Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cloth-diapering on the road

When I was pregnant with baby girl, we decided to cloth diaper. It was a decision my husband and I made together. People around us thought we were crazy when they heard about this. But we simply didn't want the 2,000 kilograms of diapers our child would generate to be still present on earth in 2260 in the same form as they were disposed.

Long story short, we've been successfully cloth-diapering for two years (and targeting to potty-train her in the summer). At some point last year, we decided to take it to another level: we wanted to cloth-diaper while traveling. The first few trips with baby girl (including a week of Berlin when she was 2.5-month-old) were accompanied by disposable diapers. After a couple of trips, we decided that it didn't make sense. If we could cloth-diaper at home, we could cloth-diaper on the road. After many attempts, these are some tips we could share, in case you choose to travel in cloth.

Self-service laundry are now available everywhere (in Europe) 

Although it's something common in America, self-service laundry (with washers and dryers you can use using coins or tokens) were not too common in Europe until recently. Everyone has a washer at home. Lately the number of self-service laundry in Croatia had significantly increased. Our first attempt taking cloth diaper to travel was a summer holiday to Lovran, a small coastal town 2-hour drive from Zagreb. We were planning to stay for five days. We stayed in a youth hostel we've been staying in for the last three summers, right in front of the beach. As we never needed to do any laundry there before, we never noticed that they have their own self-service laundry. That summer with baby girl I went to ask the receptionist where I could find self-service laundry in town, and she appointed the other end of the lobby. Easy. We washed and dried the diapers just like at home.

Muslin are the best choice

On our first trip with cloth, I packed different kind of diapers: the conventional ones (cotton diapers shaped like disposable that need a waterproof diaper cover), the all-in-ones (conventional cloth but with a waterproof layer already sewn on them) and the all-in-twos (only a waterproof shell that has pockets or snaps, so you fill it with muslin). Muslin (also called flats) is that light and thin cotton cloth you usually use as burping cloth or for swaddling. After a couple of trips, our best choice is: muslin! It's light, it's thin, it's high absorbent, and it's air dry quickly. We could hand-wash in case there is no washer around, if they're not soiled. The soiled ones, we keep in the wetbag until the day we're heading home. We did only-muslin diapers for Greece trip. With the abundant of sun and big balcony with constant gentle wind, it was easy to wash and dry them immediately. (More about our Greek trip in this post here). As for baby girl, her skin appreciates natural cotton material during hot summer days, way more than the plastic-like diapers.

Summer holiday in Umag, baby girl wearing the waterproof shell from Close Pop-in filled with muslin

Child's luggage (for us) is meant for diapers

The challenge of traveling with cloth is, obviously, the space. If you go somewhere for over a week, you might need to bring around 20 diapers so you can comfortably wash them every other day. If you're flying though, it's easy. Whether your child is a lap-child or a bigger child with an own seat, most airlines will give him luggage space. When we traveled to Indonesia in 2014, with Turkish airlines, baby girl (as a lap-child) got a free 10 kg checked in luggage, plus a cabin hand-luggage. An older child would get the regular 30 kg checked in luggage like adults. I used this 10 kg exclusively for her diapers checked in a cabin size suitcase. Her clothes and toys went to my luggage with no problem (30 kg was more than enough).

Vacuum bags are handy for packing diapers

If you travel with car though, you might need to pack your diapers in self-vacuuming bags. I personally never did this, but I've heard good stories from other moms who had problem with lack of space in the car. Self-vacuum bags could really press packed diapers into real small and flat package you can just fit into any corner of the trunk.

Investing in good wetbags is essential

At home, storing dirty diapers while waiting for a wash is no problem. We, like probably most parents, store dirty diapers in a big bucket with a lid which we put on our balcony. Every other day I would just throw everything into the washer and that's basically it. On the roads, things are different. The chances are we need to drive in the car with piles of dirty diapers. Or store them in the hotel room if we don't have a balcony. Or carry them in our suitcases on the way back home. The key is investing in high quality wetbag. Wetbag is a waterproof bag where you store dirty diapers while on the road. Good wetbags are not only waterproof, they're also smell-proof. Once you find washer, just wash the wetbag together with the diapers and they usually air dry in no time. We own around different six wetbags in different sizes, which let us travel in peace. When not traveling, these wetbags go with baby girl to the daycare everyday, so her caregivers store her dirty diapers in it. Neat!

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