- Oct 30, 2016
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Travelling with Cloth Diapers
Really? Why would you want to do that?
By: Amy Fong
I used to think I could not do it (and hence we travelled with disposable diapers for our first child while using cloth diapers the rest of the time), but after having our second kid we decided to give travelling with cloth a go! In fact, now that we have experienced travelling with disposables and cloth, we actually prefer travelling with cloth diapers. We saved ourselves from having to deal with the runny blow-outs that we often got while using disposable diapers. We missed out on the stench that emanated from the used disposable diapers in our receptacle bin until housecleaning came to take out the trash. We loved that we were making an effort to avoid generating trash in the places in which we were travelling, and we enjoyed sticking to the same system that our baby was comfortable and familiar with using at home.
We’ve travelled to many different places, all while exclusively using cloth diapers--whether we are on multi-day road trips, tent camping, on a cruise ship, staying in remote alpine lodges, visiting Disneyland, or on a 17 hour flight. Here are some tips to help make cloth diapering easier, no matter your travel situation:
Research your laundry options before you go. Call your accommodation and ask if they have laundry facilities. If not, then find out if there is a laundromat nearby or consider whether there is an option to visit a laundromat during your trip. Laundry is often accessible in situations that you might not expect. I was surprised to learn that our cruise ship had a guest laundry room, and that a private resort not far from our campground had a coin-operated laundry machine which they were happy to let campers use. Since making the most of your time is important while on vacation, try to fit in doing laundry when it makes the most sense for your itinerary. For example, you could consider doing laundry during dinnertime so that your family can enjoy a meal at a nearby restaurant while your load is running at the laundromat.
Pack just enough diapers, but not too many. We were generally able to cram about 3 days worth of cloth diapers into our standard size diaper bag. If you run out of diapers before you are able to get to a laundry machine, which happened to us when we had longer stretches in places without laundry access, you can hand wash a few diapers to stretch out your supply. You can also repurpose flannel receiving blankets, t-shirts and other absorbent materials to use as diapers.
Consider drying time when choosing which diapers to pack. Prefolds, flats, flannel receiving blankets and cotton tea towels are ideal for travel since they can be stuffed into pocket diapers or laid inside reusable covers, and are fairly easy to hand wash and take relatively little time to dry.
Bring absorbent boosters. We found that we generally had to go longer between changes when we were on the move. To ensure that we had enough absorbency to last between changes, we added an extra cotton, bamboo, or hemp booster to each diaper.
Remember your wet bags. A few small portable wet bags will help contain your dirty diapers and seal in their smell until you are able to wash them.
Bring liners. Liners save the messes from contacting the diaper, and make it easier to toss the poop into the nearest toilet.
Don’t rule out using full-service laundromats. We vacationed for a couple weeks in Hong Kong, where guest laundry facilities and self-service laundromats are scarce. However, full-service laundromats were everywhere – there were no less than four on the block where we were staying. We did a quick rinse of the wet diapers in our sink before dropping them off along with our regular laundry at a full-service laundromat in the morning. Everything was clean, dry and neatly folded by the end of the day, and the service was fairly inexpensive (not much more than using a self-service laundromat). It couldn’t have been easier.
Pack some laundry detergent. While laundromats often have laundry detergent available for purchase, the options are generally limited. If you would prefer to use the detergent that you normally use at home, pack a small amount in your travel bag. It will also come in handy for handwashing your diapers in a sink or tub.
I had every intention to take pictures of our cloth diapers on our vacations so that I could document what we did in different travel situations for a blog article. However, cloth diapering while travelling was so inconsequential that taking these pictures slipped my mind – there were, of course, more significant and exciting things to shoot pictures of while travelling. Hopefully these tips will help you succeed in making cloth diapering a part of your travels too!
Amy Fong is circle leader of the Real Diaper Circle for Metro Vancouver, mom of 2 kids, and a full-time practising lawyer. In her volunteer time she enjoys helping to share the benefits of cloth diapering by teaching cloth diapering workshops and organizing cloth diapering loan packages for families in need.