To cloth or not to cloth while travelling?

Thinking of travelling, looking forward to that holiday... but should you cloth or not? ✈️🧺🌍
I was in that position recently when I went back to my home country of New Caledonia to spend time with my family after 3 years of not being able to see them due to Covid 19!
So I wanted to share a few tips.


Here we are the flight, on our way yipee!


To clarify - this blog is about travelling and staying in houses or hotels, not camping. That will be a blog for another time as it is a bit different again! But there are similarities.


First of all, you're probably wondering... where is New Caledonia?? No hurt feelings here, it's a pretty small place and still not that well known. This is where:


And what's it like??

Well it looks like this:



A tropical island with French heritage, a rich melting pot of cultures (from French to Melanesian, Vietnamese and other Pacific Islands), modern hotels, restaurants and facilities. Beautiful beaches and UNESCO World Heritage recognised coral reef. The 2nd largest coral reef after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

This is a great website to check out if you want to know more: The official guide for New Caledonia Tourism


Of course, the point of a holiday is to relax and enjoy some family time and bringing your cloth nappies might seem like the opposite of that.


So there are a few things to consider to decide:

1. Plan ahead 📖

Are you the only one motivated to use cloth nappies, will your partner help? Or will you stay with family and there will be help with the laundry so you can have a bit of a break? Or maybe you don't find it a chore and that doesn't even bother you.






How long are you staying? If it's a short trip it's definitely some hassle but if you are staying a couple of weeks then it might be more worth it. That will really depend on how you feel and what you are prepared to do. I've gone camping for 3 nights and still brought my Real Nappies no issues with just prewashing by hand and leaving them until I got home for a long hot main wash for example. Or you can cloth part time and bring disposable for night time, it is really up to you.

How many nappies will you need? This will depend on how old baby is. Are you going somewhere where there is a drier, or dry weather or will it be a hot and humid country so nappies may take a while to line dry? Work out your current usage per day and get enough for a rotation based on what you know. If you end up short, you can always buy disposables to get you by!

Well, apart from in Vanuatu. Did you know that in December 2019, Vanuatu became the first country in the world to impose bans on single use nappies? Amazing isn't it! Since then they have been working to transition, and reusable nappies are used by everyone and hotels provide nappy laundering services.

A good reason to holiday in Vanuatu, well done to them on that front!


2. Research laundry facilities 🤲🧺💦

Will you have access to laundry facilities? This could be in the form of an actual washing machine or a laundry service. Are they ok with washing cloth nappies? Or what kind of washing machine do they have. Can you hot wash in it or is it cold only? If cold wash only, you will need to either somehow get hot water into that machine or use bleach in your wash.

Bring your supply of detergent if you can or buy local. It is a good idea to bring enough to get you started for a few days until you have a chance to look into a supermarket. A lot of our detergents have equivalents in other countries, similar looking packaging but different name. Or ask at reception or locals what is a good quality detergent.

Check that you will have somewhere or something to hang your washing on: if you are unsure, it doesn't take much room to bring a length of washing line string and a few pegs. You can always find a couple of chairs to tie the string in between for a makeshift washing line.


3. Pack strategically 🧳

I went to New Caledonia for 7 weeks and didn't need to buy an extra bag to put my baby's reusable nappies and clothes as she could share a bag with her big sister.

I recommend packing your nappies completely undone, prefolds and covers flat in the bag. They take a lot less volume that way.

You could vacuum pack them but check that you can do the same for the way back!!


4. Be prepared for delays 

Travel plans can sometimes be unpredictable, and you may encounter delays or unexpected situations while you are going to your destination. Pack a few extra nappies in your carry-on bag to account for any unforeseen circumstances that may extend your travel time.


5. Wet bags 🧺💦

Bring wet bags to store your nappies in when you are on the go or if you move around from day to day.

If staying in a hotel/house, there will always be somewhere you can pop your wet bag open to air the nappies out by a window, on a balcony or something like that. Remove the solid poos as soon as you can or leave them closed up and do it all at the end of the day.

Check out the Real Nappies wet bags HERE


6. Use disposable liners ♻️

They will help by making cleanup easier while not creating more washing. Disposable liners are placed on top of the prefold/insert to catch solid waste, making it easier to dispose of the waste without having to rinse the nappy immediately. And it will make washing easier, especially if the wash routine is a bit shaky compared to your normal.

The Real Nappies biodegradable liners are perfect for this.


7. Use flats, preflats or prefolds 💚

They are the most versatile while travelling. These will be much easier to wash and dry compared to thick nappy pad inserts.

They are much more forgiving when a less than ideal wash routine is used temporarily.

And because they unfold, much quicker to dry!

Real Nappies have flats and prefolds to fit the bill. Our booster pads are also good to have for night time or to use instead of the flats or prefolds.

Check them out HERE

8. Stay Positive and Flexible 👪

Traveling with reusable nappies may require some additional effort but remember the environmental and financial benefits they still bring. Stay positive, be flexible, and embrace the opportunity to continue using cloth nappies even when you're away from home. It's amazing how even a mundane task like doing the washing is not as bad when you are on holiday!


My little cloth bottom in her red snug wrap, she was sucking her toes all the time at that stage! 


Top Tip: Even if the wash routine is less than ideal compared to your usual, as long as you follow the general principles of a good wash routine, you will not harm your baby and your nappies will survive:

  • Use hot water whenever possible, if hot water is not available use bleach diluted in your wash.
  • Use a good quality detergent, add a booster in your prewash to help.
  • Prewash by hand in a sink or laundry bucket if using the washing machine for both washes is not feasible.
  • Bring a piece of stain remover like Sard soap to help get rid of pesky stains.
  • Bulk your main wash as best you can to get good agitation/friction during the wash


My first Real Nappies user, enjoying the warm water at the beach in the village of Touho where I grew up.


So on my holiday, we were staying with my parents at an off-grid house with solar to power a small washing machine and hot water.

Now I didn't find that the agitation was particularly good in that machine even with all the things I tried and the fact that it was small so it could be bulked easily. I think the motor on it was just small and not super powerful.

I also had to try a couple of different detergents (one my Mum already had which was average and then I bought another with enzymes which was much better).

The soiled nappies sat unfolded in an outdoor laundry sink, it was the start of summer with humid 25 degrees C days but we didn't have issues with flies. We left the wet nappies but prewashed the soiled nappies by hand to reduce the chance of flies being attracted.

I did need to do a sanitise half-way through our holiday as I wanted to look after my nappies and do a reset as we were there for 7 weeks.

Now to be clear, the nappies were not stinky or heavily stained. Just a faint off-smell and some shadow stains from time to time that I needed to put the prefolds through a second wash to get rid of. No biggie!


Now go on and enjoy that holiday that I am sure you deserve!

All will be well.



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