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Nature Calling? There's an App for That

As George Costanza can attest, one of the keys to urban survival is knowing where to go for the most magnificent facilities.

Bathrooms, that is. 

Like George, many of us have spent years memorizing the locations of stores and coffee shops with public restrooms. But for the unlucky tourist who doesn't already know the Starbucks on 42nd and 6th has no bathroom, there’s good news. It seems we are in the midst of a restroom revolution, with companies developing private, members-only facilities, a handy app that helps you find the nearest place when the situation is dire, and the latest entry in the peer-to-peer economy: toilet sharing.

For a curated experience, download the Flushd app, which launched last week. It not only quickly locates the nearest public facilities in emergency situations, but also helps you discover restrooms that accommodate specific needs (changing tables, attendants, complimentary matchbooks). Additional features allow users to track their bathroom habits, stream social media feeds and reading materials, and—for those who really crave commendation—receive badges for active use. 

If you’re traveling out of public-bathroom range and in desperate straits, you can now try the newly launched AirPnp website. Inspired by the popular peer-to-peer vacation rental service, AirBnb, the site lets people charge strangers to use their facilities. In Brooklyn, for example, a $10 fee will get you access to a spacious bathroom equipped with a toilet, Jacuzzi, and shower. You’re even welcome to use the homeowner’s hairdryer. 

For those who want a little more exclusivity, there's POSH Stow and Go, a first-of-its-kind restroom club debuting in several midtown Manhattan locations in June. For $15 annually, members get soundproof powder rooms, digital lockers, and upscale showers. If successful, it's a concept that could take off. 

Where once the mere thought of public bathrooms left us feeling squeamish, we may very well find ourselves flocking together in a shared commitment to cleanliness and camaraderie, not unlike the ancient Romans in their sweeping Baths of Diocletian.

Or, at the very least, rejoicing at a sanitary seat. As one AirPnP wrote after her experience in an office restroom in Siena, Italy: “Grandissimi!”

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.


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