Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Why We Chose Cloth Diapers
- Cloth Diapering and Travel-How to Plan
- Alternatives to Full Cloth Diapering on A Trip
- What to Pack When Traveling with Cloth Diapers
- Set Up A Diaper Station
- How to Handle Laundry with Cloth Diapers
- Flying with Cloth Diapers
- Road Trips with Cloth Diapers
- Can You Travel and Still Use Cloth Diapers?
If you plan to travel with a baby or toddler who wears cloth diapers, you may be wondering if that’s even feasible. Yes, it is! Here’s everything you need to know from how to plan, the best way to pack cloth diapers, and how to do laundry.
Diapers. They used to be what caught your baby’s waste. Now they’re a gray area in a “green” world. Google cloth diapers and you’ll reach all kinds of websites. Some talking about how using cloth is the environmentally friendly way to go. Some advocate that cloth is cheaper. Others lay down the argument that cloth isn’t really greener or cheaper when you factor in the cost of supplies and laundering. In the long run, it’s a personal choice that families must make for themselves.
Why We Chose Cloth Diapers
My husband and I discussed it and decided to use cloth diapers and cloth wipes for a few reasons. My husband was not a fan of adding to landfills, and I was not a fan of having to spend money on diapers weekly. We both thought they’d be more comfortable for the baby. However, as a family that travels frequently, we knew that cloth diapers had to fit into that lifestyle. Our first trip with our eight-week-old daughter was to see her six-year-old brother 3,000 miles away. So we test drove cloth diapers over long flights in a carry-on, during car travel, and through many diaper changes.
Cloth Diapering and Travel-How to Plan
Before our trip, I made a list of items that I would pack. I recommend looking at patterns in the weeks leading up to travel. Start paying close attention to the time of day your baby or toddler is soiling her diapers the most. How many diaper changes are you going through? How often are you washing cloth diapers? In a full day what type of cloth diaper are you using? Do you use cloth diapers overnight? Look over these notes. Write out a list of how many diapers you go through in one day and what types of cloth diapers they are (pocket, aio, all-in-two, etc).
From here build up a list. Think about when in your vacation you’ll have the chance to wash cloth diapers. You want to aim for enough diapers to cover the areas between laundry with a bit of a buffer.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Try to look for accommodations with laundry facilities. If none are available, research laundromats ahead of time and plan to head there during nap time.
Alternatives to Full Cloth Diapering on A Trip
I feel like it needs to be said. If you’re going on vacation and the idea of using cloth diapers on your baby or toddler sounds stressful, rethink your plan. It’s okay to switch to disposable diapers if it’s easier for that time period. We certainly did with my second daughter on trips to Walt Disney World. My oldest daughter had very sensitive skin, so using cloth diapers was the best choice for her. No vacation is fun with a rocking diaper rash.
There are also some hybrid choices out there. Grovia makes a hybrid diaper that can utilize either snap-in cloth pads or BioSoakers disposable inserts.
What to Pack When Traveling with Cloth Diapers
For our purposes we used flat fold cloth diapers, doublers, and reusable diaper covers. We also utilized disposable diaper liners which I HIGHLY recommend. It’s basically a sheet (looks like a dryer sheet) that goes between the cloth diaper and your baby that makes cleaning soiled diapers easier. When there’s poop you just peel off the liner and flush it all. For travel, this item was essential for us because we never had to deal with rinsing solids off of dirty diapers.
For four days we packed:
Diaper Bag & Pad
The diaper bag is going to be key here. With cloth diapers we found a backpack easier and it gave us free hands when traveling. There are a lot of stylish backpack options out there for diaper bags. Ultimately for us we used a regular Cotopaxi backpack. I love their bright colors and company ethics. It’s a bag I frequently pack for trips. For the plane, a folding changing pad comes in handy.
4 diaper covers (+2 in diaper bag)- We used lined reusable diaper covers that can be used for several changes.
1 Snappi on the baby and 1 in the diaper bag
6 doublers/inserts (+3 in diaper bag) (Here’s a tutorial on how I sewed some of my own doublers.)
30 diaper liners (they come in a roll so I tore off a bunch, folded them and put them in the pouch with the wipes in the diaper bag)
12 prefold diapers (+6 in diaper bag)
Wet/Dry Bags and Containment Items
One pail liner (lined with Pul)
Travel size plastic bags for diapers
Large wet bag – Word to the wise. Not all wet bags are created equal and some definitely seep through. I’m pretty brand loyal to PlanetWise and Bambino Mio. Definitely test whatever you travel with first. Don’t fly with one you haven’t used before!
Small wet bag (in the diaper bag)
Cloth diaper safe butt cream if you use it
Wipes (2 packs- 1 in suitcase, one in diaper bag- we used disposable wipes while we traveled)
A wipe case – No matter how travel-friendly wipe containers are supposed to be I’ve found them all to leak slightly when compressed in a suitcase.
Sanitizer (I like the ones that hook on the diaper bag) and sanitizing wipes for when hand washing isn’t immediately available
Diaper laundry powdered soap/ laundry detergent (Charlie’s comes in sticks now which are super easy for travel.)
Quarters for laundry if you aren’t staying in an AirBNB-style space with a free washer/dryer
Set Up A Diaper Station
Our experiment began with two connecting flights on a Friday. With the diaper bag loaded we stepped onboard feeling confident. Wet diapers went in the wet/dry sack, we had enough items, and magically she slept well on the plane during our six-hour second flight.
Upon arrival to the hotel room I set up a diaper table. We were very happy to have a chest of drawers in the bathroom which made the perfect diaper table. The diaper pail liner hung from a drawer pull and our supplies were folded into the top drawer. You can also bring packing cubes or portable flat containers to hold and organize items. We’ve used these containers these ones designed for drawer organization on trips for everything from clothes to snacks at Disney.
Designating a diaper station will help you keep a closer eye on what you have and when you need to plan for laundry.
How to Handle Laundry with Cloth Diapers
Our travel took us to a Homewood Suites in Seattle. There were laundry facilities on every floor which was very convenient. We planned to do laundry twice while there. It doesn’t sound fun but it was easy. I packed a Ziploc bag with four scoops of Charlie’s soap powder in it and another one with two loads worth of baking soda (I labeled both bags clearly in Sharpie for any curious TSA agents!). Upon landing, we went into a convenience store and bought a small bottle of vinegar for under $2. I easily did our laundry on Saturday night after the kids were in bed. On Monday I did another small load.
Our cleaning method was adapted to a high efficiency washing machine. Baking soda went into the softener slot, Charlie’s into the detergent slot and vinegar went into the bleach slot. I added an additional rinse and the machine only had to run once.
Flying with Cloth Diapers
We flew back on a Monday night on a red-eye flight with another fully loaded diaper bag. Any diapers that were soiled between Monday morning’s laundry and the flight that evening were tied off into plastic Handy Saks and consolidated into the clean liner. We packed these in our checked luggage.
On Tuesday, around 3 am somewhere over Kansas, the motherload hit- a blowout, poop-filled diaper. After calling to my husband from the lavatory’s changing table (thank you, JetBlue!) for a backup pocket diaper, I placed all poop-covered items into a plastic bag. I tied off the bag and put it in a small wet bag to clean later. If you want to see a full post on how to change a diaper on a plane, I’ve written about that as well. After four kids I feel like I’ve made a lot of mistakes and fine-tuned my methods.
Read more tips for flying with a baby here.
Road Trips with Cloth Diapers
With subsequent children we flew less and drove more. Once we became a larger family, driving was just cheaper than flying for most vacations. The thought process for packing is very similar. The only extra piece of advice I’d give is to add on items for the car seat and pay careful attention to how it’s installed. We have an extremely memorable family vacation memory involving my youngest daughter’s epic blowout as we were waiting in line at the border checkpoint coming back into Vermont from Montreal. My son went to retrieve her pacifier out of her car seat and brought up a poop-covered hand. How he didn’t scream I’m not sure. From that point on every road trip I made sure to pack:
An extra car seat cover. Trust me. Buying an extra one is one of the best investments you’ll ever make if you road trip. Some brands sell them and sometimes you can post looking for one from someone getting rid of the same seat.
A piddle pad. It goes in the car seat under their butts since that’s where they usually leak. If a leak happens you just pull that one piece out. Buy this two pack. Trust me.
A reusable diaper cover. We used these even when the kids were in disposables. It’s just one extra layer of containment and saved us many times. I highly highly recommend getting a few to use for travel.
Read more tips on taking a road trip with a baby here.
Can You Travel and Still Use Cloth Diapers?
On a daily basis on our trip cloth diapers were no more difficult than disposable. We did start throwing wipes and liners into the wet/dry sack when there were no trash cans around. Some of them went through the wash and we just picked them out later.
The bottom line is it is very possible to cloth diaper on a cross country trip. Three tricks to keep in mind:
1) Plan on doing laundry during the trip. Don’t pack every single diaper you have.
2) Bring a travel pack of Handy-Saks or a bunch of plastic bags for possible blowouts when you are out and about.
3) When you arrive in your hotel room set up a diaper station similar to what you have at home.
Good luck and safe travels!
Carmel L. Mooney says
Wow, glad my diapering days are over but great article!!