Traveling with Cloth Diapers- Can you do it? SHOULD you do it? A Pro Answers.

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Traveling with cloth diapers isn’t a cut an dry topic.  There are just so many variables that a simple “Yes you can use cloth diapers while traveling” or “No, you shouldn’t cloth diaper when traveling” is impossible.  I hope my vast experience with practically every type of scenario will shed some light on how to cloth diaper while traveling and maybe even when to skip it.

Air Travel- Flying with a baby can be a stressful idea even if the flight itself winds up being a breeze thanks to heavenly white noise and a baby happy to nurse and nap the whole way {as an experienced flyer with babies I have tips for this}.  There are ways to bring cloth diapers with you if you are so inclined.  I’ve snuck an entire stash of diapers inside of my carseat which was bagged up and checked.  If you need to pack cloth diapers in your luggage consider sticking to enough for 1.5 days and washing frequently.  Extend your stash by using All-in-Two’s and lots of extra soaker pads, or ultra compact flats with 4-6 covers.

As for washing your diapers, flats make the best choice because they work better even if your destination has a different water.  They can easily be washed in your hotel bathroom tub or washer and hung to dry over shower racks and even the luggage caddy that most every hotel room has.  If you are staying with family you may want to check that washing your diapers there is OK (some people might balk at the idea).

Car Travel-  If you are packing the family into the car you have an obvious advantage because you control the space and will likely be able to fit an entire stash of diapers into your car.  From experience I would recommend sticking to the basics of your stash if you are washing while away.  If you plan on washing when you return home then by all means bring every diaper you have.  To those washing while away save the space in your luggage for souvenirs and only take 2 days worth.

Camping- I can’t speak from experience on camping and using cloth diapers.  I defintely know it can be done and would suggest a small stash of flats and covers.  Flat cloth diapers can pack small and be handwashed while camping.

Other options:

Hybrid cloth diapers that will work with disposable inserts are a way to either thicken your stash while you are away, save the day when you get too busy to wash diapers and run out, or can be used full time inside of your covers or shells to make your packing load lighter and your vacation a little more convenient.

Use a Diaper Service on longer trips and leave all of your diapers at home!  I’ve done this twice myself while attending a conference with a nursling in tow.  Once in Las Vegas and once in Louisville Kentucky.  Both diaper services were happy to work with me and both also received extra business while offering the service to other attendees.  Win/Win.  They dropped off a large bag of clean prefolds and a diaper pail/bag to my hotel and I met them or left the bags at the desk for them when my trip was done.  You’dd have to diaper your baby from home to the hotel and back but for the rest of your trip you are will be worry free and waste free too!  Find a list of diaper services on Real Diaper Industry Association or simply use a search engine for your destination’s city.

Should you cloth diaper while away from home?  

Most of me says yes.  I’ve done it many, many, many times.  I’ve flown with diapers to Texas and North Carolina a few times each.  I’ve driven my diapers to Massachusetts (3 times, once with 2 babies in diapers), North Carolina, and various weekend trips around NY State.  Then I’ve used a diaper service in Las Vegas and Louisville.

I’ve also used hybrid systems and on one occasion, have used disposables exclusively on one trip.  I much prefer to travel with cloth and have made it work for almost every trip we have taken as a family.  That being said, I do understand that we moms tend to make life harder on ourselves sometimes and if a weekend away from diaper laundry while on vacation is what you crave you are entitled to that!  Cloth diapering families are vastly reducing the waste being left by their children.  I do feel guilt when the occasional disposable on a trip or at night is used but I try to put this into perspective.  If only disposables were used for these occasions by everyone then they would be fulfilling their original purpose!

I’ll leave you with my “Expert Tips” for traveling with cloth diapers.

  • Pack only what you need.  I stick to about 15 diapers worth, 1 Large wet bag and 2 medium for the diaper bag.
  • Remember to bring your own detergent and a way to measure it!
  • Cloth wipes and water from the sink.  Or your disposable wipes.
  • If you are handwashing pack latex gloves.
  • Diapers pack smaller if you pack the inserts seperatesly from the shells.  Pre-stuffed diapers take up more room.
  • Be aware that your destination might have a different water type and this could afect your wash routine.
  • To prepare for packing your diapers consider having hybrids or a disposable on hand to put on while washing the last load.  If you will be gone longer than 5 days you don’t want to leave one last dirty diaper at home to be washed before you leave.
  • If you have to cloth diaper until the last moment before leaving home toss that final dirty diaper or two in the washer and run a rinse with a bit of detergent just so it isn’t growing mushrooms before you get home.
  • My best piece of advice: be realistic with yourself.  Try to do cloth diapers if you desire but if you just can’t make it work logistically then use plan b or a mixture of plan a and plan b.

Other posts about traveling with cloth diapers:

Cloth Diapering at a Home Away From Home (my recent post on KellyWels.com about cloth diapering while living with family)

Roadtrippin’ With 2 Kid and Cloth Diapers

Roadtrippin’ With 2 Kids and Cloth Diapers Pt. 2

Last Minute Trip to Texas (and packed cloth)

Traveling With Cloth Diapers (with map of travels)

Using a Diaper Service on trip to Las Vegas

This post is part of the Real Diaper Week BlogHop hosted by The Eco Chic.  Visit her blog to see the other entries for today.  Don’t forget that the Great Cloth Diaper Change is this Saturday.  Help set a World Record for most cloth diapers changed simultaneously.  I’ll be in Charlotte, NC!

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.
  • http://twitter.com/abubblylife Laurel

    Great post!! I traveled in October & I could not do laundry where I was staying, so it was the one time I used disposables (cept when she was small newborn).  Poop blowouts ruined so many outfits.  So one great thing about traveling with disposables, I actually learned to appreciate cloth more, lol!

    Also, the space bags are awesome to save space in your suitcase, add the diapers- suck the air out and you can have a hefty stash with you!

    • Anonymous

      My concern with those is that most people will travel to places without a vacuum. So unless you hunt down the hotel housekeeper and ask them so suck out the air they will never fit back the way you pack them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ms.destries Jacqueline Lopes

        I use space bags all the time and I’ve never used my vacuum. I just sit on them and let the air escape, it’s way more fun lol

      • rcemre

        You can roll them, too, starting at the end opposite the valve, and it gets almost all the air out!

  • Lindsaygray7

    Great topic to post on! We traveled to the beach back in February. It was our first trip with a 2 month old in cloth. We went from NC to SC, which wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t able to launder my dips while away (hotel washers & dryers make me nervous haha), but I packed every pocket or AIO that I had. I also packed a few perfumes with covers, just in case! I never thought of separating the inserts from the pocket diapers to save space, so thank you! I also need to invest in a large wet bag, I only have 2 mediums and I def ran into issues with that on the trip!!! I had so many different bags just for my baby for a trip, so I was thinking of getting a clear tubberware box big enough to fit all my cloth and cloth accessories in, bu small enough to still have space for our travel bags. Should work for us, there’s only 3 of us!

  • Julie

    I’m new to cloth diapers. What do you mean when you mention the water might affect the way you wash? I’m traveling to Mexico. Any info will help. Thanks!

  • Amanda Scoggins

    What about poo?! I tried to CD while visiting my parents for about 10 days, I found poo with no diaper sprayer to be too much of an issue for me. Is there a technique I am missing? I have had a sprayer since she hit solids so maybe I am just spoiled and don’t know how to really clean a poo diaper without one? Also, I found I had leaky diapers partway through the trip and will now be stripping when we get home :/ for me a week maybe wasn’t worth a new wash routine. I love cloth and tell everyone how awesome they are, but I think this trip has been my first cloth fail :/

  • Crystal Cousino

    wow thanks so much for this post! I travel with my son to the grandparents often and stay for 2-3 days at a time, and I NEVER thought to pack the inserts and shells separate until I got there to take up less space!! I always had the pockets stuffed and ready to go and they take up so much room. Total *DUHHHH* moment for me :) haha!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ms.destries Jacqueline Lopes

    We recently stayed out of town for a couple of days on a road trip. I have husband, a 10 month old, 3 year old, and a Ford Focus… I thought about bringing cloth diapers but I didn’t think about it long. We didn’t have much room, I didn’t want to have to bring back a bag of dirty diapers to wash when I got home, we were going somewhere cold with snow, which meant more layers of clothes so I didn’t want to have to diaper change as often, and most importantly, it was a VACATION which we very rarely get. I just wanted and a break and frankly after doing nothing but cloth at home the other 363 days of a year, I felt like I earned it! Shopping for disposables wasn’t fun, I felt a little weird having to spend money on them lol My son is potty trained but on a road trip and sleeping in a strange place I didn’t want to take chances. He would have been a size 6, my daughter a size 4. We ended up buying a small package of size 5 diapers and it ended up working just fine. Kudos to moms that bring cloth on their vacations, but I enjoyed my guilty pleasure of a break ;-)

  • Amanda G

    I never thought of using a diaper service while away from home when I don’t have a washer- like at a hotel. That’s a great idea! I like the idea of using flats for camping but I’ve never used flats and honestly they intimidate me a bit as I’m just now getting used to CDing with pocket style. I’m determined to keep using cloth even while we travel because my babes skin is a ton healthier than when she was in disposable diapers!

  • Marta

    I am definitely going to use cloth during camping. The summer is approaching Alaska quickly and we do spend almost every weekend camping here when its warm. I have lots of flower sack towels And many muslin woven flats from my native country ( these are thin, very absorbent and soft, fast line drying) and bought a few new covers. I am so excited !!!! Thank you for all your tips and the list.


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