Over the Christmas holidays, my husband, daughter, and I flew out to the West Coast to spend time with my in-laws. We were there for several weeks and I am so thankful that I decided to bring our cloth diapers along with us!
Before we left, there were two parts of our trip that had me questioning if using cloth was going to seriously stress me out or make my life easier. The first part was the actual day of travel: we had a longer car ride to the airport, a four hour direct flight and then a bit of time from the airport to my in-laws’ home. Did I really want to weigh down my diaper bag with all the cloth diapers we would need when we already had a car seat to bring on the plane plus our carry-on luggage? The second part was the entire duration of our visit to the West Coast: 3+ weeks visiting family in the area, day-long visits to the beach/local attractions, nights spent doing stuff, etc. — when was I going to do diaper laundry? Would figuring out a new wash routine using my in-laws’ washing machine AND finding time to do the diaper laundry cause unnecessary stress or be easy?
Actual Day of Travel and Cloth Diapers We Used
Actually traveling with cloth diapers just takes a bit of planning, but using cloth on the go turned out to be very simple and easy. I wish I had taken pictures of how I packed my diaper bag so I could have a visual for you (and a memory for myself!), but I was so stressed that I completely neglected to do so.
Inside my diaper bag, I packed six diapers, a wet bag for dirty diapers, a small web bag with a ziploc bag inside with wet cloth wipes and extra dry cloth wipes outside the ziploc bag, and all the other normal diaper bag items. I knew that my daughter CC needed to be changed every two hours or so. Normally, we use Lalabye Baby diapers during the day as pocket diapers (making it easier to spray any poop off), but sometimes we have leaks because CC will flood her diapers. I absolutely did not want to have a wet car seat on the airplane or have to change her outfit because I wasn’t able to change her diaper as quickly as I needed to. Therefore, instead, I packed prefolds, inserts, and covers. My favorite combination on our travel day were the Blueberry Capri Inserts. I purchased them right after the Flats Challenge and when I was still experimenting with all types of diapers ($15.95 USD for a Size Two pack of two). I liked the stay-dry layer and the double gusset protection from the Capri cover. To get maximum absorbency, I put a Geffen Baby Super Absorber between the Capri insert. Adding the Geffen Baby might have been overkill because I was able to change every 2-3 hours and none of her diapers were even close to being saturated. I also packed two GMD medium prefolds and one Diaper Rite cover that we did not get around to using until we reached our destination.
I was concerned that a Midwestern winter storm might derail my best-laid plans, so I packed all the rest of the diapers we would be taking in our carry-on luggage. I wanted to make sure that if our checked luggage was lost that I wouldn’t have to run out and buy disposables. Also, my cloth diapers do represent a sizable chunk of cash and it would be difficult to replace them. But, on a more immediate level, if a plane was delayed and we spent more hours in transit that I planned for, I could easily access more diapers than the six I had in my diaper bag.
Changing my daughter’s diaper was incredibly easy while in the airports because both airports had large counters as diaper changing stations. I loved the extra space to lay my wet bags next to me and not precariously on top of my diaper bag! Changing diapers on the plane was sadly not as luxurious nor as easy. The airplane bathroom on the way to our destination was fine, but the airplane bathroom on the way home was even smaller! CC did not enjoy being so squished and refused to lay down (and with the slope of the ceiling she couldn’t really stand). I also found it difficult to not drop something on the floor – I never would have been able to pick it up without opening the door and bumping someone waiting outside. Next time I travel, I will have my toddler practice squatting for diaper changes (??? or something!) and I will bring a separate changing pad (not attached to my diaper bag) into the bathroom and leave the diaper bag at my seat.
Away From Home and Using Cloth Diapers
I brought a decent sized stash with us and planned on doing laundry 2-3 times a week. Along with the diapers I brought in our diaper bag, I put the rest of our diapers in our carry-on suitcase:
- two wool Disana soakers for overnight (I could have gotten away with one)
- 4 Sustainablebabyish OBFs for overnight (I do laundry at night so this was perfect for me)
- 18 Lalabye Diapers (I packed 16, but I purchased two of the new releases and had them shipped to my in-laws)
- 3 extra GMD medium prefolds
- 2 medium Planetwise wet bags
- 2 Planetwise wet/dry bags
- 2 Planetwise pail liners (I am glad I brought these, but I would probably purchase a wet bag that closes for our next long trip because these could easily open and my 4 wet bags couldn’t hold all that I needed them to.)
- ALL my cloth wipes (I think I have 48 or so Grovia wipes)
- 6 wool dryer balls
I looked up my in-laws’ washer on Fluff Love University’s website to find out the recommended settings for a good wash routine. I purchased a smaller bottle of my preferred detergent. I even brought along water hardness test strips, but I misplaced them and therefore did not use them (however, I did not notice any sort of build-up on faucets so I think we were okay without adding our usual capfuls of Calgon). I had left an IKEA drying rack from our previous long visit and I used that to hang dry everything but all the inserts, prefolds, and OBFs.
Using cloth diapers while away from home made my life easier and lessened the stresses of travel and establishing a temporary new routine on the West Coast. I realize that this may not be the case for everyone and that is fine. There is no guilt in using disposables if that is what helps you keep your sanity! I loved that we continued to enjoy all the advantages and benefits of cloth diapers while we were away from home and that no new challenges popped up. I particularly appreciated the familiar routine of stuffing and folding. I am especially grateful for Southwest Airlines and their free baggage allowance because without it I am not sure I would have brought my normal stash. If I were more limited on space, I probably would have brought flats, covers, and a few Geffen inserts. Thankfully, I got to bring my normal stash and I am grateful to know that I really can get away with using a small stash. However, I was very happy to return home to my entire stash!
Have you ever traveled and used cloth diapers? What would you do the same and what would you do differently next time? Are you on the fence about bringing your cloth diapers along on your next trip? What are your worries or fears? I would love to hear so please comment below!