Can You Really Travel With Cloth Diapers?

It’s a given that you use spousies when you travel with a baby.

That’s what we did most of the time with our older three, even though we were super duper into the whole cloth diaper thing.

But why can’t you travel with cloth? Since Descartes tells us we have to examine all of our beliefs, reject our assumptions, and follow only what we can verify is certain, I’ve decided to reject the idea that you can’t travel with cloth diapers.

You can.

I’ve taken Leone on one long car trip — for an assignment in Gold Beach, Oregon — and traveled twice by airplane — to New York City and Chicago — using only cloth diapers (and elimination communication).

Traveling with cloth definitely takes advanced planning (which is a problem since we’re going to L.A. tomorrow and I haven’t packed or even reserved a rental car yet) but it’s really not that hard or inconvenient.

We’ll have to save car trips for another post (sorry Mama Em!).

Here’s what you need to travel by plane with cloth:
A dozen or so (more is better) pre-folds and 2 diaper covers for each day that you won’t be doing laundry: Though AIOs are great for home, they tend to be bulkier and not as convenient for travel.
A wet bag for the wet and soiled diapers: two is a good idea but we only own one.
An extra bag for when you run out of space in the wet bag
A plan to do a load of laundry: if you’re going to be gone for awhile, you’ll need to take a trip to the laundry mat with the baby. I actually did laundry twice in New York City, where we spent six days.

How you pack is key.

Now that airlines are charging for ANY checked bags, pack carefully enough so nothing is checked.

I carry the following:
A rolly luggage that fits in the overhead bin

A huge over-the-shoulder diaper (and everything else) bag
A stroller: this doubles as a luggage cart and is gate checked
A baby on my back in a soft Ergo Baby carrier

I use packing cubes and roll my clothes, squinching them down with rubber bands.

Grown-ups need to pack very light so there’s space for the diapers: This is key if you don’t want to check anything. For these trips I only bring the pair of jeans and clothes I wear on the plane plus one fitted work skirt and a pair of tights, two work tops that both match the skirt, undies, one bra, socks, toiletries, pjs, and only one pair of shoes (black flats) that are comfortable enough to walk in and dressy enough to pass for “business casual.”

The rolly luggage contains:

A packing cube with my clothes

A packing cube with the baby’s clothes

A large packing cube with all of the diapers we’ll use when we get there

Toiletries in a pouch in the outside pocket for easy access through security screening

The over-the-shoulder bag (I actually use a huge shopping bag that my friend made for me. It worked perfectly) contains:

A small cube (or you can use a Ziplock bag) with two full changes of baby clothes all rolled and rubberbanded for the inevitable spit-ups and blow-out poops.

Enough food for a ravenous nursing mother to survive 12 hours of plane changes and flying.

A packing cube full of diapers to use on the plane: I think I put ten in here since I’m sort of obsessive about changing Leone whenever she’s wet.

A book to read on the plane when the baby’s sleeping (only either she won’t sleep or you won’t be able to get the book out).

A journal
Boarding passes

A gift for your host, which you buy at the last minute during a lay-over.

You also need an over-the-shoulder purse with your money, cell phone, and government-issued ID.

What about when the baby poops?
On the plane, during take-off! Clean the poop out in the sink or toilet, as appropriate, wring out the diaper, roll it tightly, and put it in your wet bag to deal with later.

Once you arrive you will either do laundry or you can clean the diaper more thoroughly by hand with a little bit of hand soap and hang it out to dry.

What about the babysitter, friend, or cousin who is watching the baby while you give a presentation and has never SEEN a cloth diaper?

You give them a crash course, ignore the perplexed look on their face, and they deal as best they can.

Just be sure to rinse the baby (who will of course poop when you aren’t there) a second time to avoid diaper rash. Poor Leone got a little rashy because the nice young student in Illinois who changed her diaper did not clean in the rolls of thigh fat.

What did I forget? Does this sound like something you could do? If you’ve never traveled with cloth are you ready to try? If you do travel with cloth, what other tips do you have?


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on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 4:32 pm and is filed under cloth diapers.
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