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Real Nappies on the Road—Ann's Way
by Ann Maclean
Spring 2007

As a fairly new devotee of cloth diapers, I found myself planning a six week trip from our temporary home in St Andrews, Scotland throughout England, back to Scotland, and finally home to the United States. It seemed we stayed in every possible type of accommodation: hotel, bed and breakfast, self-catering, and with friends or family. I wasn't totally sure that I could manage to remain faithful to cloth without access to a washing machine, so I tried to plan ahead as best I could and decided that I would not be ashamed of myself if I couldn't do it in every one of our locations.

For diapers, we decided to bring with us nine fitteds, two flats (they dry faster if need arose- and it did), four bamboo diapers, and three covers. As accessories, we brought a Brookstone travel hanging line (basically a bungy cord with clothespins attached), plastic bags, and a bottle of washing detergent. I could have probably done with two of the Brookstone hanging lines on hindsight. We brought about eight disposables with us, as we did not know what lay ahead. We had a rental car for the entire duration, and it was nice to be able to carry the dirty diapers separately from our luggage.

Self-catering is the name the Brits have for week-long rentals equipped with kitchens. I assumed many of these places would have washing machines, but I decided to ask ahead so that we could do some advance planning. Many times they did not. None had a drier. Once I nailed down our itinerary, I searched the internet for addresses/phones of local laundrettes to bring with us. I could pretty much calculate where there would be a problem before we even left our house.

When a friend of the family asked us to come to her house for a leisurely lunch one day while in the Southampton area, I emailed back asking if we could also throw in a load of laundry. When my friend in London asked us to stay with her, we had already booked a hotel, but I asked if she would mind us using her washer instead. As we planned our trip, people were glad to help us and impressed with our endeavor. Once we got on the road, it was great advertising for real diapers, which already has quite a turnout in the UK. Obviously if one could do it travelling for six weeks, then it was easy enough to do.

There was only one time on our trip that my husband and I would refer to as the 'nappy nightmare'. (Nappy is the British word for diaper.) It was one of our first stops near Newcastle. I knew the place we were staying did not have washing facilities, so we brought with us the locations of three laudrettes. Newcastle is a big place, so I figured surely we would be close to at least one of them. I would say we easily spent a couple hours driving around looking for these places. The first one we found (after getting lost several times) closed at noon on the day we were there, and it was 1 pm when we arrived. The second one had been turned into a hair stylist, and the third was on a street that didn't exist. The latter was the one that really threw us for a loop. We must have asked four people in that neighborhood before we actually believed them that the street wasn't there! We left the city feeling very dejected. That night I washed the diapers in the sink and hung them up using our hanging line.

It was so easy that there would be several, more, future nights when we would opt to stay in and wash in the sink. Our system was three days of daytime diapers with four nighttime diapers, the first night of which was our wash night. We needed simply to plan ahead and always keep in mind when night 4 was going to be. One time when night 4 (“nappy night” we called it) fell on the first of two nights we were planning to be in a bed and breakfast, we just did the wash one night early while we were still in a location with a washer; this got us through to the next location without having to do the wash at the b/b.

All in all, successfully travelling with cloth was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Perhaps my son (of 4.5-6 mo.s) was not a heavy wetter; perhaps the fact that he was only on breastmilk made the poo bearable. For whatever reason, we managed to do it easily. At the end of our trip, I found the eight disposables we had packed 'just in case'. They didn't even fit our son anymore as he had grown out of them in the time we were gone! I didn't bother packing them for the trip home to the US.

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