Traveling with Cloth Diapers

One of the biggest questions (or shall we call it fears) families have who are considering or starting with cloth diapers is travelling. Whether you are taking a day trip to the city or a week long roadtrip across 5 states it can be a very daunting task. Since I started cloth diapering I have done many a day trips (easy peasy), but have only traveled a couple of times. Once to Texas and once to Japan, and (gasp) I did not use cloth diapers for either trip.

I visited my in-laws in Texas last October for ten days and did not bring cloth diapers for three reasons. 1. I traveled with only a carry-on bag, because I was travelling alone with the baby and already had checked in a car seat and stroller. 2. They won’t say it to my face, but my in-laws think I’m a crazy hippy when it comes to my cloth diapering, thus, I did not have access to a washer/dryer while I was there. 3. I did not have a car to go to a laundry mat while I was there, even if I had checked in more luggage to bring my cloth diapers with me.

Then my trip to visit my family Japan…The same criteria of having limited space in my luggage was the main reason I did not do cloth on this trip. If my husband was with us I would have LOVED to bring cloth diapers in our check-in luggage to use while we were in Japan. We would have used disposables for the plane travel (I will be frank: You do NOT want to travel across the world with dirty duds and who knows what the customs will do. My biggest fear….confiscate them!). So I plan on bringing cloth with us our next trip to see my family if we plan on staying at least ten days, to make it worth the luggage space. I always have so many goodies and gifts I bring back from my visits and the airlines keep raking up the fees for extra bags. Not cool!

Alright so here is my survival guide for travelling with cloth diapers in general:

These can be a breeze. I recommend bringing:
*One (1) zippered wetbag in a size medium or large for dirty duds (the zipper will help contain odors and you won’t be forced to drive with the windows down).
*5-6 clean diapers per child for an 8 hour period (adjust as needed depending how long you will be gone as well as the age and wetting patterns of your child).
*Some wipes (1.5 wipes per diaper you bring. No, don’t bring half a wipe if you’re only jotting to the store, this is just a ratio I recommend for how many extras to bring for BMs).
*If you are bringing disposable wipes you will need a baggy for trash.
*If you are bringing cloth wipes I recommend bringing a small travel spray wipes solution and dirty wipes go right in the wetbag with the diapers! Another alternative is to bring a stack of moist wipes in a small zippered wetbag.
*Hand sanitizer

Now just throw them in the wash with the rest of your diapers that evening or the next day, depending on your wash schedule!

Overnight and Long Distance Travel
This takes a little more effort and planning on your part, but can be well worth it depending where you are traveling, how and for what duration.

First you need to make sure you have access to a washer (dryer optional, you can always line dry). Access doesn’t mean that you know your Aunt Holly HAS a washer in her home, but make sure she is comfortable with you using it for cloth diapers. Some people are very funny about it as I’m sure many of you have already experienced. Don’t have access where you are staying? Look up nearby laundry mats and make sure you have quarters or cash for the machines.

Second, make sure you have enough space in your luggage or car to bring a sufficient number of diapers and that you will be able to wash them every 2-3 days. This also means calculating if you plan on bringing anything back on your trip.You will also need to plan ahead to make sure you have enough clean diapers to travel home with, and if you’re on a plane you won’t want any dirty duds, make sure to have some disposables for the airport.

Lastly, if you really don’t think that travelling with cloth is feasible for you, don’t worry. You can either choose to do half cloth and half disposables (great if you have limited luggage space) or just do disposables for the trip. You are doing a great things for your children and environment by cloth diapering the rest of the year, I surely won’t think any less of you if you choose not to travel with cloth. Can it be done? YES! But as you read above, I think that it is the most important to make the right decision for your circumstances and sometimes that means a few days of ‘sposies.

Stay tuned….now that my hubby’s home I am determined to bring cloth on our next trip! Don’t worry, I will be sure to blog about it.

Have you traveled with cloth or what are your fears about travelling with cloth? Comment below!

Read about other mamas experiences and tips on how to travel with cloth diapers. Head on over to Dirty Diaper Laundry (our lovely hostess) to read her article and click on all of the other articles on the McLinky at the bottom of her post!

{If you enjoyed reading Traveling with Cloth Diapers I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. I traveled to Costa Rica and was going to be in a rural area for 3+ weeks where I was not sure I would be able to get diapers.
    We were staying at lodge in the jungle so I emailed them and they said they could send sposies on the daily boat, if we could not get them in town and they had no problem letting me wash cloth diapers. So we did a combination sposies/cloth while were there.
    Since I did not know what kind of detergant/washer they would have it was recomended that I take prefolds so I bought some cheap on craigs list. I took 8 prefolds and 3 covers to cloth diaper partime on my 6 month old son.

    At home I CD with mostly pockets part time (he is so chunky that clothes barely fit him in a sposie let alone with cloth so when we go out we usually use a sposie. Also with a toddler and part-time work, it is all I have time for.).

    So I talked to the cleaning lady on the first day we were there (or I should say my husband did as he speaks more spanish) and she said no problem they would wash them. I said that I would but I guess in the jungle they have so many problems with washing machines they don't want to let others use them. So she had small kids too and said not a problem to wash the cloth diapers.
    So I put my son in cloth and we went through our 8 prefolds (I only brought 8 because of luggage room and weight). Then I gave them to the cleaning lady and she said there was a problem the washer was broken. But said her mom would wash them by hand for me. I felt horrible but at least they were all pee ones. They washed and dried them and gave them back the next day. I then used sposies until the washer was fixed then we went back to using the prefolds. At the end of the trip I gave them to one of the cleaning ladies who had a sister that needed them. This was my plan all along to leave them there. We also left baby/toddler clothes etc. because they have only 2 grocery stores in this town and little access to things like clothes/books/toys/medical supplies/etc.
    Also I was able to buy sposies in the town but at about 50 cents a piece so I was glad to help a mama out that had very little income and leave the cloth diapers that only cost me $1.00 per diaper (the cost of 2 sposies). They potty train their children very early there!

  2. We usually don't travel with cloth, but each time we put our 14 month old in disposables for an extended period he gets a rash. I don't like having to find a place to do laundry or packing dirty diapers around, but I feel so bad when my lil' guu gets a rash.

  3. Great article Emi…

    Roar…what an inspirational story for other CD mamma's out there! That was a challenging trip and you made it work. I especially LOVE how you left stuff behind for the moms in the area! You rock!

  4. Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? says:

    Thanks for this post.

  5. heather@it'stwinsanity says:

    I just got back from a cross-country trip from GA to VA to TX to AZ to CO and back to VA. And I've never bought a disposie in my life! I have found ways to wash on the road, wetbags that are super-sized, and creative ways to pack and store diapers, wipes, and even a diaper pail. I wrote a post about it a few months ago because people always ask me how I do it too. It's not as hard as some people might think!

  6. Great post! I am leaving on a short holiday soon and it was good to hear that it can be done!

  7. I just had a conversation with someone about traveling with cloth diapers. I too posted for the Cloth diaper carnival ( I have alwasy brought all of my cloth diapers and had a washing machine to wash them.

    The conversation I had with someone was about they fact that pre-folds and pins can really come in handy when traveling with cloth. Not only are the prefolds much less bulky, but they are easy to wash too. The woman I was talking with even suggested that they can be washed by hand in a tub or sink. I don't use pre-folds, but this sounded to me like a great inexpensive way to travel and still use cloth. Also, if they confiscated a bunch of prefolds it wouldn't be so bad…haha!

  8. I always do day trips with cloth too. When we just started I thought I would use disposables, but after completely falling in love with cloth and a rash free bum I would never consider disposables again! We have never traveled long distance with them though. That's my fear. But with finances I don't think that'll even happen until all the kids are out of diapers!

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