How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Long Travel

February 9, 2012

Travel, Washing

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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.


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About Jessica Menon

I’m a mom with a fourteen month old, Veda, and I travel internationally for work frequently. Although my husband and I have a home in Chicago, we spend 80 to 90% of our time traveling out of the country. I am not a medical doctor or expert of any kind; I am just a mom with lots of experience traveling internationally to developing countries while pregnant and with an infant/ toddler. I personally find that breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and the Dr. Sears attachment parenting approach works best for us. That means I do my best to ensure I am emotionally and physically connecting with my baby, and that I respond to the unique needs of my baby, and not to a schedule or clock. This works really well for me and my family, and I find it is especially compatible with international travel, which requires flexibility, adaptation, and mutual understanding with my child.

View all posts by Jessica Menon

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10 Responses to “How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Long Travel”

  1. Ana Says:

    Hi,

    I have 8 months old boy baby. I am new to cloth diapers. how to choose the cloth diaper which i can atleast use for next 6 months. I am not able to figure out which size will best fit him. Any thoughts ?

    Reply

  2. Gypsy Momma Says:

    Hi Ashley,

    Yes, we’ve sometimes opted for using disposables on trips like that where you’re moving around constantly without a dryer (or washer), so it makes it a bit tough. I have before washed my diapers and put them in a wet bag and hug them up to dry right away when I arrived somewhere new (if you have a washer), but they will get mildewy if left too long, so it has to be quick. Otherwise you could consider using a hybrid version with disposable/ compostable inserts (like the gdiaper) for trips like that where you can more easily handwash the covers and just toss/ flush the inserts.

    Reply

  3. Brandi Elam Says:

    I’m so interested in your travels! Will definitely be checking out your blog!

    Reply

  4. Jamie Richards Says:

    I have traveled in the us and taken cloth w me. I uasually put them in the hanging wet bag. I check my car seat in a car seat bag which has extra room in it so i put the diaoers in there. Car seats are free to check.i uasually stay w familt and wash there. I try to bring as many as i can so i dont wash too often. I also use sposies on the plane due to may unforseen outcomes. Delays cancellations. They are lighter and can be left on awhile longer. I carry a lot of sposies on the plane because if you get stuck in an airport for a day they dont have diapers there for you. Then i have the extra sposies for the trip if i run out of cloth. Hasent happend yet.

    Reply

    • Jessica Menon Says:

      Hi Jamie, I haven’t used sposies before- that seems like it might be a great option for bringing along for long trips/ plane rides. I’ll have to check that out. I have definitely used the extra space in the car seat bag before for random things :).

      Reply

  5. Ashley (@GreekWifeLife) Says:

    We are headed to Greece for a week and had sadly decided to use disposables for the the trip. Our thinking was that we’d only be in each place for a night or two and it would be hard to dry our cloth without dryers if they needed to be packed up to get to the next city. Any thoughts?

    Reply

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