I spend 80-90% of my time traveling and living in various places around the world for weeks or months in each place with my fourteen month old, and use cloth diapers about 95% of the time. Especially when we were in India for a month where there is no garbage collection, I felt much better about using some water rather than dumping over 300 disposable diapers (10 diapers per day x 30 days) in the trash that would end up a block down in the river that is quickly becoming a stinking garbage pit. As long as I have access to a washer (no dryer is needed), or laundry service, I pack my cloth diapers with us for the journey.
When I begin packing for a long journey, I pack enough cloth diapers to last two to three days and nights, as I will plan on washing the cloth diapers usually every other day. For our fourteen month old who goes through less than 10 diapers per day, we pack about 25- 30 cloth diapers in our suitcase. When she was younger than six months and going through more diapers, we packed closer to 30-35 diapers with us and did the wash more frequently. When I travel to humid places such as southern India where I also have no dryer, I pack 5-10 extra cloth diaper inserts which take longer to dry on a line outside than the cloth diaper shells that dry rather quickly. (For more on washing see How To Wash Cloth Diapers In A Foreign Country)
I also pack as many cloth wipes as diapers plus 5-10 extra, a few rolls of flushable diaper liners that will last me the trip, and two large cloth diaper bags for dirty diapers. I personally like the diaper bags that have handles on the top to hang anywhere I am, with zippered bottoms that I can easily unzip to dump all of the dirty diapers and wipes into the washing machine. Lastly, I pack along as much dry powdered laundry detergent for cloth diapers as I will need for the duration of my trip. I have not yet attempted making my own homemade detergent while overseas, but that is an option I would like to explore to save on luggage space in the future.
I have not yet ventured into packing cloth diapers for two babies; however, I have given this a lot of thought about what I will do once I am at that point. First, using one-size fits all cloth diapers will be essential. If one baby is using more or less than the other baby/ toddler, there will be a spare option to adjust to the correct size. I will probably opt for packing enough diapers for one and a half days between the two babies, planning on doing the wash each day, which will be about 30-40 diapers total, plus an extra 10-15 inserts, particularly if there is no dryer where I will be traveling.
Although cloth diapers, extra inserts, and liners, and bags don’t add much weight to a checked bag, they can start to take up a lot of space. Many international airline carriers only allow one free checked bag for each passenger (including baby) at 23kg (50 pounds), so space and weight comes at a premium. To save on space, I pack all the bulky cloth items (diapers, inserts, bags) into an extra-large sized compression sack which squeezes everything down to half to third the size it would otherwise take up, leaving valuable space in baby’s checked bag for toys, books, and clothes.
For more on traveling with cloth diapers or traveling with babies, please visit my blog: www.gypsymomma.com.