Since Summer is coming soon, well hopefully soon — this yucky rainy weather in Vancouver is driving me crazy — I thought a post on traveling with cloth diapers would be appropriate. Cloth diapering is a bit like vegetarianism, there are so many different “levels” of cloth diapering. Some choose just to use cloth at home, some only during the day and disposables at night and some cloth diaper 24/7 except when traveling. And I’ll be honest here, for the first 4 or 5 months we used disposables when travelling *gasp*. I know, I know. I could go into a whole explanation of why, but really it doesn’t matter, we just did.
Recently we took a family trip to Whistler and we cloth diapered the entire week. It was easy though, we were in a condo with a washer and dryer. We drove, so we didn’t have to worry about excess baggage. But we did learn a few things to make life easier.
One thing to keep in mind is what are your accommodations going to be? Condo, hotel, staying with someone, campground? If you’re going to be staying in a hotel, call ahead and find out what laundry facilities they have. A number of hotels in large cities are starting to have guest laundry rooms. The Marriott in Victoria is one. To digress, I found out about this once we were there, even though my husband has stayed there many times and has used the laundry facilities, uh ya would have been nice to know. So call ahead. Also, some major cities now have diaper services for visitors. I’ve heard Las Vegas has one and a few others. With a service, you don’t need to bring anything. So Google away and see if you can find one if that interests you.
If you know you have to go to a laundromat, you will want to plan your stash very carefully. It’s vacation time, you don’t want to spend ALL your time washing diapers, but you can’t bring a ton of diapers either. Planning for about 1.5 days is a good amount in my opinion.
This is where a two piece diaper comes in really handy. To use the Flip diaper as an example, you bring a couple of covers and a bunch of inserts. Wipe out the covers as you go (they wash up quite easily in a hotel room sink). This way you only have to wash the inserts. To make it even easier, bring a pack or two of disposable inserts and you’ll spend even less time at the laundromat, or none at all if you bring enough. Prefolds and covers work the same way. These options really cut down on the amount of laundry you have to do and the amount of diapers you have to bring.
Now, since you’ll be using someone else’s washing machine, you don’t know what kind of detergent has been used. It’s always a good idea to bring a cloth along to wipe out the inside of the washer with some hot water. People might look at you funny, but at least you won’t get detergent residue transferring to your diapers.
With your laundry routine, you have a couple of options. If you’re travelling by car, you can keep a bucket with lid filled with cold water in the back. Keep adding your dirty diapers to the bucket and the agitation from driving is a really good pre-soak (courtesy of the Real Diaper Association — thanks for the fab suggestion!). Alternatively, you can always soak your diapers in the bathtub ahead of time. Just make sure you clean it out afterward, your hosts might appreciate it 😀 Doing your own pre-soak will cut down on the amount of time at the laundromat. Or, you can bring along a good book and get a couple hours of “me” time hanging out at the laundromat.
Another key thing to think about is the water. Many areas have hard water. If you’re used to dealing with soft water, your detergent might not work properly. This is where bringing a couple sample pouches of hard water detergent, like Rockin’ Green Hard Rock, is really handy. Takes up very little space and you have the right detergent for the water. And the same for soft water, grab a sample bag of Soft Rock and you’re good to go too. If you are able to use your regular detergent, scoop enough into a Ziploc bag and bring that along. No point hauling a big container of detergent.
Finally, to make cloth diapering on the road as easy as possible, there are a few accessories you can bring to make life a little easier. First, a hanging diaper pail. These zip up at the top, have a handle for hanging them and you pop it in the wash with your diapers. Very handy and no big plastic diaper pail needed. The other thing is bio-liners. These are easiest way to deal with poop when you’re out or away from home on vacation. A wet bag or two and you are good to go.
With a little bit of planning and a few things, cloth diapering while travelling is very easy and do-able. Oh, and don’t forget the swim diaper. Enjoy your summer holidays!