I use cloth diapers 95% of the time, and also use disposable diapers once in a while on long international flights or on vacations. Yes, it’s possible to do cloth diapering when traveling internationally, as long as you have access to a washing machine (no dryer is needed). 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 10-12 disposable diapers in the trash that would end up a block down in the river that is quickly becoming a stinking garbage pit.
I choose to use cloth diapers because, 1) it’s much cheaper than disposable, an investment I am hoping will last through multiple children, 2) it’s easy and convenient and I never have to worry about running out, and 3) especially when traveling in developing countries with less than savory waste disposal, I do feel much better about not contributing to the waste. Plus, they’re really freaking cute, and they seem more comfortable and soft on my baby’s little tush. There’s an expensive upfront investment, but if you plan on sticking with them through at least one child, you’ll definitely save money.
At home, I simply throw the dirty diapers and cloth wipes (which I use with plain warm water) into a cloth diaper bag, of which I have two, and at the end of the day unzip the bottom of the bag into the washer and throw the bag along with it, and wash and dry the diapers. Especially in the early months when we were going through at least 12 diapers a day, I found that having two dozen diapers and thirty cloth wipes is most convenient as I always have a clean set one day while the wash is being done. In most other developing countries I have usually had a washer available, but not a dryer, and found that it was helpful to have closer to 30 diapers and 30 wipes, as sometimes (especially the absorbent cloth inserts) take longer to dry depending on the climate (like humid southern India).
When we are out and about on short domestic flights or day trips around town/village wherever we are in the world, I just pack 2-3 cloth diapers and 4-5 cloth wipes, plus a diaper spray and a cloth diaper “wet bag” that I dump the dirty diapers into that keeps everything, smells included, contained. The bags are also generally useful for anything dirty (clothes, spit rags, etc.) that you want to keep separate from the clean stuff. The wet bag and dirty diapers just get dumped into the other dirty diapers/ wash later on.
The only time I have used disposable diapers is when: 1) I am traveling on long 15 hour + plane journeys (let’s be honest, carrying around 5+ dirty diapers in carry-on luggage isn’t pleasant or convenient) , or 2) I don’t have access to a washing machine. On our first trip to Paraguay when Veda was six weeks old my husband attempted hand-washing cloth diapers in the hotel sink, which lasted a week before switching to disposable- we commend anyone with the time and grit to hand wash 12 dirty diapers a day.
There are also several hybrid diapers now available on the market which are essentially a reusable and washable cloth cover with the option to use either a reusable/ washable cloth insert, or a disposable insert. This might be a great option for those that are frequent travelers with baby for vacations when you don’t want to be dealing with doing the wash, but still don’t want to use disposable. With these you have the option of using a cloth insert at home and then using the disposable inserts while you are the go, whether around town or traveling on vacation, where you can dispose of the biodegradable disposable inserts and just rinse/ hand wash the quick-drying shells as needed.
The Flip Hybrid diapers a great option and are one size, so you can use it from birth to out of diapers, adjusting the snaps for fit along the way (although I honestly think they’d be too big on a newborn for the first two months or so). Read my review of the Flip Hybrid diapers here. G diapers also makes a hybrid diaper with a disposable/ reusable insert option. These come in fitted sizes, including a newborn size.
For Veda’s first two months I used a newborn cloth diaper rental service, which I found to be incredibly useful and cost-effective. The diapers were sent to me, and when I was finished, I sent them back and got additional credit to purchase cloth diaper products, where I bought most of my current cloth diaper stash. I use Dream Diapers because it is very responsive, cost is competitive with free shipping on orders over $45, and fabulous personal service.
I also did a lot of research on how to make my cloth diapers last (I want those to last through all my multiple children to really get the bang for my buck!). It is best to use a specialized detergent that doesn’t leave residue on the diaper that results in it being less absorbent (which means more leaking). I find that Rock’n Green is a great cloth diaper laundry product, which is easy to travel with since it’s dry powder. However, I am going to attempt to try and make my own homemade detergent on my next trip to India, if I can find comparable ingredients. We’ll see how that goes!
Still not convinced cloth diapering can be convenient while traveling, but looking for an environmentally-friendly disposable diaper? Check out Broody Chick’s 100% Natural Fully Compostable diapers.
To find out more on cloth diapering, how, why, product reviews, etc. I recommend the following websites:
Happy cloth diapering!