Traveling to Nigeria: bathroom “necessities”

When I came back from Nigeria at the end of 2008, there were some things I knew I’d do differently next time. Today I’m going to talk about the things I’ll bring with me next time to make bathroom-related activities more comfortable.

Both sides of my family come from extremely modest backgrounds. Today, neither of my grandparents’ homes have running water, so no flushing toilets or showers: the bathroom is a room with a hole in the ground, and baths are taken in another room where you draw a bucket or two of water from the well and act as your own shower. My morning baths were ice cold. It didn’t occur to me to boil some water and add it to my well water to make it a bit warmer like one of my smart friends who went to Naija last year did; I adopted the “When in Rome…” philosophy. It helps that it was very hot there so that ice cold bath was welcome.

I didn’t mind using the bathroom during the day but at night, it wasn’t uncommon to see a cockroach in the bathroom. They don’t attack or approach you in anyway but the moment I would see one, the urge to use the facilities would vanish and I’d scurry back to bed (and by “scurry” I mean squeal and run back to bed. My grandmother’s tenants, including the children, were very amused by me). Cockroaches and all bugs freak me out and more annoying is the fact that their presence is not always a sign that the conditions you’re in are dirty: if these pests are able to enter through drains or cracks in the walls, they will.

The following are the things that’ll make using the facilities that much more pleasant next time:

Wipes
I’m talking about the moist paper towel-like things, like diaper wipes, and they were honestly one of the best things I brought. I wash my hands far too often, and having to get water from the well each time, or having to go to the back yard to get a scoop of water is not as convenient as being able to grab a wipe and and be done with it.

I’m going to look into antibacterial wipes for the next trip, that and plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (my new constant companion).

Toilet paper and paper towels
We brought this last time and I’ll just bring more. We didn’t run out but I firmly believe that you can never have too much of the stuff.

(Lots of) plastic grocery bags
One thing my sister and I had a hard time getting used to was the lack of trash cans around. This might just be in the neighbourhoods we stayed in but we were constantly looking for trash cans. We had a few plastic grocery bags that we made into garbage bins, but we quickly ran out. Next time we won’t.

Caddy/organizer for my eyeglasses, toilet paper, bath soap, shower gel, shampoo, etc.
I’m not saying this is a necessity, but if I could hook something over the door of the bathroom and reach for things in there as needed rather than patting the ground searching for my eyeglasses, that would be ideal. My vision is very poor so anything that can make the process of bathing easier is good in my opinion.

Bathsheets (versus thick towels)
Bathsheets rock because they’re large and cover all of you, but more importantly they dry faster than a thicker towel, which means I can hang them to dry in the bedroom and not worry about them remaining damp all day.

Waterproof flipflops
Back when I used to have a gym membership, I would sometimes shower after working out. It didn’t take me long to get myself a pair of waterproof flipflops that I keep on my feet while showering. It was natural for me to bring them with me to Nigeria and they really came in handy with all sorts of activities where your feet could get wet, including bathing.

Another must is disinfectant. In Nigeria we used Izal, which is similar to Dettol Antiseptic Liquid. It’s not cheap but it’s very effective: just a few drops in your water allows you to wash down the bathroom quickly and effectively and leaves everything smelling nice.

What are your “necessities”?

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21 thoughts on “Traveling to Nigeria: bathroom “necessities”

  1. body wash with salicylic acid in it

    deoderant- the natural kind

    wet wipes

    hand sanitizer ( i have it everywhere!!)

    evian facial spritzer

    body splash/perfume

    flip flops/bedroom slippers

    l hvnt been to naija yet im hopefully going this yr

    when u go to naija do u stay in a city or…??

  2. GNG, you've been away too long, LOL! I had an aunt like that – running screaming mad each time she saw a cockroach, and boy! did we laugh our fill?! LWKMD

    Ah well, about meself, i be local "kpako" brought-up, so i no really send anything – but my advice: come along with a flash-light; power has gone from epileptic to down-right stone-cold over here. ;)

  3. well,ive kinda lived in nigeria all my life and we have our own houses where ever we've lived and running water too so when going back to naija this year, it will definitely just be with empty hands.

  4. If I am going straight to my village then everything on your list is what I take with me anyway. Our bathroom is inside the house but you still need to hold your stuff as you walk from room to room. I always took a big kaftan I would wear so visitors wouldn't know if I have had my bath or not (my Dad has visitors from 7am hmph!!)

    PS I second the suggestion of a torch, a definite must have.

  5. The others have said it all, I've lived in naija most of my life so these are like second nature though I lived in cities so things were a bit different.

  6. great list!

    Even though I've lived in african countries most of my life, I always lived in the city, not in the village..so I would be going through the same thing as you

    I loove Dettol! I always bring some back with me to the US

  7. Good list! I was spoiled at my Aunt's house in Lagos. She always insisted that she boil water for our baths. But I love your list and will keep it for when we go this year (God willing). I am also glad that I brought some books, although I finished them all and borrowed from my cousins. I need to find what to do about the constant sweating though. Because I got heat rash or whatever…

  8. hehehe I just came back from Nigeria! I loved it but I never stayed in the village though. I stayed in Ogba and VI both up-to-date bathrooms aprt from the one in Ogba never had hot water running in the tap.

    I only took normal essentials like toothpaste, sponge , face wash , toothbrush , Dettol and my towel. oh and I took face wipes and the hand stuff not ure what it's called but it's a liquif that evaporates while using it to clean your hands…

    love your blog n your vibe!

  9. Your list is very helpful. I'll keep that in mind when planning for my trip this year, the first in 15 years and only my second one…

  10. You may not need to bring tissue paper, paper towels and flip flops, wipes, hand sanitizer, grocery bags (like 100 cost N 250),

    Abi you'll be landing in Lagos, you could pick up all of them from supermarkets before you go to the village. Leaving you with less luggage to take back home. :)

  11. â–ºOnose

    Thanks for your contributions. Your focus was on beauty products and that I think will need its own entry! I especially love the idea of a spritz bottle.

    When we got to Nigeria we don't stay in the big city. The city we stay in is quite small: some houses in the neighbourhood have running water, some don't.

    â–ºkay9

    Even in Canada I hate bugs. If someone throws a piece of black fluff at me and says it's a bug, I'll scream. I know I'm a baby sha :(.

    Flashlight! That is definitely a must…in fact without it I woudn't be able to know that there was a cockroach in front of me. I'm going to edit the entry to add that…thank you.

    â–ºOlufunke

    I'm a wimp…maybe you will teach me to be braver when I'm next in Naija.

    â–ºleggy

    Oh, I envy you just a tiny bit. I don't actually mind it that much, I think because both my parents are products of that life so how can I act uppity or "too good" for it?

    â–ºCaramel Delight

    Oh, I like the idea of a caftan. It's classier than a bath sheet. Maybe I will get out my trusty sewing machine and attempt to make one!

    â–ºStandtall-The activist

    Thanks ma. Happy New Year to you too!

    â–ºMyne Whitman

    I'd like to say that my grandparents do live in cities, just smaller ones when compared to Lagos or Ibadan :)

    â–ºAmina

    I'm with you on the Dettol!

    â–ºRuthie

    Oh my, you sure were spoiled! You talk about other things that I plan to cover in a subsequent entry…books were a must! And I hear you on the sweating. I also dealt with mosquitoes.

    â–ºMiss FlyHigh

    Oh, I hope you had a great time away! I'm envious of you, let me not lie!

    Thanks for your lovely words about my blog. I appreciate it!

    â–ºNaijaAmeriacanGirl

    The first in 15 years and your second one? We're twins! My trip to Naija in 2008 was my second one since we've been in Canada and I had not been to Nigeria in 15 years!

    â–ºOmosi T

    Oh, I like the way you think…think of the space I'd save if I bought those things in Lagos instead of lugging them this distance! You're a genius!

  12. late as usual! i enjoyed myself reading your post, i enjoy most of your posts anyway. for some evil reason i'd have loved to watch you scurry from cockroaches. hahahaha. LWKMD. how have you been. happy new year

  13. I love your list, i dont know if I am ever going back to nigeria again. Well unless when my girls get married, then for sure.

  14. The list applies to living in Nigeria or staying over at a friend's place :-)

    One other thing is insect killer if there is anyone that has a nice smell.

  15. Just curious, do they live in the village? My inlaws house was similar to houses in the US. I had a totally different experience but we didn't make it to the village last time.

  16. â–ºhyaw

    Happy New Year! You're a cruel woman o: imagine wanting to see me run screaming from the roaches.

    â–ºAndrea

    Really? Do you have any family in Naija?

    â–ºRita

    Oh yes…insect cleaners are a must for Naija…that and insect repellants.

    â–ºAlisa N

    They live in a small city (I think someone corrected me before when I referred to Akure as a village). It's not Lagos, but it's not a village either.

  17. Soooo helpful. I've been trying to create a universal packing list for the past few months and I didn't think about some of these items. Especially the plastic grocery bags.

  18. hi guys,I am going to nigeria pls and i will like to know if i will be able to get hand sanitisers to buy in nigeria…thanks

  19. Thank you so much for this list. I am making my first of many trips to Nigeria this month. Though I had assumed some of the things on the list, the confirmation of the necessary precautions is helpful.

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