Guest post by Jessica Menon.
I have flown on over 50 international flight segments to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America with my now fourteen month old daughter since she was six weeks old. I’ll admit that although I am a committed cloth diaper user, most of the time earlier on I have opted to use disposable diapers for our flight journeys. Some journeys have been over thirty hours long with two stopovers, and the thought of hauling around soiled cloth diapers in my carry-on for the trip just seemed…heavy.
However, there are several reasons why I more recently have opted to use cloth diapers on long flights. First, when I fly to many developing places in the world such as India, I know that trash invariably ends up in river beds, and I have huge guilt around tossing soiled disposable diapers on the plane, not knowing exactly where they will end up. Second, since I use cloth diapers 100% of the time at home, I already have all the supplies I need, and buying disposable diapers and wipes just for a journey is a hassle for me. Lastly, I’ve found that it’s just not that big of a deal to bring along the cloth for the trip.
When my daughter was a newborn, she went through about 20 diapers a day. The mere bulk of bringing along 20 or more cloth diapers depending on the length of a flight journey was a bit impractical when she was younger, and I never did try flying with that number of cloth diapers in my carry-on when she was that age. Now that she is a toddler, she goes through less than half of that, and packing 10 cloth diapers in my carry-on is a bit more realistic to me.
Now when I pack my carry-on for a long flight, I pack enough cloth diapers to last the length of the journey plus three extra, which typically ends up being around 10-12 diapers for a 24 hour journey with my fourteen month old. This can get bulky in the diaper bag, so I choose cloth diaper brands to travel with that are slimmer in size. I also use two compression sacks to save space; these are frequently used by hikers/ campers to squeeze down sleeping bags and bulky coats to tiny rock-hard sizes. I pack all the clean diapers in one sack, and have a spare one handy where I put all the dirty used diapers. On shorter domestic flights, or road trips, which are 2- 5 hours long, I pack 4-5 cloth diapers, and generally don’t need compression sacks to keep the bulk down.
I pack an equal number of small cloth diaper wet/dry bags (10-12), put each used cloth diaper and cloth wipe in one wet/dry bag, and then place the bag with the dirty diaper into the dirty diaper compression sack. This also keeps the dirty diapers, and the smell, contained, for the journey and through security checks. Once I’ve arrived at my destination, everything in the dirty bag simply gets dumped in the wash.
In addition to the cloth diapers, wet bags, and compression sacks, I also pack 15 cloth wipes that I keep moistened with plain water in another small wet bag so they are moist and ready to use wherever I am. I’ve also opted for using flushable disposable wipes while on the go, but I’ve found that using cloth wipes is just as easy since I’m already tossing dirty diapers into the wet bags. I do use flushable disposable liners that I toss in the toilet if one is nearby, and if there isn’t, I just keep it with the diaper in the wet bag and dispose of it once I reach my destination.
It did at first seem much simpler and easier to just use disposable diapers when traveling with my baby, but as a regular cloth diaper user, flying with cloth diapers is not much different than hauling around cloth diapers and wet bags on outings to the park. It’s easier logistically for me not having to worry about buying disposable diapers before a trip, and I’m accustomed to it. One thing that I have never grown accustomed to, though, is the smell upon opening that dirty diaper sack at the end of the trip!
For more on traveling with cloth diapers or traveling with babies, please visit my blog: www.gypsymomma.com.
I’m a mom with a fourteen month old, Veda, and I travel internationally for work frequently. Although my husband and I have a home in Chicago, we spend 80 to 90% of our time traveling out of the country.
I am not a medical doctor or expert of any kind; I am just a mom with lots of experience traveling internationally to developing countries while pregnant and with an infant/ toddler. I personally find that breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and the Dr. Sears attachment parenting approach works best for us. That means I do my best to ensure I am emotionally and physically connecting with my baby, and that I respond to the unique needs of my baby, and not to a schedule or clock. This works really well for me and my family, and I find it is especially compatible with international travel, which requires flexibility, adaptation, and mutual understanding with my child.