Travelling with cloth nappies – what we’ve done and what we’d do next time

Eli on holiday in the UK.

When you’re using cloth nappies full-time going on holiday – or any extended stay away from home – means a decision is to be made, do the nappies stay or do they go? I’ve been away twice with Eli, once on a 5 day family holiday in the UK and soon after to South Africa for two weeks when my father passed away suddenly whilst on holiday there with my Mum.

Obviously these were two completely different types of trips but whether or not to take my cloth nappies with me was definitely a consideration both times.

For our holiday in the UK the choice wasn’t too hard: we were only going for 5 days and I knew I had enough nappies even though we didn’t have access to a washing machine. As we were travelling by car we had enough space to pack our full complement of nappies. The only issue was where to store the dirty nappies – a nappy bucket wasn’t an option so we needed a good-sized wet bag (or two) which would zip shut to keep any smells contained. After a bit of research I found a set of Bum Deal wet bags which did the job brilliantly. It was great, no need to buy disposables and all I had to do was to put the nappy wash on as soon as we got home.

Eli at my Mum’s house in South Africa.

Travelling to South Africa was a bit different. It was an unplanned trip (obviously) and organising an emergency passport for Eli and sorting last minute plane tickets were immediate considerations. Whether or not to pack cloth nappies was a consideration though once everything else was sorted. I didn’t do it though, I bought two weeks worth of eco-disposables (not something easily available in SA) and it was okay. If I had to do it again though I would do it differently. Firstly as I stayed at my brother’s flat and my Mum’s house washing wouldn’t have been an issue. Secondly the weather in SA would have meant nice and easy nappy drying as well.

So, if you’re flying and packing space is at a premium and weight is an issue, what nappies could you take? I probably wouldn’t bother taking night nappies – a few disposables would be a lot easier to pack than a bulky two-part nappy. I wouldn’t take many (if any) of my all-in-one nappies as they’re fairly bulky too. That leaves my gNappies, which, thinking about it now – now I’m not stressing about supporting Mum and finding appropriate clothes for Eli to wear to a funeral – would have been the perfect choice. I’ve never used gRefills (the disposable inserts for the nappies) but the hybrid nature of the nappies would have been really useful. Taking all my gCloth (cloth inserts) along with a few packs of gRefills would have been possible (I managed to take a few packs of disposable nappies after all) and I could have used a mix of both depending which was more appropriate at the time. Disposable inserts for the plane and long car journeys and cloth whenever possible.

So, on reflection, whilst travelling abroad with cloth nappies seemed really difficult at the time, a hybrid system would have been perfect. Most of the benefits of full-time cloth but also the steady freeing up of space (for presents and suchlike) that using up disposables resulted in. Plus, using the cloth would have meant not as much money needing to be spent on the disposables – pleasing the skinflint in me – or too much heading to landfill – keeping the eco side of me happy.

Our nappies – Itti Bitti, My Little Patch and Bum Deal wet bags

If you use cloth nappies then at some point you will need to change a nappy outside of the house and then you will need to figure out a way of returning said nappy home so that you can wash it. Some people simply use nappy bags or supermarket bags but I much prefer to use a purpose made wet bag. When I used cloth nappies with Tilly I had one wet bag – it was big, drawstring neck and not particularly pretty. Now I have 8 wet bags, which sounds excessive but I’ve needed each of them although they aren’t all in my regular rotation.

We have:

All of my bags work for the purpose for which they were designed but are different in a variety of ways. In order of least to most favourite for day to day use my wet bags are:-

Junior Joy Wet Bag

This is not the prettiest of the bags I own but it was reasonably priced and it does the job. I think it’s a little big for daily use but it can hold a day or mores worth of nappies if needed. I used it for overspill before I bought my second nappy bucket but it’s retired for the moment. I tend to prefer zippered bags now and this one has a drawstring which I think tends to lead to more smells if the nappies have to remain in it for a while.

Bum Deal Wet Bags

We have 4 of these wet bags – 1 in each of the sizes they make; small, medium, large and x-large. I bought a set because we wanted to take our nappies on holiday with us and needed a big wet bag that could hold a lot of nappies and would contain their smell as well. The XL Bum Deal wet bag was brilliant – I used it to store all the day nappies and its slightly smaller sibling the L bag to contain the night nappies. The zips did a great job of holding in smells and I could fit a lot of nappies in both. Having the option to buy the bags in a set – for much less than all four together – made these bags very economical too. I don’t use them regularly but that’s no reflection on the bags, it’s just that I prefer to use my double wet bags (My Little Patch) day to day. I would definitely take the Bum Deals if we headed off on holiday again.

Itti Bitti Wet Bag

This was the second wet bag I ever bought and I used it regularly until I bought my first double wet bag. It’s still in use as my back up bag for when I’m going to be out for a while and will need additional wet nappy storage. The Itti Bitti wet bags are a perfect size for nappy changes when you’re out and about as they hold about 4 nappies and fold down small when not in use. They aren’t the cheapest bags available (keep an eye out for sales) but they do look great as they’re available in the same colours and prints as the Itti Bitti nappies.

My Little Patch

I love my My Little Patch bags. The choice of sizes and fabrics is fantastic and the bags can be hung from a wrist or buggy. Both my bags are medium doubles. This means that they have two pockets and so I can put clean nappies and my bag of wipes in one side and dirty nappies on the other. I often just take the wet bag instead of a fully changing bag if I’m not out for long as it cuts down on all the stuff I end up carrying otherwise. These aren’t cheap bags but they are well made and there are regular sales and discounts offered (hence why I just had to buy one more), plus loads of different fabrics to choose from.

So, that’s our wet bags – an essential but not one that needs to be any less pretty than the fluff it carries.