In our daughter’s first year, we visited 4 countries, almost a dozen cities, and had been on several flights, and multi-hour, 10-day long road-trips. We’d stayed in campgrounds, hotels, luxury resorts and Airbnbs.
And we did it all by traveling with cloth diapers.
Why? 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used and added to the landfill each year in the US alone. So to avoid adding to the damage, we cloth diaper.
Cloth diapering is also:
- Much more affordable
- Easier on your baby’s skin and
- Leads to earlier potty training.
So naturally, in every parent’s quest to minimize the amount of times you’re pooped, peed and vomited on, we brought our stash of cloth with us.
Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering on the Go
So, we know we can travel with cloth diapers. But now that we’ve done it, should you?
We’ll answer that with a pros and cons list, but start by saying that we did it for Poppy’s first year and we’re glad we did (if only because it made us able to write this article!). But now that we’re more seasoned travelers with a busy toddler, we’ve agreed to use disposables on our next trip (eco-friendly of course).
|Pros of Traveling with Cloth Diapers||Cons of Traveling with Cloth Diapers|
|Easier on your baby’s skin||Time spent doing laundry/in laundromats|
|More comfortable for your baby on long trips and flights||Can foster diaper rash during those times you can’t change your baby right away (airport security checks, etc)|
|Limits where you can stay (need a laundromat)|
|You have to bring a lot more “stuff”|
If you’re still leaning toward bringing cloth, we got you. Here’s our quickstart guide on how to travel with cloth.
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need to Bring?
You don’t have to bring your whole stash of cloth diapers on your trip with you.
Instead, bring about 3 days worth. How many that ends up being really depends on your baby and how you use your diapers.
- Newborn: 8 diapers per day = 24 diapers
- 4-8 months: 6 diapers per day = 18 diapers
- 8-16 months: 5 diapers per day = 15 diapers
We re-used covers with a new insert (unless the cover ended up gross). So, the above list is how many inserts we’d bring on our trips. We’d bring about half that many covers.
Yup, that means you have to carry around at least a couple of days of dirty diapers on your trip with you. This isn’t too bad if you’re in one spot. It becomes annoying when you’re on the go from city to city. We’ve always found that the smell is contained in your waterproof diaper bag, though.
Since our daughter was sleep trained we’ve always used a biodegradable, gentle disposable at night so we did have to bring some disposables.
Once the inserts or covers get low, we head to the laundromat (on our way out for dinner or if we had something to do that would take a couple of hours).
Which Cloth Diapers to Bring While Traveling
We primarily use an “all-in-two” system whereby there’s two pieces: an insert and a cover. That way we could reuse the covers easily (since the insert collects most of the pee, with little seepage [most times] into the cover material.
Give it a try if you’re inclined, it really stretches what you can do with your stash and saves you time and money.
What Do You Do With the Gross Dirty Diapers?
We also have a wet bag.
On trips, we’ve brought both our travel wet bag and our full sized one (travel for day trips/diaper changes on hikes, full-sized for all-the-time bulk storage).
If you get a wet bag meant for cloth diapers, they trap in the smell excellently and you can just dump the bag in the wash with the diapers.
When your stash is getting low, head to a laundromat or book at an Airbnb, which was nice break from camping or a hotel.
How Do You Wash The Cloth Diapers?
This is a crucial before-you-leave (or even before-you-book) step:
Stay somewhere you have access to laundry.
Laundromats are wildly inconvenient and sometimes even unsafe. If you can help it, stay in an Airbnb or guest house that has in-suite laundry at least every third day, so you can do laundry there.
If you can’t swing it, you could find a laundromat and spend your afternoon washing diapers. We’ve had to do this, and while it’s not ideal, it will work in a pinch.
Where Do You Change Baby?
When I was researching for this article what questions people had about traveling with their babies, I found that a surprising number of people who’d done it mentioned that they’d stop at McDonald’s or a gas station to change diapers if they’re on a road trip.
We neither wanted to let Poppy stew in her dirty diaper for long enough for us to find a McDonald’s, nor actually step foot in that nasty place, so we’d just change her in the car.
Yeah, in the car. Obviously not while it was moving.
We created a handy little change station that we could quickly whip out in the backseat, and changed many a diaper there.
In airports or airplanes, you need the same setup:
- The diaper, obviously.
- Wipes. We have cloth wipes that we’d wet ahead of time and keep in a plastic.
- A good change pad. Waterproof is a must, no fabric. We bought this one just before we left and it worked well for us, but honestly if we were to do it again we’d want a change pad with a place to store wipes because trying to find the wipes in the diaper bag when baby’s on the front seat on the change pad crying is not ideal. Our friends have this one and I have changing pad envy (I can’t believe I just wrote that…)
If you use diaper booster pads on long flights or when you anticipate having difficulty finding a place to change your little one, you can go for longer between changes (up to a few hours). These are truly lifesavers when you cloth diaper!
Traveling with Cloth Diapers: Your Packing List
If you don’t read anything else in this article, read this:
- Diaper covers (15-24)
- Inserts (15-24)
- Biodegradable wipes (1 package)
- Portable changing station
- Biodegradable disposable diapers (1 package)
- ZipLock gallon bags (4-5 bags)
- Cloth diaper laundry detergent
- Wet bag – small
- Wet bag- large
- Diaper booster pads
- Flushable diaper liners
- A large diaper bag to hold everything (backpack diaper bags are best)