Cloth nappies when you’re away on holiday

A week ago our little family left for a holiday in the Northern Cape.

I have two toddlers in nappies. My kids differ by 18 months, so firstly, I had to take A LOT of cloth nappies along.

I checked ahead that I would have access to a washing machine at our final destination (where we stayed the longest). I didn’t have the guts to do nappies by hand as two little people use a lot of nappies in a day….

I decided to use Mother Nature’s biodegradable & flushable liners and Fancypants soapnuts to wash my nappies with. The Mother Nature liner choice is obvious as I didn’t want to cause blocked drains anywhere during our travels. The soapnuts I decided on because it wasn’t a liquid or powder that could potentially spill in the car for some obscure reason. All my wetbags went along: a Snappy Nappy wetbag in blue, a yellow Cherub Tree draw string wetbag and a blue check (small) Bam+Boo Baby wetbag. I also have a huge olive green one which I bought off Alva Baby. The small wetbags I used in the car for day trips and the large one stayed at the room we stayed in until it was time to wash them.

Our plan was to leave Saturday morning 10 o’clock as that is the time my daughter needs to nap, hoping she would nap in the car, which will make the drive a little easier. She is not a good traveler, as she keeps asking to be taken out her car seat, which is obviously not going to happen whilst we are driving! I had to make sure ALL our cloth nappies were washed and dried to take along. That meant that some of the nappies were in the tumble dryer to save time on the morning before we left. And, as Murphy’s law would have it, for the first time ever (in our family holiday history), we were packed and ready by 9am! That meant I had to take out the damp nappies from the tumble dryer. I put them in a laundry bag (the Mother Nature one to be exact as it is nice and big).

Our first stop was Vanrhynsdorp. We live in Cape Town, so it was a 300km drive approximately. We stayed at Lombards Guesthouse in Commercial street. I asked the owners whether they had a clothing rack or a tumbledryer I could use. They kindly helped me out with a clothing rack and access to their tumble dryer. Yay! I hung the covers on the drying rack inside our room and the inserts were tumble dried for us.

Covers on the drying rack

Covers on the drying rack

You’ll see on the left are see-through looking liners. These are Cherubs liners. These are NOT flushable, but I like their stay dry effect. I use them with night time nappies as my daughter has very sensitive skin.

The next morning (Sunday) we left for our final destination: Skilpad farm in the Namaqua Nature Reserve near Kamieskroon. Family of ours runs the farmstall there. (Skilpad is the Afrikaans word for “tortoise”.)

The weather on the farm was mostly clear but cold. Once it rained right through the night.

In total I washed 3 loads of nappies in the week we stayed at Skilpad. Because of the cool air they did take slightly longer to dry. I was lucky though that the washing machine there (Bosch Vario perfect 7kg) spins at 1000 rpm!

There were only showers at the places we stayed.  At Skilpad we put a bucket in the shower when we washed the kids.  They would play in the water whilst we washed them.  I would leave the bucket in the shower (filled with shower water) then in the morning I used that water to rinse the night nappies with.   I like to think that saved a little water 🙂

And the most amazing thing was the view I had from the washing line:

Cloth nappies on the line

Cloth nappies on the line

Cloth nappies on the line during our holiday
Cloth nappies on the line during our holiday

Cloth nappies.  Kind to Nature.

Cloth nappies. Kind to Nature.

What have I learned from our experience?

You CAN do cloth nappies when you are away from home. Just make sure that you will have access to appropriate laundry facilities. Also take into account the season (weather).

Cloth nappies take up a lot of space. Okay, maybe that one only applies if you have more than one child in cloth nappies.

For our next family holiday (if my kids are still in nappies) I will invest in a portable washing machine like the Sputnik. I think washing a few nappies every day might be easier than waiting for ‘big’ load to go into an automatic washing machine.

When travelling you need to be prepared for changing nappies in odd places. On the side of the road (in your car of course), rest stops (petrol stations), roadside restaurants like Engen One Stops (Wimpy), etc. Take along a towel, blanket or changing mat. We didn’t. I would also take along a sanitiser to clean the surface or area where you will change your baby. In Piketberg we filled our car with petrol and I went to change the kids’ nappies. The toilet in there had those Koala baby changing stations. The only problem was that I have two toddlers, not babies, so it was either that flimsy Koala changing station or the floor. I ended up using the changing station, but kept my one knee underneath the changing station for fear it would collapse! Some rest rooms had a baby changing room which was awesome! I wish all baby rooms could be separate. Why are changing stations inside ladies toilets? Dads can change nappies too! Normally my husband helps because it’s just safer in a strange area with two small children as they could run off. When I was using the Koala changing station in Piketberg, there was no door to close and it wasn’t near a toilet to flush poop.

Your checklist for doing cloth nappies on holiday:

2 x wetbags (one large one small for car)
changing towel/blanket/mat
Flushable wetwipes and liners (or your own cloth wipes and liners if you prefer)
Bucket (to rinse night nappies in if you don’t want to use the basin)

Check what is available at your destination: washing line, clothing rack, tumble dryer, pegs, washing machine, etc.
A portable washing machine like the Sputnik or simply use a bucket & plunger

Using cloth nappies on holiday wasn’t hard.  It was fun being “out of routine” with washing nappies – different machine, new surroundings and beautiful nature around us.  I felt good not leaving any disposables in bins.

If there is anything I’ve missed, please comment.  Have you used cloth nappies whilst on holiday?