Starting the potty training process can seem overwhelming at first to parents and children. Add in strange bathrooms, adult-sized toilets and the less-than-pleasant condition of many public bathrooms, and potty training can feel like an even bigger hurdle to overcome. But you can’t let potty training tie you to your home, and kids eventually have to learn to potty train while out and about

Make a Plan Before You Leave Home

Vicki Lansky, a mom and potty training expert, says the best way for a child to potty on the go is to invest in a portable, fold-up potty seat that fits over an adult-sized toilet. Inexpensive and made of plastic, these seats fold up small enough to fit into a purse or other bag. They’re easy to wipe down and can be used anywhere.

Lansky also suggests these strategies for potty training outside:

  • Be sure the child goes potty right before and after going anywhere. 
  • Use the larger, handicapped stalls in public restrooms. They allow a parent and child to be more comfortable. 
  • Take a change of clothes, and don’t make a big deal about accidents. 
  • Bring a travel potty chair, which folds up fairly small and has a carry handle. Or, if you’re going to use a portable potty seat, try it on the big toilet at home first.

Lansky also suggests parents have a potty plan before they head out for errands, to a restaurant or to an event like a birthday party. Know where the bathrooms are in each place you go in case you need to get to one fairly quickly. The Potty Seek and Find game and Find the Potty game are fun ways to make this part of your and your child’s routine. Not only will you both learn where the bathroom is, you’ll also take care of any immediate potty needs before you start your shopping, errands or visiting.

This potty reconnaissance will be especially reassuring to kids with cautious or shy potty personalities. Some kids are amazed when they discover that locations like the grocery store or Grandma’s house ALSO have toilets. They might have thought that the potties in your house were the only ones in the whole world!

Beware the Scary Flush!

Sarah Kuehn — a mom from Enid, Oklahoma — approached potty training a little differently with her second child. Overall, things went pretty smoothly when she went through the potty training process with her first daughter, Katrina, until a bad experience with a high-tech toilet.

“It was one of those automatic flushing toilets, and it flushed when she was on it,” says Kuehn. “Katrina was terrified and for a long time wouldn’t go to the bathroom when we were out. I had to make sure she went beforehand, make sure the trips were short, and just drop everything and come home if she had to go.” 

Thankfully, Katrina got over her fear, but Kuehn will be sure to warn her 17-month-old in advance when it’s her turn for potty training. 

Keep Potty Needs Top of Mind

When you’re busy crossing items off that grocery list or catching up on the latest news from friends and family, don’t be so distracted that you miss your child’s signals that they have to go. Meanwhile, your child might be excited and distracted, too. Our Potty Time Sequence Cards can help remind your child of the steps for going potty.

Pack a Travel Potty Training Kit

You might have tossed the old diaper bag aside when you started potty training. Even if you picked out a stylish bag, it probably wasn’t your favorite accessory. But don’t leave home empty handed. Grab a favorite bag and toss in these essentials for potty training on the go:

  • A change of clothes for your child just in case of accidents. If you visit someone like Grandma or Grandpa often, you might also want to leave a change of clothes at their house.
  • A portable potty seat that can fit over a regular toilet seat in public restrooms.
  • Stickers or other small treats that you are using as rewards. You could also use an added bonus as your child’s potty training on-the-go incentive.
  • A book. If reading is part of how you potty train, be sure to carry a book when you go out. It’s important to keep the routine as familiar as possible, and hearing a story can bring some calm to a situation that might feel a little scary to your child.
  • Pull-Ups® training pants. Even if your child has been using underpants, it’s okay to resume using Pull-Ups® training pants when you’re away from home. They can give you and your little one peace of mind as they learn to navigate toilets at stores, restaurants and other houses.

A solid plan can make everyone more comfortable. Remember, too, that a relaxed attitude toward potty training goes a long way. You’ll get through this together. And someday soon, you and your toddler will be exploring your community without a potty worry in mind.

Wondering how to make potty training work at daycare or preschool? Try these five tips for preschool potty training. Or, if you’re going out for a longer trip, try these tips.