It was time to go over the river and through the woods to Great Grandmother's house and I had done what I thought was ample research about cloth diapering and traveling with an 8 month old. I'd decided to use my Grovia shells with disposable inserts, something I had never tried at home. We made it about 4 hours out of town before it became apparent that things were going to go explosively wrong…and we had 9 more hours of driving to go.
We had just stopped at the last gas station for miles and miles around when I heard the thunder from the middle of the packed family van. I knew instantly that I was not prepared for what I was about to find behind car seat number one. In an attempt to save room in the diaper bag, I'd only packed one change of clothing for our son. The even worse news, his and my suitcase, being the biggest and heaviest, was nestled at the bottom of the precariously towering pile of luggage in the trunk.
It was December and the weather outside was truly frightful, the wind chill below freezing. Driving an hour or so back to the gas station to use the bathroom, which had no changing station, was not an option…I'd have to open the huge side door of the van and change my son's clothing, diaper and clean his car seat while trying to keep his poor little body, my toes and my in-laws from freezing as the winter wind whistled into the van.
I opened the diaper bag, fished out the change of clothing, new shell and insert, wet bag and wipes. I quickly laid my son down on the changing pad which I had placed on the floor below his car seat. I tried very hard to remove his one-sie without further soiling his body or getting it on his head. I did not succeed. The entire process took about 20 minutes and ended with a very upset and frozen baby, a poopy mess in the wet bag (making all subsequent changes even worse) and a very distraught momma. I said a quick prayer that "the mess" had been a fluke and things wouldn't get worse.
I don't recall how many more freezing adventures we had on our snowy drive to Great Grandma's but I did learn a few valuable lessons from that trip.
Number 1: Always give any diapering system a test run before using it on vacation. You might be surprised that what works for other people doesn't for you and vice-versa.
Number 2: Forget what other people think and go with what you know will work, even if the thought of using your regular diapers on a road trip makes some of the other passengers a little nervous.
Number 3: When possible, pack several changes of clothing in your diaper bag, including a spare shirt for yourself. Poop and throw up on your shirt is never a stylish or comfortable way to travel.
Number 4: If you have two small wet bags, pack them both. Better to have an extra one for extreme messes than get messy every time you have to open the one you brought.
Number 5: Dress your child in clothing that is easily removed without going over their head.
Number 6: Always pack a trash bag and have it within reach.
Number 7: Most importantly, learn to smile and laugh at cloth diaper disasters while traveling. Find humor and joy in all of life's messes. Learn from your mistakes, take note and move on!
Mindy Hill is a cloth diaper addict. She is also the blessed mother of a 16 month old boy and expecting her second fluffy butt in September.