Reusable Nappies: Cloth Nappies on Holiday

Can I take my cloth nappies on holiday?

The simple answer is a resounding ‘yes’, but I will attempt to address the most common concerns with this step by step guide to using cloth nappies on holiday. 

I hope these tips will help to reassure you that you don’t have to switch to disposables whenever you’re going to be away from home, and it’s actually very easy to keep using cloth nappies on holiday, regardless of whether you’re staying at a fancy resort, in a tent or at an Airbnb!

  1. How many nappies should I take and which brand is best for travel?

You certainly don’t want to waste valuable packing space and risk paying for extra baggage, but equally you don’t want to be caught short, so it’s important to calculate this just right! 

I tend to do a nappy wash every two to three days, I allow one day of drying time, and I take a day’s worth of spares, so I pack enough for four or five days. If we’re only away for a short break or even a week, I pack enough so that washing isn’t necessary. Your total number will vary depending on the age of your child (newborns need more than toddlers!).

I’d advise choosing nappies that are space efficient and quick drying, but that will also meet all of your needs. For example, I’m happy to sacrifice luggage space for bulkier nappies to use at night and on long journeys because I know they’re up to the task, and I’d rather avoid changing sheets and pyjamas in the middle of the night! 

Ultimately, there is no best brand; take whatever you have found to be the best fit for your little one. We use a selection of the following: TotsBots EasyFit StarsTotsBots Bamboozles with PeeNut Wraps, Milovia pocket nappiesClose Pop Ins, and Baba+Boo pocket nappies.

  1. What else do I need to successfully stick with cloth nappies on holiday?

You can work out how many cloth wipes you need using the same formula as for nappies! We also use cloth wipes for runny noses, sticky hands and faces, and to remove my make up, so I also pack extra for these purposes. Don’t forget any additional boosters, inserts and liners you normally use!

You can of course buy detergent while you’re away but be aware that non-bio isn’t easy to find everywhere, and you may not have a choice between powder or liquid. Ecological brands are also not readily available all over the world. 

If you have a preferred detergent that you want to bring with you, measure out how much you’ll need based on how many washes you’ll want to do. We managed to take an open foil packet (which is the perfect size for taking on longer trips!) of Violet’s laundry powder as hand luggage all over North America. We were a little surprised given how strict airport security is in the States, but no one seemed too bothered about our packet of mysterious white powder!

Babipur stock a lovely range of nappy creams. Weleda’s Calendula nappy cream is great at soothing sore bums, and the 75ml size is perfect for hand luggage. I also take a pot of Kokoso coconut oil everywhere! It’s an essential for every travel washbag and can be used as a nappy cream, a moisturiser for the whole family, and make-up remover. I’ve used it to clear cradle cap, soothe both sun-kissed and chapped skin, and to treat baby eczema, and it’s also all I use on my own skin. 

  1. Where do I store dirty nappies without stinking the place out?

You’re going to need wet bags! Personally, I am loyal to Planet Wise as I find they contain smells and hold in moisture really well. I use the medium size for out and about, and the large size for storing at wherever we’re calling ‘home’. I find that taking two of each size is enough for longer trips. They’re all machine washable so I stick any used bags in with each load of nappies and wipes.

  1. I’m away for more than a couple of days; how am I going to wash my nappies?

This depends entirely on the type of trip you have planned. 

If you’re only away for a short break, you may not need to do any washing at all; just bring your nappies back dirty and do it at home. The longest I’ve gone without washing my nappies is eight days. They survived stink- and stain-free after being washed as normal once we were back home. 

Many campsites, motels, lodges, hotels and guesthouses have laundry facilities on site. These are usually coin operated machines that you can put on and come back to later. I’ve even been offered free wash cycles as a ‘thank you for using cloth’ at a number of campsites and motels! 

Those that don’t have facilities for guests, may still allow you to use their housekeeping machines. Only at one hotel have they not allowed me to use their washing machines (but their housekeeping staff put a load on for me anyway when their manager wasn’t around – we showed our appreciation with a bottle of something tasty!).

We often choose to stay in an Airbnb. Being able to select ‘washer’ and ‘dryer’ as search filters is very handy, and having laundry facilities in your accommodation certainly makes using cloth nappies on holiday that little bit easier!

Although it may seem quite old fashioned, laundrettes are still popular in many countries, so if there are no laundry facilities on site, look up your local laundrette. We have used many!

As a last resort, nappies can also be hand-washed.

  1. What if it rains or I don’t have access to anywhere to hang washing; how will they dry?

Add a ball of string and some clothes pegs to your packing list; this can be used as a washing line either inside or out. Just look for objects to tie each end to! 

My preference is to hang washing outside, but when this hasn’t been an option or the weather wasn’t playing ball, I’ve hung nappies on every hang-able object in our room or apartment. Cloth nappies, though very pretty, don’t make the best decor, but needs must!

  1. What do I need for swimming?

Don’t forget to pack a swim nappy or two! We love TotsBots swim nappies and find that having two is ideal for any length of trip. They can be added to your usual nappy wash or hand washed with swim wear, and they dry incredibly quickly. 

We use them at the beach, pool and I’ve learnt to also carry one with me for any impromptu wet activities. We discovered that, while they work perfectly well, running through city fountains, swimming in waterfalls and streams, and playing in water-based playgrounds leaves ordinary cloth nappies a bit heavy so it’s better to have a swim nappy to hand!

  1. What should I put in my hand luggage?

In the same way you worked out how many nappies and wipes you needed for your trip, take enough for the length of your journey, plus a few spares in case of delays and lost luggage. 

Remember you’ll need a wet bag, nappy cream if you think your little one might need it, changes of clothes (for baby and accompanying adults!) and a changing mat. The Close Pop-In Change and Go mat is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for travelling. 

For more tips on flying with babies and toddlers, check out this post.

  1. Isn’t using cloth nappies on holiday a bit of a faff?

I haven’t found it to be any more trouble than at home (and I don’t find it any bother at home!). Regardless of where you’re going and the type of trip you have planned, you’ll find your groove and can easily establish a daily rhythm that incorporates using cloth nappies. 

If you’re still feeling unsure about washing and stuffing nappies while on your well-deserved break, remind yourself of the environmental benefits of using cloth nappies on holiday as well as at home. 

If this isn’t motivation enough, can your nappy-wearer help you? My son loves helping me do the poppers, add in liners and place wipes in piles. It can easily be turned into a game with loads of opportunities for fun and learning. Try colour naming, counting, sorting, stacking, and identifying objects on the prints. Hours of fun!

Huge thanks to Joss for sharing with us for Real Nappy Week! You can hear more about Joss and her travels over on her blog Little Green Globetrotter and also find her on Instagram and Facebook

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