Beginner, Travel

Traveling with Cloth Diapers – Tips and Tricks to Make It Easier

With the holidays on the horizon, many of you may be making travel plans and wondering if you will be able to continue using cloth diapers. Traveling with cloth diapers is certainly doable, but it does require a bit of forethought and planning. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should use cloth during your travels:

  1. How long will you be gone?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What kinds of resources might you have available to you?

The answers to these questions will help you determine if it would make sense to travel with your cloth diapers, or if you need to make other arrangements.

Question 1: How Long Will You Be Gone?

cloth-diaper-stashIf you are only going to be gone one or two nights, it will be no problem to use cloth. At that length, you don’t need to worry about laundry because you can do it when you get home. As long as you have a large zippered wet bag (or maybe a few small ones), you will be fine to store your dirty diapers without issue.

One thing to consider though is how big your stash is. When you aren’t planning on doing laundry, you may need to pack the bulk of your stash. I usually planned for at least 6-7 diapers per day (but if you have a newborn, you may need even more). If you were going to be gone 2 nights, that usually means you need 3 days worth of diapers (depending on when you depart or arrive back home). That means I would need 18-21 diapers for my trip. There are ways to manage the amount of diapers you need, and I will be discussing them later in this article.

Question 2: Where Are You Going?

hotel-with-cloth-diapersWhere you are going may determine whether you want to use cloth. As you know, sometimes cloth might be messy. Depending on where you’re staying, you may or may not feel comfortable using cloth. When we travel, we usually stay with one of our sets of parents. In those cases, we are totally all for using cloth. However, we have traveled to another state and stayed with relatives a little more distant. Sometimes with relatives that are a little more distant, you aren’t sure if they’re going to worry or exaggerate the idea of whatever mess you might be making.

The main point is this: your destination will ultimately determine your comfort level with doing what you need to do to care for your cloth.

Question 3: What Kinds of Resources Do You Have Available?

laundromat-cloth-diapersIf you are going to be gone for a full week and will not have access to washing machine (or another way to wash your diapers, if you’re willing to hand wash), bringing cloth may not be the best idea. Cloth diapers are best maintained by washing every 2-3 days. If you wait a week to wash them, you may run into issues with mold (I know it’s happened to me before when I found a stray wet bag left from an outing in the back of a car several days later!) You may also run into issues with strong odors. Those issues aside, the amount of diapers you would need to pack to get a full week’s worth with no washing would be a lot of extra bags of luggage! You could need 40-50 diapers!

However, if you will be staying with a relative that is in full support of you using cloth and you have access to a washing machine, using your cloth is still completely doable. If you’re staying in a hotel and have access to coin laundry, you could also consider using cloth (just make sure you do an excellent job removing any poop from diapers to be as courteous as possible to other people–you might even consider doing a quick rinse or soak of those diapers in the toilet to make sure there isn’t any stray solids left behind).

How to Travel with Your Cloth Diapers

traveling-with-cloth-diapersNow that you have been given a few things to consider about whether using cloth during travel makes sense, here is how you can do it as easily and efficiently as possible. There are two separate sets of instructions–instructions for those that will be gone a short amount of time, and instructions for those gone long enough to need a washing plan.

If you will be gone a short amount of time:

  1. Determine how many diapers you need (depends on the age of your baby, but think of how many you usually go through in a day and multiply by how many days you will be gone–add an extra couple diapers for good measure, you don’t want to run out!)
  2. Make sure you have a wet bag large enough (or a few small ones) to store all your dirty diapers.
  3. Make sure you pack a diaper rash cream that is cloth diaper safe.
  4. Use a duffel bag for your diapers! I’ve tried many ways of packing diapers, including putting them right the baby’s suitcase. I have preferred having the diapers in a separate bag that is easy to carry, like a duffel bag or a backpack. That way you don’t need to pack a larger suitcase, which can be bulky, or pull things out of it every time you need a diaper. I usually use my gym bag for this when we travel.

If you will be gone for longer than 2-3 days:

1. Decide how often you want to wash while gone. There are two different schools of thought on this–some want to do as little laundry as possible when traveling, but that means you need to have room for a bigger stash of diapers. Others plan to wash frequently. I personally do a small load of laundry every day when I travel. I pack enough diapers for 2 days worth (plus a couple extra), and I wash/dry a small load daily. I do this because:

    1. Keeps the amount of dirty diapers at bay–if you are visiting someone else’s home, I feel like is a more courteous approach to take. In a different home, you won’t have your typical set up for dirty diapers. You don’t want to fill their guest room with a mound of dirty diapers that sits there for days.
    2. I don’t need to pack as many, therefore keeping our luggage a little lighter.
    3. You can bring home clean diapers instead of loading up the car or airline luggage with dirty diapers to stink it up.

Daily washing might not be possible if you are staying somewhere that you need to go offsite to wash (like maybe a laundromat). In that case, just make a plan ahead of time for how and when you’re going to wash, and pack the respective amount of diapers.

2. You will still need to bring either one large wet bag or a few small ones to store dirty diapers in-between washings.

3. Pack your preferred detergent. I measure out what I need and pack it in a Tupperware. If you use a liquid, you could consider putting what you need in a mason jar.

4. Make a plan for drying: if you usually hang dry, you will want to thing about how you will do that. Maybe you can plan to just hang them on the towel bars and/or bathtub and shower curtain bar. I personally just use the dryer if available–that makes the diapers ready for use much faster.

5. Decide how you will pack the diapers. I prefer using a diaper bag or backpack as opposed to a larger suitcase (I always found it more convenient to have the diapers readily accessible). Do what works for you, though! If it’s important to you to have fewer bags (like if you’re flying), then go ahead and use a larger suitcase to accommodate.

Traveling with Cloth is Doable, but…

You can totally travel with cloth, and I encourage you to do so if you want! I won’t lie, though–it really is more convenient to travel with disposables, and this is coming from someone that usually eye rolls the “cloth is just too inconvenient” comments. There are times it just makes more sense to travel with disposables, and if that’s what you need to do, that is totally okay! Remember, using cloth diapers doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It all comes back to what your reasons for using cloth are: some babies have reactions to disposables, and it might be really important for your family to figure out how to travel with cloth. Some families might be working toward “zero waste”, and it may also be really important to you to use cloth. If you use cloth for budgetary reasons, maybe you just feel it will be more convenient to spring for disposables for your travels. It’s up to you, and you don’t need to feel pressured to do it one way over another.

Would you ever travel with cloth diapers, or do you have any tips to add? Share in the comments!

Happy travels!

 

 

 

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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10 Comments

  1. Darren says:

    This was a very thorough post that practically answered all queries a new parent might have when deciding to use cloth diapers. 

    I must admit I didn’t actually know cloth diapers were still going and it’s made think of my mum and the difficulties of road trips when I was a baby! 

    What are the advantages of using cloth diapers compared to I suppose I call them modern diapers? 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Darren! Yes, times have certainly changed–it must have been really difficult to travel back before disposables were the norm! There are a lot of pros to cloth, primarily cost, environmental reasons, and some kids have allergic reactions to the chemicals in disposables and do better in cloth. You can check out my Pros and Cons post if you’re interested! Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers

  2. What a timely article as our fourth grand child was just born last week.  I know the kids at the moment are using disposables but are truly talking about switching to cloth.  They don’t often travel on long trips but very often do one and 2 nighters.  I’m going to have to show them this and see if it can help them in their decision.  I’m not going to lie, if it was me I would be disposable all the way.  However it really isn’t my decision and we support them either way.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      That’s awesome that they have your support, Dale! 🙂

  3. Snap Brisk says:

    Thank you for sharing this great post! I was searching for some tips to travel with my 11 month old son and I found this post. Actually I have never tried them but it seems to be something good and for us something new. Where can I buy them and how many of them do you recommend for 1 week staying in a hotel without possibility to wash cloth? 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hello! If you’re interested in getting started with cloth diapering, you can get some diapers through Amazon, though they don’t have a huge variety and not always the best price. Some popular retailers are Kelly’s Closet and clothdiaper.com. You might be interested in learning more about different styles of diapers, you can check out my post here: Cloth Diaper Types

      If you were just now wanting to get into cloth diapering, I would probably wait until after your trip. 🙂 If you don’t have a way to wash cloth, you will need 40-50 diapers and that is quite a big investment right before a trip!

  4. This article is so helpful as I was making plans for my next vacations, they are going to be a week long and I was assuming that I had to pack a lot of disposables since I don’t think I will be able to buy them there. 

    But now I have a new perspective and think I can manage to take cloth diapers and hand wash them… that could be a possibility. 

    Thanks!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Yes, handwashing is definitely a possibility! You could also look into Hybrid Diapers–they might be convenient for your travels.

  5. Going on vacation with cloth diapers is certainly doable, but it’s not easier than disposable diapers.  I went on vacation with my best friend and she has a 6 month old who is very sensitive to disposable diapers.  We flew to Florida and she was planning on washing the cloth diapers as frequently as she could, but it wasn’t as easy as she thought it was going to be.  The best she could do was use the cloth diapers and dispose of them.  She had no choice but to buy more cloth diapers during the vacation, but sometimes you gotta do what’s you gotta do.  All in all it didn’t ruin our vacation we still had a great time.

    -Dora

    1. Holly Lee says:

      I’m glad you still had a great time! That is so true–some people really don’t have the luxury of convenience due to allergies and sensitivities, and they need to find ways to make cloth work on the road. It isn’t easy! Your friend might be interested in Hybrid Diapers for travel–you can get disposable inserts, but they are made from different materials of typical disposables and are biodegradable. Then she would just need to wash covers, which could easily be done in a sink!

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