Traveling with Diapers: How to Do It Outside of Your Own Home

Summer travels! The open road, a long flight or on a train through the mountains. Music in your ear, the wind in your hair, mom and pop breakfast joints; sounds so picturesque! Things change with adding children to the mix, but it just turns out to be a different type of adventure. Changing babe's bum with a quick (or long) feed on the side of the road is another stop to be added to the list...many stops cloth diaper at home, but cloth diapers can also make that trip with your family. It's not as scary as it may seem.  

Before the excuses, I ask that you listen with an open mind. There are many kinds of trips and I think in most cases cloth diapers manage the job quite well. A couple items will help make it easier:

  • A large wet bag that zippers shut 
  • A squirt bottle (like the one you brought home with you after babe's birth)
  • A spill-proof container to have enough laundry detergent (plus a little extra) 
  • Up to 3 travel wet bags (different styles hold between 2 to 8 diapers)

Let's examine some scenarios. Keep in mind, these are my experiments and not everyone may agree...

A week (or weekend) at your parents' house.

Really, this could be a visit with any close relative. Ask before you leave if you can borrow their washer for diapers while you are visiting. 95% of the time they will say yes, but it's common courtesy. If they have questions, just review your washing regimen with them...perhaps even promise to do a tub wash with oxygenated bleach after each load.

Bring a stash of diapers to get your through at least 2 days. I like covers with prefolds or inserts on trips for this reason as they take up less room and can pack enough for three days easily. Sometimes, I like using gDiaper inserts or a combination of the inserts. If they have a composter, you can add the pee gDiaper inserts to it without adding to their trash. Don't let laundry consume you...but doing this also lightens the amount of clothes you need to bring as you can plan on doing a load or two. If the weather is nice, use it as an excuse to let your diapers dry in the sun. You don't need to use the dryer and you can sun-bleach out some stains.

Car Camping (aka campground camping)

Last year we spent a week in a campground in Drumheller with another family. I was determined to use cloth on our youngest the whole time. Many campgrounds that provide showers also provide washing machines. I had built a homemade washing mechanism (bucket and plunger combo, see pictures below and follow the link to Dirty Diaper Laundry's tutorial) but after a couple attempts I realized that was a little too much for me. It would of been possible if there hadn't an easier alternative a few steps away. I shelled out the $2 per load and washed diapers every 2 days. It was very warm, so I don't think I would go more than that even with a good laundry bag. Our rented trailer did have a hose attached to the outside, which came in super handy for spraying did the bucket! When the water level was getting high, I walked it over to the sewage dump spot and poured it out. Easy!


I hung the diapers to dry and there was something beautiful with seeing diapers hanging on the line in a campground. Plus, they were spotless by the end of the week long trip.

If you were only going camping for the weekend, take the diapers you think you'll need plus a few extra and clean the load when you get home. If you can spray off the majority of the poop with a squirt bottle or rinse in a toilet, if available, all the better. We did this last weekend when we camped in Drumheller. I was one diaper short though as I overestimated our youngest's new potty skills while away from the house and daycare. Luckily our friends gave us the one diaper needed and I didn't have to run to the store to buy a whole pack. One of the benefits of camping with friends!

Hotel Stays

Hoteling with cloth is a little more difficult, but not impossible. A lot depends on the length of your stay. Again, I find that a two piece system works quite well. The cover can be used until its pooey and then a quick wash in the sink does the job. Covers dry quickly, so having a few on hand for a rotation is easy. Again, you can vary the type of insert. If its a short stay, no washing, only rinsing, is required. You can clean the load at home.


If an extended stay, an afternoon at the laundromat will be needed. This is not always a terrible thing as it may give you some time to read (or browse the Internet) and drink coffee alone if you are traveling with a spouse/partner/family member/friend. Even if you are traveling alone if with the kid(s), a laundromat can be an exciting place for them with interesting people (a movie helps too).

Cabin (no luxuries aka outhouse)

Honestly, I cheated an used disposables our last cabin trip. It was a week long and there were no washing machines/dryers or flush toilets around. The composting toilet wasn't even working! It also rained the entire time. You can do it going old school, I just didn't this time.

So Yes, cloth diapering while away may require extra planning and a little extra work, but it is possible and very doable in most situations. And if not, no one should judge you for using disposables.

What are your tricks and tips for diapering while away? Please share with us in the comment as I love hearing another viewpoint or how someone else makes it work!

We are continuing our sale on all of The Laundry Tarts products until the end of August! Use the promo code TLT20% during checkout to receive 20% off all Tarts items...including samples!

Thank you!


August 16, 2012 by Laurie McGowan
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