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Cloth Diapers and Travel Tips

April 11, 2013 6 min read

Guest post by Tanya, Director of Marketing at Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique


Are you a cloth diapering parent overwhelmed at the thought of cloth diapers and travel? Take a deep breath and dig in with us for a few minutes. There are lots of options to make it a breeze!

A Personal Story: Cloth Diapers Save the Day

I will give this little story as a bit of encouragement for deciding to CD on your trip.  I once took the train from Raleigh, NC to Orlando, FL with my –at the time- 3 kids (I now have 5 kids), my husband and my parents.  I had dreams of Bing Crosby singing about snow in the dining car and a wonderful, glorious ride down to Walt Disney World.  The train ride was supposed to be 10.5 hours, boarding at 9pm and arriving in the morning for a magical day at Disney, right? Wrong.

We were on that train (due to many complications) for over 25 hours.  At one point the bathrooms were out of service, we had no more food in that romantic dining car and they had to truck in boxed sandwiches. We even lost air conditioning.  Do you know what else every parent on that train ran out of?  You guessed it -diapers.  I had parents offering to buy diapers off of me at an insane price, and once they got to Disney they had to buy diapers there for an even higher price.  The fact that I had cloth diapers that even in the worst case scenario I could have rinsed out in the sink and reused made my situation so much better.  We resorted to hand towels and covers first but still you see my meaning- cloth diapers mean you are never “out” of diapers, even on the road.

 Short Trips (Anything from a long day trip to a few days out of town)

Short trips usually means travel by car and the thought of CDing in that situation can be so overwhelming. Let’s break it down bit by bit.  Here are a few tips to make it seem more manageable:Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.30.10 PM

  • Use flushable liners. Every time you stop to use the bathroom or eat, change your baby and flush the liner. It will keep the stink out of your car and make washing when you get home much easier.
  • Waiting up to 3 days to wash will not be the end of the world. You and your diapers will be ok, but I do suggest pre-rinses and all washes to be in HOT water.  Have your washing machine all ready to dump all your diapers in and wash once you get home.
  • Have a clean wet bag for clean diapers, a large wet bag for dirty diapers and a backup.
  • Have some clean, ready-to-use diapers at home waiting for you upon your return.
  • Have a box of cloth wipes and a peri bottle full of wipes solution in the box and ready for use.  I also like a backup peri bottle of solution because you do a lot of hand wiping when on the road.
  • Use an extra booster and ideally, a good wool cover, when actually driving to avoid compression leaks.


This is one of those times when everyone is like, is it really that big of a deal to just use disposables for the day? I say, why?  You already have your diapers and with a little planning you can use them even when flying.

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.32.02 PMHere are some flying with CD tips:

  • Again I can not stress enough to use liners.  It means that the diapers you have with you will not stink up the plane!
  • Bring wipes you have already wet ahead of time to avoid the “unknown” liquid issue.  Water works just fine in a pinch.
  • Keep the bulk down… trim diapers I like are bumGenius Elementals and Flip diapers.  You can even use covers and disposable inserts and then the only bulk you have to carry out will be covers.  You may go through more covers though because disposable inserts tend to leak on the covers more.
  • On long flights consider a compression plastic bag to keep the dirty diapers in to help keep space and stink down.
  • Pack your carry-on with your day’s worth of diapers. Even if you have a short flight, pack a whole day’s worth. You will be glad if you end up delayed somewhere.

Long Trips

Long-term trips and cloth diapering are dependent on one thing.  Where to wash.  That is the question.  We have gone over short trips and flying so you know how to get to your long term destination, but once you have been there a few days how do you wash them?  Here are a few tips to make this journey possible with cloth diapers EVEN if you don’t have a washing machine:Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.34.52 PM

  • Is there an echo in the room?  LINERS- use them, your friends and family will likely embrace your washing diapers in their machine if you use a liner and thus avoid the stray pinto bean or raisin left in the machine.
  • You only need 2 days worth of diapers plus a few spares while washing.
  • Again, have some ready to use waiting at home for you so you aren’t in a rush to wash those dirty ones you toted back with you. When you do wash them use all HOT settings for all rinse and wash cycles.
  • Pre-measure your detergent into snack bags so all you have to do is dump your diaper and dump your soap to wash.  *If you are flying it’s best to just pack a new bag to avoid issue of unknown powdery substances.
  • I pack my wipes solution in either a mason jar for long vacations or in a shaker bottle (protein shaker type bottles) for easy refilling of my peri  bottle when needed.  *Again when flying I would pack a new bottle in my checked luggage.
  • Wash diapers on site – either in your room, or the laundry room on site or your friends’ or family’s washing machine.
  • Ask the hotel to wash your diapers- they often will and your diapers will come out just fine.  Call ahead and ask them if they will do this for you.
  • Ask a local service if they can pick them up for you and wash them for you while visiting.
  • Go to the laundry mat… don’t knock it! Really – all of your wash is done very fast at one time and you can come home with clean clothes to unpack instead of dirty and wash your diapers too.

Camping or Travel in a Developing Country

Yes, I have cloth diapered 2 babies while camping and yes, it was easy.  In these situations I strongly suggest prefolds.  Everyone should own a set of prefolds in my opinion anyway.  They serve SO many purposes, they are like the duct tape of cloth diapering.  Prefolds are easy to wash AND dry- even by hand and they make great boosters, burp cloths, towels for spills and even nice carseat and sheet savers in a pinch.  When in many third world countries disposable diapers end up in waterways and rivers and when camping you often have to either haul a dirty diaper out with you or to a trash can far away. CDing in times like these is truly the best thing to do.  Here is what worked for us:Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.37.10 PM

  • Prefolds – like I said easy to wash and dry, low on bulk and they have MANY uses.
  • Snappis – ever try changing a diaper at night in a dark tent?  Well if you have you know that pins are not going to cut it. Use a snappi and bring a few extra.
  • Covers – covers are key here and I did not use wool. Shocking, I know, but air drying and hiking are a hard combo so I used thirsties duo covers in Velcro.  They worked great, even at night.  They have a gusset and they are easily adjustable when you are in a hurry or in the dark.  They also air dry very well and if you run out, wash them quickly by hand and hang them up to dry.
  • I did use liners and I did flush them of bury them in a hole when we were backpacking.  Yes, they do break down.
  • I used a zipper pouch with wipes to cut back on bulk and I used my handy peri bottle with a locking lid for wipes solution. Water works too. (BTW LuSa is my fav solution.)
  • I did bring a small baggie with detergent just in case, but never needed it.
  • One large zipper wet bag for dirty diapers, one large zipper bag for clean and two small for walking to the bathrooms for changing or dumping, etc.  The car ride home was not stinky, but I dump all our solids thanks to the liners.

So, are you ready to take a trip?  Traveling and cloth diapering doesn’t have to be daunting, but it does require some planning.  I’d love to hear about others who have traveled and how they fared. Please share your stories and what you learned for the next trip! Any questions not addressed here? Happy diapering!

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