Guide to Cloth Diapering While Traveling – Vacation or Long Term!

Guide to Cloth Diapering While Traveling

Aloha! I hope these tips, tricks, and hacks inspire you to cloth diaper while traveling.

Our family of four is traveling the world full time and I have been cloth diapering my toddler for the past six months of long-term travel. I also cloth diapered my daughter when we took a short vacation to visit our families. The tips in this article apply whether you are traveling internationally with cloth diapers or taking cloth diapers on a weekend get-away.

We will cover all the ins-and-outs, including what to do with dirty diapers while traveling; the best cloth diapers for vacation; and even disposable cloth diaper inserts.

Instead of sharing only my individual experience with cloth diapering away from home, I wanted to make this a comprehensive Guide to Cloth Diapering While Traveling. So I asked for input from others who have cloth diapered while on vacation. I gathered tons of insight and advice!

I realize that we all have unique preferences when it comes to cloth diapering. And our trips vary greatly in length and destination. So rather than presenting a single "best way to cloth diaper while traveling," I will walk you through the considerations to think about when deciding what method of cloth diapering will work for your family while you are on the road.

I love hearing from you, so feel free to share your experience with cloth diapering while traveling in the comments!

This blog post organizes all the tips, tricks, hacks, and how-to advice to answer your Frequently Asked Questions about cloth diapering while traveling. You can read the entire post or use this index to skip ahead to your burning question:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Why Use Cloth Diapers on Vacation?

When deciding whether to use cloth diapers on vacation, it's helpful to first think of the reasons that you cloth diaper at home. Do those reasons still apply while you are away from home? For me, I cloth diaper for my baby's comfort and to reduce our environmental impact. Both of those still apply while we are traveling.

Another reason to use cloth diapers while traveling is that they are better at containing poop than disposable diapers. Who wants to deal with a poop-splosion on vacation, or on an airplane? Even if you do decide to use disposables on vacation, you may want to use a cloth diaper cover over the disposable for better containment.

Whether you are just considering using cloth diapers while traveling or set on sticking with cloth, let's jump into the logistics of how to cloth diaper on vacation.

And remember, it's not all-or-nothing! You can use a mix of cloth diapers and disposables on vacation.

How to Store Dirty Cloth Diapers While Traveling

Store dirty cloth diapers in a wet bag while traveling

Whether you will bring enough cloth diapers to last your whole trip or you will wash and reuse them along the way, you will need a method for storing wet and dirty cloth diapers while traveling.

I like to bring a wet bag that zips shut and is big enough to hold all the wet cloth diapers at once. I use this large wet bag as a diaper pail wherever we are staying.

You could also use one wet bag for pee diapers and another wet bag for rinsed poop diapers. That's a great idea if you will wait until you return home to wash the diapers.

I also bring smaller wet bags and wet/dry clutches to use in my diaper bag during the day. Then at the end of the day I empty those smaller wet bags into the large wet bag.

Here are some options of wet bags to use for storing dirty cloth diapers while traveling:

Kanga Care Wet Bag

Planet Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag

Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag

Logan + Lenora Portfolio

How to Wash and Dry Cloth Diapers While Traveling

washing cloth diapers while traveling on vacation

If you are going on a short trip, like a weekend get-away, you may be able to bring enough cloth diapers for the entire trip and not need to wash them while away from home. If that's the case, yippy, just bring the wet diapers home and wash them as usual!

For longer trips, the first step in preparing to cloth diaper while traveling is to think about how you will wash the diapers while on the road.

One or a combination of these methods might be available to you:

  • Washing in a washing machine while renting an apartment (through something like Airbnb)
  • If you will be staying with friends or family, ask ahead of time if it will be okay to use the washing machine
  • Washing in a hotel laundry room (If you aren't sure, you can call the hotel ahead of time to find out what laundry facilities will be available and wether they are coin operated or if you can pay by card.)
  • Washing in a nearby laundromat
  • Sending to a laundry service to be washed and dried (Common and inexpensive in SE Asia)
  • Hand washing in the sink or with a Scrubba bag (maybe just the pee diapers, if that's all you feel comfortable hand washing)
  • Washing in a bucket using a plunger as an agitator
  • Drying in an electric dryer in a vacation rental
  • Hanging to line dry (common in many countries outside the USA)

How to Deal with Poopy Cloth Diapers on Vacation

There are multiple options of how to deal with poopy cloth diapers on vacation. You can try to avoid the poop getting on the cloth diaper in the first place by using disposable diaper liners. Or you could bring tools for cleaning the poopy diapers in your preferred manner. Here are some possibilities:

  • Use a disposable diaper liner
  • Bring a diaper sprayer
  • There is often a sprayer attached to the toilet in places like Thailand and Vietnam
  • Bring a peri bottle to help spray poop
  • Bring rubber gloves for swishing in the toilet
  • Start practicing elimination communication before your trip and start catching poops in the toilet!

Our family practices elimination communication, which is a gentle method of allowing a baby opportunities to pee or poop in the toilet or potty. Many families who practice elimination communication with babies who are around 6-months-old quickly get to the point where they are catching most of the poops in the potty. This helps avoid poopy cloth diapers and makes cloth diapering while traveling much easier.

With our first baby we were consistently catching poops in the toilet from 6-months-old, with a bit of a pause around 12-months-old. With our second baby we were consistently catching poops in the potty from 3 to 6-months-old, but stopped catching them once she became mobile. So despite practicing EC, we still have poopy cloth diapers to deal with.

If you are curious about trying EC, read our tips on starting elimination communication. We also have an article all about practicing elimination communication while traveling.

What's the Worst that Could Happen? - Poop-sploshion!

Luckily, in our six months of travel we've only experienced one poop-splosion. Normally, my babies poop while at home (whether that is a hotel room or apartment rental). It's rare for them to poop while out and about.

On this particular occasion we had been taking multiple trains north through Japan and only staying a short time per town. I hadn't given my baby much "down time" at the Airbnb rental before rushing off for a full day of sightseeing. We were waiting for our designated tour time at Mei and Satsuki's house, from the movie My Friend Totoro. We had been wandering around the grounds to pass the time, and when I picked up my daughter I noticed from the smell that she may have pooped. I took her to the bathroom, which was luckily a well equipped Japanese public bathroom.

The poop had escaped from her fitted cloth diaper and a bit had gotten on the inside of the wool skirtie she was wearing. Luckily, this bathroom had not only a toilet, changing table, and sink, but also a flushing bidet sink. I was able to remove the diaper and set it aside. Wash my toddler in the bidet sink and dry her with the cloth wipes I had. Then I was able to dunk and swish the poop covered fitted cloth diaper in the toilet, followed by a bit more rinsing in the sink. It wasn't completely clean, but clean enough to put into a wet diaper bag that I then hung from the outside of my travel diaper bag. I wiped some poop dots off the wool skirtie with a wet paper towel.

I dressed my daughter with a clean cloth diaper and we returned to the line in time to make the tour! It wasn't something I'd want to do again, but it also wasn't impossible to deal with a massively poopy cloth diaper while sightseeing.

Supplies for Washing Cloth Diapers While Traveling

If you will wash and dry cloth diapers on vacation, it's important to bring along some supplies. Here are some items to considering bringing:

  • Coins: quarters in the USA, 10 Baht in Thailand
  • Laundry detergent (your favorite powdered detergent, Eco Nuts)
  • Stain remover stick
  • Sink stopper and gloves for hand washing
  • Clothes drying line or hanging drying rack with clips

When traveling in the USA I like to bring a roll or two of quarters with me for coin operated washing machines. That way I'm not spending my vacation time hunting for coins.

Since laundry detergent can be quite heavy I sometimes bring Eco Nuts to have on hand for the first wash and then buy laundry detergent once I arrive. When staying with relatives, I have also ordered laundry detergent online, to have it arrive the day I arrive.

For more cloth diapering supplies, see our section above about dealing with poop!

How Often to Wash Cloth Diapers While Traveling

I like to wash our cloth diapers or training pants every other day. On one short trip I washed cloth training pants every evening, but you need to balance how much free time you will have. I don't like to leave wet cloth diapers in a wet bag long enough that they might mold or develop an ammonia smell. At most, I would go three days before washing.

For any poopy cloth diapers, I remove the poop and rinse them with water before putting them in a wet bag.

What to do if Your Wash Routine Wasn't Quite Perfect While Traveling

It's not a big deal if your wash routine was less than perfect for one or two washes. If you are worried about build-up after multiple times washing the cloth diapers away from home, you can try using Grovia Mighty Bubbles to strip any urine and mineral build up.

Difficulties I've Faced Cloth Diapering While Traveling Long Term

As I mentioned in the intro, I have been cloth diapering while traveling internationally for the past six months. My biggest obstacle has been maintaining a good wash routine while using washing machines that only have cold water. All but one of the Airbnb apartment rentals that we stayed in while traveling in Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia only had cold water.

I figured out some hacks for cold water only washing machines, like pre-rinsing the diapers and training pants in hot water in the bathroom sink or shower. I also sometimes carry a pan or two of hot water from the bathroom sink and pour it into the cold water in the washing machine. It's still not ideal, but it's better than a completely cold wash!

Which Style of Cloth Diapers to Bring on Vacation

Thin training pants vs thick fitted diapers

Thin training pants vs thick fitted diapers

If you have a favorite type of cloth diaper that is working well at home, you might want to bring that on vacation.

If you are still planning your stash or want to invest in cloth diapers to use on vacation, here are some things to consider:

  • How much room will they take up in the luggage?
  • Will they be easy to wash?
  • Is hand washing an option?
  • Will they dry quickly if hung to line dry?
  • Do they effectively contain pee and poop?

You may also want to take a mixture of different types of cloth diapers to use in different scenarios. Think about which types of cloth diapers will work best:

  • During the day
  • At night
  • On long flights or travel days
  • Swimming

Cloth Diaper StyleWashing/DryingBulk when Packing
Hybrid diaper cover with disposable insertsOnly need to wash covers. gDiapers inserts can be flushed or composted.Pretty thin. Bulk will decrease as you use up inserts.
Flat diapers with coversFlats are very easy to wash and dry. Good option for hand washing and line drying.Not too bulky, but depends on the size and material of the flats.
Cotton training pants with woolies or coversTraining pants are easy to wash and dry. Can hand wash. Can send to a laundry service. Wool can go about 2 weeks between washes.Trainers are thinner than cloth diapers.
Prefold diapers with coversEasy enough to wash in a machine. Will take longer to dry than flats.Depends on the size and thickness.
All-in-Two (cover with snap-in insert)Should be easy to wash. Drying time depends upon materials.Less bulky than fitted or all-in-one diapers.
Fitted diapers + woolies or coversSome fitted diapers can take a long time to try. Loveybums fitted diapers dry fast.Thicker than training pants. Only need about 4 woolies.
All-in-one diapers (everything is sewn together)Can be harder to wash and longer to dry. Probably don't want to hand wash.Bulky in luggage.

Some of the easiest types of cloth diapers to use while traveling are flats with covers, cotton training pants with woolies, and hybrid diapers with disposable inserts.

Flat Diapers with Covers

Cotton Training Pants with Woolies

How Many Cloth Diapers to Bring for a Trip

When deciding how many cloth diapers to pack for a trip, you should balance how much space you have in your luggage and how frequently you want to wash cloth diapers. I like to wash cloth diapers every other day. I would pack 10 to 12 cloth diapers per day for a baby, but it really depends how many diapers your baby goes through in a day!

What if you run out of clean cloth diapers?!?

If you run out of clean cloth diapers while traveling, it's not the end of the world. In most places you can easily buy a pack of disposable diapers. If your baby has sensitive skin or you have a particular preference regarding brand of disposable diapers, you could bring one pack with you just in case.

How to Pack Cloth Diapers for Travel

Now the fun part (at least for me). Packing cloth diapers for vacation!

If you are taking a road trip you may have room in your car to pack bulkier styles of cloth diapers. Although it depends how you pack your car, as we were known to fill our Mini Cooper S to the brim with Christmas presents!

You could pack a whole basket or tub full of clean cloth diapers in the trunk, but make sure not to leave the whole tub at home, as one contributor to this article did! Luckily, she had the cloth diaper covers packed in a separate bag and was able to buy some flour sack towels along the way.

Packing Cloth Diapers for Flying

Packing Cloth Diapers for Flying on Vacation

My biggest question when preparing to fly with cloth diapers was, "How can I pack all the cloth diapers clean?"

For our current trip, I decided to switch to using disposable diapers the afternoon before a travel day, so that I could wash all the cloth diapers and pack them clean. Then right before heading to the airport I would put my daughter in a clean fitted diaper.

Another option is to designate a rolling carry-on suitcase for cloth diapers. So even if you end up with a couple wet cloth diapers in a wet bag, they are separated from your clothing and other items.

I love this tip of packing cloth diapers in a carry-on sized bag that's designated for cloth diapers only! When we started our current travels we didn't have a rolling carry-on suitcase. But as soon as we got one I set about test packing it with cloth diapers (and travel potties).

It's an awesome set up! Especially in the scenario that you are leaving home or your hotel with a couple wet diapers. You don't have to worry about the smell of dirty diapers mingling with your clean clothes! Just remember that wet diapers will weigh more than dry diapers, especially if you are flying on an airline with strict carry-on weight restrictions (like Air Asia).

The photo above shows a 20" rolling carry-on suitcase.

Packed on the left side is:

Packed on the right side is:

It's nice to bring along a travel potty for a potty training toddler or a baby practicing elimination communication. I included two travel potties in the photo so that you could see how they fit in a carry-on suitcase.

I use a small waterproof clutch to pack 1-2 cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and a changing pad, for quick trips to the bathroom, especially on the airplane. The airplane bathroom is so small that it's difficult to bring a whole diaper bag. Then I pack the rest of the diapers that I want access to on a travel day in my diaper backpack or carry-on bag.

Accessories to Pack for Cloth Diapering on Vacation

  • Cloth wipes (wetting them with just water is fine)
  • Wet/dry bags (for organizing luggage and carrying in diaper bag)
  • Large wet bag to use at your "home base" (hotel, apartment, friend or relative's house)
  • Optional: diaper sprayer, diaper liners, or something to scrape off poop
  • Optional: Waterproof puddle pad to protect the bed at night

Why Wool Diaper Covers are Awesome for Travel

Wool diaper covers are awesome for traveling

Wool diaper covers are awesome for traveling because they can serve both as a cloth diaper cover and as clothing, depending upon the style. The benefits of using woolies while traveling include:

  • Can go a long time between washes (around 2 weeks), so you may not need to wash them on your vacation.
  • Minimizes items to pack -serve as both diaper covers and clothing
  • Can keep rewearing over and over again. My daughter wears the same pair all day.
  • Can keep wearing even if they get wet in the rain or puddles
  • Great for nighttime
  • Comfortable in both hot and cold weather

Wool Washing Supplies for Wool Diapering on Vacation

Wool washing supplies on wool puddle pad and wet bag

Pin away!


That wraps up our tips on cloth diapering while on vacation or traveling long term. Do you have any more questions? Please share any of your tips or hacks in the comments! You may also be interested in reading our post about Elimination Communication While Traveling.

About Heidi Avelino

Heidi is passionate about spreading awareness of elimination communication and natural cloth diapering. She is an environmentalist and strives to live a minimalist and zero-waste lifestyle. Heidi practiced EC with each of her three children. Her eldest son and her daughter have reached potty independence. She is currently practicing EC with and cloth diapering her youngest son.