By Bill Tressler
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Levine.
You’ve likely heard of Airbnb, the popular lodging app that helps travelers find a cheap, comfortable place to stay within another user’s home. Well, as with all technology, the next logical step arrived: Airpnp.
Yes, the “pnp” part means exactly what you think. Don’t let the toilet humor puns fool you, however–Airpnp is a serious(ly useful) app.
Founded in 2014 by New Orleans natives Max Gaudin and Travis Laurendine (and later joined by Brian Berlin), Airpnp is an iOS app which allows businesses and private residences to make their bathrooms available for public use, sometimes for free, sometimes for a small fee.
The intrepid entrepreneurs developed the idea in order to combat an epidemic that plagues their city once a year, usually around mid-February: public urination.
New Orleans is famous for its boozy Mardi Gras festivities, attracting partiers from around the country, and the world, every spring. Thus, where there is alcohol, there will always be the need to pee.
The packed streets and sardine-can bars don’t lend themselves well to bathroom emergencies, which often leads to revelers relieving themselves in alleys, on sidewalks, or just in the middle of a crowd. Along the Mardi Gras parade route, about 90 percent of arrests made are for public urination.
Screenshot by Bill Tressler.
Perhaps the initial app idea was a “quasi-joke,” but Airpnp quickly gained steam. In the last year it expanded from the greater New Orleans area to many major American cities.
Most of the public restrooms listed are free, making Airpnp a great resource in a pinch (no pun intended) when walking around an unfamiliar city and an emergency arises. For a more personal and private experience, app users can seek out posts by residents who offer private bathrooms available to the public, usually for around $1-3.
Pedestrians who feel especially unclean on a given day who don’t mind getting intimate with a stranger’s bathroom can even take advantage of a local’s bathtub.
Lots of locations also provide photos, so the user has some idea of what to expect before they commit to doing their most private business in a stranger’s home.
“One of our main focuses has been ensuring that people feel safe and comfortable when adding their bathrooms to our platform,” Gaudin writes on the Airpnp blog. “We’re trying hard to nurture a fun and caring community of bathroom hosts all over the globe.”
Regardless of one’s stance on pay-to-pee bathrooms, the usefulness of the Airpnp app cannot be denied: when out on the town and the need arises, few options are readily accessible. Airpnp will become your best friend.