaimer – this touches on some points that are sort of gross. But poop can be gross and if you have a baby or toddler you are well acquainted with their poop! A friend was  recently was asking me about what I did with my toddler for toilet training and then we thought ‘if she’s looking for ideas then others likely are too’.

Potty training in the great outdoors…that should be easy, you just pee in the bush!! Right?! Well, maybe sometimes, but I’m talking about no longer using diapers while going to ski hills, driving to a hike, etc.


My daughter woke up one day this winter and said ‘no more diapers’. To be honest I didn’t want the transition until we were out of snow suits but the choice was hers and so the potty adventure began. However, I do feel fortunate that my daughter was the leader in wanting to use the potty. We had introduced her to the potty by reading potty books and getting little potty’s and toddler toilet seats but one day she just decided that she was ready.

She decided no more diapers on a Saturday. At the beginning she had about a 5 second warning before she had to go which isn’t too hard at the house. Thankfully it was one of the few weekends we were not away skiing. On the other hand we had other obligations such as a best bud’s second birthday party.

We quickly learned what we needed for the road:

Lots of travel pottys!

Potty Training While on the Road

We have a potty that lives in each of our cars. We never take it out because if we do it seems that is when our toddler needs it the most! We have two different potty styles in two different cars (one from a thrift store for $0.50 and another one from Ikea). One is one solid piece while the other has the removable inside – the seat stays while the removable piece allows you to dump out the poo or pee. I prefer the two piece as it’s a little more inconspicuous in case you are in a town or city. For example when I have found myself in downtown Canmore, Alberta walking to the public restroom to dump it out after our toddler had a car poop while the car was pulled over. I also like a potty with a back on it which makes it all around easier for your child when you need to put it on the passenger seat for it to be used in the car.

We found that in the winter pulling over on the highway was often unsafe for a toddler to get out. We also found random unimaginable situations would come up forcing us to use the potty in the car. I guarantee that you will need to use the potty in the car at some point if you want to get out of the house with your child. I highly recommend being able to reach the potty without getting out of the car (van’s and open vehicles are great for this), make sure you have wipes, a zip lock baggie and hand sanitizer.

Disposal of Pee and Poop

Getting rid of pee is easy (e.g. dump almost anywhere) while getting rid of poop can require more creativity in order to dispose of it properly. I have used a dog poop bag before due to unavailable sanitary options. If you don’t have dog poop bags on you regularly it might be good to think about this and leave an extra large zip lock or something in the car or backpack at all times just in case. I’ve only had to do this once but VERY happy I had the option.

Cleaning out a potty on the road requires water. It helps to loosen the poop so you aren’t having to get wrist deep scrubbing (I warned you some of this is gross). Wet wipes are handy but so are small pebbles, hand sanitizer and water. Pebbles help scrub out anything stuck in the potty.

Taking Care of Business Outside

I am personally comfortable with teaching my kid how to pee outside. This happens when in the middle of a hike and there are no options. If anyone is saying eww, you have never been on a hike without any options available. Nature calls in nature. Kids have great balance and can usually take care of business themselves (hold them if required of course)!

Bring a change of clothes and don’t make a big deal if they need a change. Accidents still happen from time to time with my toddler even though she has been potty trained for a couple months now. It often happens when we are caught up in doing something fun. I don’t feel the need to bring a change of clothes on hikes. My toddler is usually able to go in the outdoors with as little as a one second warning. I also do let my daughter know when we don’t have spare clothes and she hasn’t yet had an accident without access to dry pants – this may be coincidence or conscious control I don’t know.

Going from diapers to a toilet is exciting for everyone. Traveling and going outside while learning to use the potty requires some planning but it is very achievable. It definitely should not stop us from taking our kids on adventures!

By Karen
By Karen
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2 thoughts on “Potty Training in the Great Outdoors”

  1. Thanks for this useful hints.

    We’re also on hikes many times and when our kids have to pee or poop outside we look for a quiet place with soft soil or grass and then they sit down with their bottom flat on the ground. We don’t dig a hole underneath them.

    This way they can pee or poop very comfortable without need to get lifted in “sitting” position and without any danger to fall or pee or poop on their pants because the legs are spread forward and the pants at the ankles are far away from any splashing.

    The only struggle for them is to poop while having their bottom flat on the ground and needing to push the poo out against it. But most times they can handle it. Sometimes they complain that it seems to be “stuck”. Then they have to try a bit longer until it’s out but it works and it’s much easier and more comfortable for them than squatting or getting lifted.

    The only important thing is to wipe them properly after. When it’s all done we dig a small hole to bury everything and then it’s all fine.

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