Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lessons from Traveling with Cloth Diapers

cartoon-airplaneA couple of weeks ago my parents paid for Elaine and I to visit them in Colorado.  Since we live in Brooklyn, this involved air travel.  Elaine is not yet two, so she travels for free if she sits in my lap.  Traveling with a one year old is challenging enough, but bringing your cloth diapers on the trip can pose another challenge.  Here are some things that I learned from our recent trip, though it wasn’t the first time I traveled with cloth diapers.

Packing Diapers Can Be Pricey

…if you have to pay for your luggage.  It is really helpful if you choose an airline with no baggage fees. We flew Southwest, which allows two free checked bags per person.  Cloth diapers can take up a lot of room, and it was nice to be able to designate a suitcase for them without incurring extra charges.

Hybrids Help

It is a good idea to travel light, and for the cloth diapering parent hybrids make an excellent choice.  We don’t have many hybrids in our stash.  Let me tell you – pocket diapers take up tons of space!  While they are the easiest and quickest to put on your baby, it may be wise to choose a hybrid option so you don’t have to pack as many diapers.  If you just need a couple of covers and a few inserts, you will save space and weight in your packing.  Additionally, with a hybrid system like the Flip diapers, you can even choose to take disposable inserts with you for travel and/or use at your destination.

Bring Your Detergent!

Unless you are visiting a fellow cloth diaperer, you will probably not find a cloth diaper-friendly detergent easily accessible.  I chose to pack a couple of Rockin’ Green sample packages of detergent.  Since I did not bring my entire stash of diapers, I washed every other day.  This is more frequent than I normally wash, so I packed extra detergent just in case.

I Missed My Diaper Sprayer!

On this trip I realized just how much I depend on mydiaper sprayer!  Elaine had several days of loose bm’s upon arrival, and every diaper was a mess to “dunk”.  I didn’t want to end up with staining, but I didn’t like to swish the diapers either!  If your destination is family that you visit often, consider donating a diaper sprayer to them.  It will make your visits easier!

Bring That, Just in Case

I didn’t really pack for anything outside of my “normal” diaper routine.  However, with Elaine’s messy diapers came a horrible, and I mean horrible rash.  She cried at every diaper change, and could barely stand for me to touch her diaper area, much less wipe it clean.  I had not packed many stay-dry liners.  This was a mistake.  Since I brought my diaper rash cream, I should have brought more liners…just in case.  Luckily my mom had some fleece in her sewing basket, and I whipped up several homemade liners.  With the change in diet and routine that every trip brings, you never know how your baby’s “system” will react.  Be prepared…just in case.  I learned that it would have been better to be safe, but I ended up sorry.

Use Disposable Wipes

I try to use as many reusable products as possible in our home.  Cloth wipes fit right in with cloth diapers.  However, for the short time that you will be away from home, I would recommend (from personal experience) using disposable wipes.  I had to bring along the ingredients for my wipe solution, in addition to my cloth wipes.  And with Elaine’s rash, I ended up buying wipes anyway to make sure they were extra gentle and mild.  It was much easier to have one less thing to attend to when I wasn’t in my own environment.

Don’t Overload the Diaper Bag

I packed way too many diapers in my diaper bag for use en route.  I was afraid of missed connections or delayed flights, and I didn’t want to be stuck without recourse.  However, when we arrived I discovered that I had not even used half of what I packed.  So don’t go overboard.  I would include one diaper for every two hours that you will be gone, and add 1-2 extra for peace of mind.  It should be plenty.  I ended up carrying around a lot of weight that was unnecessary!

I hope these tips help.  Every time I take my cloth diapers away from home, I learn something new.  What have you learned from traveling with cloth diapers?  Leave a comment – there are many readers who can benefit from your experience and tips!


Amanda said...

I'll be traveling to Thailand for a month and am considering bringing my hybrid stash (lots of BBD) to use while there as my friend is going to be CDing her new one come July. The only problem I think I might have is that everything must be line dried (inserts take longer, but it will be hotter there) and not sure about the detergent there (guess I'll be buying some samples!) I think I'll be buying some seventh gen or earth's best sposies (yuck!) for the airplane rides though as we have 24 hours of flying (with an 11 mo old!! KILL ME!!) Part of me wants to just have it easy and go all sposie for the month, but I can't bring myself to even spend that kind of money -- any thoughts?

Carrissa S. Stalcup said...

My husband and I recently traveled with cloth diapers as well. I think I would definitely consider disposable hybrids for the airport. We also brought the flip system, but I was not as prepared as I could have been. Without the diaper sprayer it does become more "un-fun".
Thanks for the tips!

Andrea Hamilton said...

@Amanda -
I would definitely take your hybrids, especially if you are going to be gone for a month. Here are some thoughts: Instead of buying sposies for the air travel, how about buying GroVia or Flip disposable inserts to use with your BBD covers? These "sposies" are made to be environmentally friendly, and are designed for the cloth diapering parent who just needs a little flexibility.

About line drying your diapers, I do it everyday. I live in a Brooklyn apartment and I am fortunate to have a washer, but no dryer. Take some clothespins and a basic string with you and you can rig a clothesline just about anywhere. I've also used chairs and/or drying racks to lay my inserts in the sun for faster drying. We get a fair amount of humidity, and my diapers are dry in 12 hours (hemp takes slightly longer).

As for detergent, consider taking some samples and alternate it with whatever detergent is available. When I couldn't afford CD detergent I would alternate it to help prevent buildup. Use it every 2-3 cycles instead of every cycle. Just try to use a powder detergent, and free of fragrance, dye, softener, or additive. I'm sure you can find something that will work!

I hope that helps. Enjoy the trip...I made a long trip with my 16 month old. It was trying, but not as bad as I anticipated. There are usually plenty of friendly, baby-loving people who don't mind sitting by your crying baby, or helping you out a little bit!

Anna said...

Thank you so much for this article. My family is planning on taking a cruise this summer that is a week long. At first I was thinking I would use diposables since it would be easier, but now I'm rethinking that.

We are looking at a 14 hour car ride there and back (split into 2 days) and then a cruise that is 5 days. I'm looking into using a hybrid system with disposables.

I'm not sure if I will have any access to laundry on the ship at all so I have to take that into consideration.

Do you have any suggestions? My son will be 6 months by the time we go and my daughter will be 3, bt she is potty trained.

Andrea Hamilton said...

@Anna - My suggestions would include what I said in response to Amanda. Use a hybrid system with disposable inserts. The GroVia brand makes disposable inserts, and so does Flip. I would do a trial run before your trip to assess how many you need, how absorbent they are, and if they work at night. I have heard of many people who only use disposable inserts at night. You will possibly/likely need to set the cover one size smaller than normal because the disposable insert is very thin.

If you have access to laundry on the ship, you can easily run a small load and line dry them in 12 hours or so (depending on climate). Inserts dry much quicker than AIO diapers. Since your son will be small, be sure to have enough covers, but they can just be wiped clean unless soiled with poo. I would still do disposables in the car. No fun starting a fun vacation with dirty laundry to do!

Have a good time, and let me know how it works out.

Also, you should be able to use the brand of disposable inserts with any cover if you already have a stash of diaper covers. Just do a trial run first. You don't want to get stuck on a cruise ship with leaking or not enough inserts!

Tat said...

I went from Australia to Europe and I used hybrids, too, GroVia with disposable inserts for the flights. They save heaps of space.

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