I’ve changed my baby’s diaper in airplane bathrooms, on airplane seats, in airport bathrooms, airport floors, the back of cars, park benches, grassy areas, and many other random locations. When you’re traveling, especially in a developing country, if you have a baby with a dirty diaper you very well might not have the luxury of a changing table so you make do with what you do have.
Most planes have a changing table in the airplane bathroom that folds down with a latch, usually right over the toilet seat. It can be a tight squeeze, especially if your baby is bigger, longer, or extremely squirmy like mine. I always bring my own changing pad to lay down under baby as airplane bathrooms in general are gross. Many of the larger planes have a little latch on the back of the door that can be used to hold the diaper bag. One thing I have struggled with is taking out diapers, wipes, and the pad while holding baby, so I really like this changing pad that comes with pockets to keep all these things one place. That way I don’t have have to haul the diaper bag with me to the small bathroom.
I have once been on a small airplane where there was not a changing table, so I changed baby on my seat. Luckily, it was just wet, otherwise I’m sure the people around me would have not appreciated that very much. Many airports in more developed areas have either family changing rooms with changing tables for baby that fold down, or counters with rails around them designated for changing babies. However, I have been in many airports, particularly in developing countries, where I’ve made due with a changing pad on a long bathroom counter (make sure not to step away from baby). I’ve also just found a quiet corner on an airport floor to change baby when bathrooms have had no counter space and floors have been dirty and/or wet.
I have had a particularly hard time finding a good place to change diapers at restaurants in many countries. Many restaurants in more under-developed countries will not be equipped with a changing table, nor will the bathroom be a place where you will want to place baby on the floor. In those cases I have either opted to find a quiet corner on the floor of the restaurant where no one is sitting, in a quiet area where there is a booth-like seat, or have opted to find a place outside if the weather is amenable.
If you are out and about sight-seeing in a developing country and cannot find an appropriate place to change baby, just look for the safest, cleanest surface you can find. If you see a bench or park bench, use it. I changed my baby on a smooth, flat stone in Petra when we were there. Just make sure to lay down a changing pad, and if you are on a particularly hard surface, add another blanket/ towel/ shirt/ anything soft under baby’s head.
I highly recommend using cloth diapers while you are traveling if you have access to a washing machine, especially if you are in a developing country with poor waste and sanitation infrastructure.