How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Long Travel

How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Long Travel

This blog was posted as a guest blog on All About Cloth Diapers on February 9, 2012:

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.

Related Pages:

Flip Hybrid Diapers for Travel

Cloth Diapering for Travel?

How to Wash Diapers in a Foreign Country

Saving India’s Rivers from Diapers

7 thoughts on “How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Long Travel”

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  • I’m curious have you traveled through South East Asia and used cloth diapers? We’re getting ready to take a five week trip there with our 16 month old daughter and I’m worried about the diapers. Would there be somewhere to wash cloth diapers? If not what is the quality of their disposables? How would we feasibly bring five weeks worth of diapers with us? I’m really tempted by the flips after reading your review, at home we use Fuzzibunz and love them! Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi Theresa, thanks for your question! Where exactly in South East Asia will you be traveling for 5 weeks? That is fantastic that you will be bringing along your 16 month old for the adventure.

      Depending on where you are going, you may or may not be able to find quality disposable diapers. There hasn’t been a place in the world where I have not found disposable diapers (usually at pharmacies), but sometimes in places like India and South East Asia they tend to be expensive and very “plasticky” for lack of a better word. Since in many countries like that using disposable diapers is a luxury many families just do cloth wraps/ regular undies early on with elimination communication. So, you can always count on finding disposables, especially in a pinch, but don’t count on them being cheap or of nice quality.

      If you like your Fuzzibunz, transitioning to Flips will be easy for you- that’s what I did. If I were you I would buy (3) Flip day packs, which would give you a total of 9 covers and 18 cloth inserts. (But I am not you- you will do what you think will work best for you and your family!). At $50/ pack that will be $150. You might spend close to that buying disposables while you are there for 5 weeks, anyway. Then I would also buy 2-3 packs of disposable flip inserts. If your daughter goes through 6-8 diapers per day, the cloth inserts will last you 2-3 days. So, if you are traveling/ not by a washing machine it buys you time. The covers you can easily wash by hand in a sink with a little soap and they were dry nicely over night. If you aren’t near a washing machine/ place and you run out of cloth, you can use disposable Flip inserts as back-ups.

      Depending on where you travel you may or may not be able to find a laundry place. Often times there are cheap places/ storefronts you can go to and have your laundry done same day, so depending on your travel itinerary, if you are staying somewhere overnight you can drop off dirty inserts/ covers in the morning and pick them after a day of outings. You can also talk to the hotel, B&B, or place where you are staying and work out a diaper washing deal with them, providing your own detergent. If worse comes to worse, you can always hand wash the inserts in a sink, which many people do (but I personally find it a huge waste of time and don’t feel like I can them adequately clean by hand).

      If you bring along one package of Rockin’ Green dry laundry detergent, that should last you the 5 weeks you are there for machine or hand washing the diapers. I hope this doesn’t sound complicated, because it really isn’t difficult once you get into the routine with it and identify where/ how to get them washed. If you don’t want to deal with it, travel with a couple packs of disposable diapers and plan on buying more when you run out. I wouldn’t haul an entire 5 weeks of disposables with you- it will take up an entire suitcase. Hope this helps!

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