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From long flights to backpacking treks, one of the ugly universal truths of travel is a condition known as stanky bottom. Toilet paper is no match for this. In fact, it often exacerbates the problem, causing chafing and other issues. When stanky bottom strikes—and strike it will—you’re going to need a little moisture and perhaps the added benefit of a pleasant scent, one reminiscent of a lavender-filled meadow in the south of France.
In short, you need some butt-wipe.
If this sounds like ad copy, it’s because the free market is lousy with all manner of moist towelettes. So which one is right for you, weary (and stanky) traveler? Let my unscientific field test be your guide.
For the world’s most delicate asses: Pampers Sensitive Wipes
These perfume-free, hypoallergenic wonders are meant for babies, but they’re great for sensitive adult derrieres too. I’ve used them on both camping and business trips and am happy to report that they’re thicker than most wipes and as gentle as advertised. I realize this makes me sound like a complete shill (and one with a sensitive backside, no less), but I don’t care—these wipes work.
For the weekend warrior: Freshends
The luxury sedan of moist towelettes come individually wrapped, are flushable and biodegradable, and contain ingredients such as chamomile, aloe, cucumber extract, and vitamin E. Honestly, I have no idea how cucumber improves the experience, but Freshends smell nice (sort of like that classic dryer-sheet scent) and get the job done.
For the eco-conscious traveler: Ez Wyp Biodegradable Non-Alcohol Wipes
These wipes come dry and compressed, so they’re easy to pack and use. Moisten with water, and they grow like those expandable foam toys from your childhood. Though not as soft as other wipes, they’re chemical-free and all-natural, which seems like a pretty fair trade-off if you care about those things.
For cash-strapped backpackers, climbers, et cetera: plants, moss
We’ve all had to use a leaf before, but not all leaves are created equal, hygienically speaking. The following are nature’s finest wipes: mullein (a hairy biennial plant found the world over; be sure to go against the fuzz), sphagnum (a moss known in my native state of Wisconsin as “lumberjack toilet paper”), and bigleaf aster (the large, heart-shaped leaves of this herbaceous perennial are naturally suited to combat stanky bottom).