TRAVELLING WITH CLOTH DIAPERS

At historic Nelson’s Dockyard, looking cute in his BumGenius.

When we told people that we were planning to use cloth diapers on our two-week trip to Toronto and the Caribbean, there were a few intimations from friends and family that we might be nuts. Well, I am pleased to report that over the course of four flights, almost 40 hours of transit time, and 13 days away from home, we did not use a single disposable diaper!

Travelling with cloth diapers is a viable option, and can be surprisingly easy — as long as you have ready access to laundry facilities. Of course nobody wants to spend their vacation hanging out in a laundromat, or even worse, hand-washing soiled diapers! 🙂

In our case, because we stayed with family in Toronto, and in apartment style accommodations in the Caribbean, we always had a washing machine and dryer close at hand. We have been using cloth diapers since Oliver’s birth, so we have the whole laundry process down to a rather efficient art — about five minutes’ actual work per load of laundry, if we share the duties of diaper stuffing and wipes folding.

In retrospect, the only change we might make in future is to buy a small package of disposables for use on long stretches of transit, for example, on Sunday, when we travelled for 16 consecutive hours. Cloth diapers are bulkier than their disposable counterparts, and there simply wasn’t enough room in the carry-on diaper bag to accommodate the “one diaper for every two hours of travel, plus two extras” that most travel experts recommend. And as our journey progressed, the diaper bag became increasingly heavy (wet diapers) and more awkwardly packed (diapers shoved in a wet bag instead of neatly rolled or folded). This was not a problem on our relatively short trips from Vancouver to Toronto and Toronto to the Caribbean. On the plus side, at least we never had to worry about the prospect of a messy blowout while stuck in an airplane or taxi.

That aside, the rest was easy. We packed a two-day supply of diapers (24, including the ones in our carry-on bag), a stack of cloth wipes, two diaper pail liners, three small wet bags, three waterproof change pads and a small baggie of Rockin’ Green laundry detergent. We washed the diaper laundry every second day, just as we do at home.

For extended travel, it is imperative that no dirty diapers are left at home, so I washed a load of diaper laundry as close to our departure as practicable, then placed the two subsequent dirty diapers into a wet bag and packed them into Oliver’s suitcase. Yes, you read that correctly: I packed soiled and wet diapers into our luggage.

We found from previous experience that pocket diapers take up less luggage space when the liners and shells are separated. The liners stack neatly in a pile and the shells can be squished into various spaces amongst clothing and other items.

We improvised a diaper pail and wipes container from an empty recycling bin and a plastic food container at my folks’ house in Toronto. In the Caribbean, we simply hung the diaper pail liner from a doorknob and stashed the wet wipes in a mixing bowl from the kitchen. Even without a lidded container, the humidity kept them sufficiently wet.

The advantages to bringing our cloth diapers were numerous.

For starters, we would not have been able to pack enough disposables to see us through our entire trip, and would have had to purchase diapers soon upon arrival in the Caribbean. Since our resort was 40 minutes’ drive from the grocery store (and a US$70 car rental or return cab fare to get there), diaper shopping would have been a rather inconvenient and costly endeavour. Not to mention the fact that a small 32-pack of Pampers sells for a whopping $92 EC (about US$34)!!

Because of the hot, humid climate, Oliver developed a little bit of diaper rash in the first few days. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been had his bum been clad in plastic instead of cloth. Since we could wash our diapers and weren’t worried about running out, we simply changed him more frequently and the rash cleared right up.

Finally, for what it’s worth, cloth diapers look cute. Oliver spent most of his days in either just a diaper, or a diaper with a t-shirt/onesie, and we never felt badly about taking him to restaurants or out in public without any bottoms.

This was our second experience with extended air travel and cloth diapers, and it only served to confirm what we already knew: we can totally live without disposables.

13 responses to “TRAVELLING WITH CLOTH DIAPERS

  1. My husband and I are about to have our 1st baby in about 5 weeks, and we’re going to use cloth diapers. I hadn’t even considered what we might use if we traveled, but all the tips in this post make me feel confident that we’ll be able to travel with cloth diapers instead of having to buy disposables. Thanks for a great post!

    • You’re welcome 🙂 How exciting that you’ve only got five(ish) more weeks to go!

      Have you already decided which cloth diapers you’re going to use, or are you going to try a bunch of different ones?

  2. Yes, thanks for sharing your experience! There are so many issues to research when having a baby, that it is great to find a source of information like your blog so I do not have to reinvent the wheel!

  3. Great post — you should check out Flip Diapers (or similar) for your next trip. Re-usable cover with disposable liner. Kinda the best of both worlds! I’ve traveled with cloth as well on long trips and found the Flip system very handy, and I think it would solve all the issues you mentioned above (heavy diaper bag, space limitations etc).

    • I’ve seen those online, but never been able to have a look at them in real life to see exactly how they work. I think they’re made by the same company that makes our BumGenius diapers, though. It might be worthwhile for us to buy a small number of them to use for travel. I understand that the covers/shells can be re-used a few times as long as they’re not soiled.

    • You’ve gone camping with cloth diapers? I think that’s far more impressive than what we did!! Did you wash diapers on your camping trip, or just pack them to take home?

  4. Great article with some useful tips. As well as always having used cloth diapers for our regular vacations (inlcuding camping), we actually used them for a 6 month backpacking trip round Asia (10 prefolds + 2 covers) and hand washed them which isn’t as horrendous as it first sounds. (It did help that our daughter was also EC’d for bowl movements so we didn’t have many BM diapers to wash). Our trip wouldn’t have been possible if we were using disposables.

    • That is amazing – especially the fact that you managed to get by for so long with so few diapers!! Seems like prefolds and covers might be better suited to travel than pocket diapers or AIOs. As I asked the above poster, how did you work cloth diapering for your camping trips? We’d like to do some camping this summer, so I’m very curious.

  5. Hello Onefitmom,
    Neat Post, I’m interested in maybe using some cloth for my next child but my question is how hard it is to switch from using cloth to regular and back? I ask because daycare would not use cloth and if I’m out somewhere or traveling I will use regular but I’d like to try cloth for when I’m at home or just making quick runs. Also how do you care for cloth diapers and it is pretty easy? I won’t be able to use a service so I will have to do it on my own. Thanks.
    Good Job!

    • We haven’t really used much in the way of disposables, but I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to switch between the two. I know there are some daycares that will agree to use cloth diapers if you make it really easy for them (for example, using pocket diapers or all-in-ones, which are intuitive to use and go on and off just like regular diapers). Might be worth asking if they’d consider it.

      Below is a link that will send you to a page with all of my posts I’ve written about cloth diapers. There’s lots of information there on how we chose the diapers we are using, how we care for them and what our overall experience has been. I definitely recommend cloth, and I can’t say that the effort of cleaning and maintaining them has been onerous in the least 🙂

      https://onefitmom.ca/?s=cloth+diapers

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