The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Elimination Communication
As if doing EC isn't (at times) tricky enough for Western parents while at home...taking it on the road can add a-whole-nother dimension.
Have you ever had the joy of changing a diaper in an airplane lavatory?
How about a sitting amidst a giant poopie diaper blow-out while you're on a bus (with no bathroom for miles)?
Or lugging around a huge diaper bag while sightseeing, including the subsequent tricky diaper changes in a cacophony of interesting, non-Koala-changing-table-equipped locales?
Pottying your baby while you travel can save you mess, money, frustration, and time.
(To the inexperienced ECer, it can also be terrifying to imagine...or plan.)
Yet it can also turn out to be much more successful than your in-home EC practice. (Go figure!)
By following some simple guidelines (scroll to the end of this post for the summary of my tips), you can EC abroad with ease.
The photo journey and suggestions I'm about to share might even help the general experience of traveling with your baby or toddler be much more joyous and stress-free.
Planes, trains, automobiles...and baby potties
We started Elimination Communication at birth, went to our first camping festival when our son was 1 month old, I flew out of state (solo) with our son at age 3 months, we did some more extensive camping and festival-going at 10-12 months, and at 14 months we did a 3 month traveling tour of Thailand...ECing all the while.
You could say I've got a tiny bit of personal experience on the subject. And loads more helping my readers in my private support group.
Airports, international flights, buses, tuk-tuks, cabs, cars, camping...you name it, I've done it.
Smack in the midst of transit. Safely. Bungalows, the beach, hiking, camping....
All discreetly, respectfully, and efficiently. And you can too.
A Photo Journey of ECing During Travel
The following series of photos and instructional commentary will hopefully simplify the whole matter of ECing on-the-go and ECing abroad for you...making travel with your baby a diaper-free or diaper-independent endeavor.
Whether you're just doing a 2 hour road trip or a year-long, world-wide tour, I hope that I can help set an example for some of you...and perhaps inspire others to give it a whirl in the first place.
Like I mentioned earlier, I'll end this whole post with a concise list of tips for traveling abroad while maintaining your EC practice with your baby...pottying all the way.
Disclosure Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from purchases made through the links on this page.
Without further ado, here is the Infant Potty Training -related photo collection from our Thailand trip, 2011-2012, with our (then) 14-16 month old son:
13 Tips for Pottying Your Baby During Travel
1. Any time you enter a building, including airports, bus depots, a store, your new hotel, a bar in the jungle...spot the public restroom and offer a pottytunity FIRST. If your baby or toddler doesn't want or need to go at that time, at least you'll know where the facilities are when the time does come.
2. Wear your baby. I can not say enough about this. Not only is it easier to pack (and travel with) only your Ergo or Moby Wrap instead of a stroller, you'll find that you're in deep contact with your child's every need. EC signals are most easily felt when you wear your baby...and how about those "phantom pees" where you feel wet but aren't (when really what's going on is that the baby actually has a full bladder and needs to pee)? Well, those are pretty hard to feel when your baby is far away from your body in a stroller.
3. Travel with a mini potty. This can be a Baby Bjorn Smart or Little Potty, a bEcoPotty (my favorite for the size, style, and compostability), a top hat potty, or a folding toilet seat reducer to use on most toilets worldwide. You'll generally want a mini potty with you to set up a "potty station" near the bathroom of your temporary home(s)...if you typically use mini potties at home. And when the airplane lavatory is full and your child signals a need to poo, you'll be glad to have your little potty with you in your carry-on! (Remember, diaper bags count as a free extra carry-on...stick your little potty in there [inside a plastic bag] with whatever clothing or diaper back-up you use, your wipees, and your butt balm).
4. Be discreet, respectful, and clean up after yourself. Try to find a public restroom first. If that fails, do not just EC out in the open. Find a very secluded place to do the deed. Bring doggie poo bags or have a plastic bag handy at all times...and use it to scoop up and dispose of poop when it's deposited anywhere in city or nature. If you don't have that and you're on a remote trail, you can bury it, cover it with earth matter, or scoop it out of the main path.
5. Don't over-pack. I recommend packing what you usually use to EC while you're at home, bring a wet bag to hold any soiled or wet clothing, and only pack as many EC-related clothing items as regular clothing items. Example: if you are packing 7 days worth of clothes to launder during your travels...then only pack 7 days worth of EC gear (back-up, diapers, etc.). Bring a dim nightlight or flashlight to use if you do nighttime EC. You can also pack a wool puddle pad to put over any bed you are sleeping on together (even a yard of 100% wool felt will work - about $25 at a fabric store).
6. Use a back-up as a "tool" ANY time you, the parent, feel like you'll be too stressed to incorporate potty awareness into your schedule. A back-up can be training pants, a cloth diaper, or even a disposable (even if you don't normally use them). Your baby will probably signal anyway, and you will probably potty her anyway, but knowing the back-up is there will help you travel more calmly. Remember, "diaper-free" means free from dependence upon diapers...not necessarily naked (or scantily clad) when other options might make more sense.
7. Sit in the bulkhead/bassinet seats on airplanes. If you have a lap baby on an airplane that is equipped with them, and your child is small enough (in weight) to qualify, reserve the on-plane bassinet and enjoy the hands-free naps AND the vastly larger legroom (where your potty will fit nicely into the decor!). Confirm once, twice, and a third time prior to your trip and at check-in...for some reason there is often confusion about who reserved the seat, the bassinet, and when.
8. When you arrive at your hotel room, bungalow, campground, or relative's house, set up your potty station FIRST and offer a pottytunity to your babe after saying, "This is where your potty will be while we're here." You can decorate the area with removable stickers or a familiar toy to make it inviting. Make it comfortable...but you can also just stick it in the bathroom next to the big toilet and be matter-of-fact about the whole thing. This is where we pee. 'Nuff said.
9. If you do nighttime EC, set up your usual array of tools (potty, dim light or flashlight, etc.) just like you would at home...next to the bed or wherever. Put your wool puddle pad underneath the sheets and use a back-up at night if you usually use that (we do!). If you're using mosquito netting, I recommend wrapping the net around your sleep area while keeping your potty and other tools within the net's inner perimeter to prevent yet another barrier to ECing in the middle of the dark night.
10. When out sightseeing or visiting friends, family, new places...bring your baby to the bathroom with you every time YOU need to go. In addition to any signals received while wearing baby, this sort of timing-based pottying will seem easier to you because you'll be including him in your potty activities. No brainer!
11. If your baby is being passed around to friends and family, put him in a back-up for those hours so everyone else feels comfortable. If you notice a signal during these times, politely ask for your baby and don't go into long explanations. Do the deed and return him to the baby-passing-shuffle. You can also extract him from the crowd based on clock or natural timing, offer a pottytunity, and return him to the oogling faces without a word.
12. Continue to catch the easy ones (after sleeping, a certain amount of time after feeding, using generic and natural timing, upon a diaper change, etc.), pay attention to your intuition, and overall just be consistent. If you're only committed to doing the morning pee, only do that. If you are used to doing full-time EC, step it up and be extra-present (without hovering or being potty-centered) to maintain your practice while abroad. Remember...pottying your baby is just like fulfilling any other of her innate needs, like feeding, sleeping, or play...so if you can handle feeding your baby while abroad, you can probably handle pottying her too! :)
13. If you have a lot of misses in a short period of time...know that this is normal. You are all in flux. Seemingly eternal transition. All of your awareness has expanded to include elephants, busy restaurants, unfamiliar surroundings, and strange noises. Naturally pottying could move to the back of everyone's minds. Just stay consistent, do what you can, and take advantage of the community's laundering services. Don't feel like a failure. Use a back-up if you need to. But do not, I repeat, do not, just give up EC because you're traveling. Your consistency and commitment must stay strong during these times, and no matter your catch rate (shame on you for keeping track! Hehe...:) ) you WILL get back on track when you return home. (And know that our trip actually enhanced our EC practice instead of undermining it. It's all about your mindset.)
I hope this post helps you incorporate EC into your upcoming travel plans. You can always pick up my book where you'll get access to my private support group where I can help you further in case you've got more questions.
In closing, what tricks and techniques have you used to make ECing while abroad possible for you and your family? Do you have any fun stories to share?
Please post them below and, if ya can, please click "Like" below to share this post with your friends!
Thanks! <3 Andrea
Disclosure Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from purchases made through the links on this page.
Thanks! this was really encouraging! Any bystander reactions to pottying on seats?
I was curious about the same thing. I will be traveling with my 14 month old to Asia in a month and will be on a 15 hour flight on our first leg of the flight and was wondering if there was an issue with the potty being set up by your seat on the plane.
Great questions you two! During my trip to Texas from California when Kaiva was 3 months old, the flight attendant actually thought the 2 year old across the aisle had used the potty at his seat…when she realized it was my son, she was SUPER impressed and practically announced it to the whole airplane! My neighbors on this plane were grandparents themselves and didn’t seem to mind (or notice) at all when my son did a #2 (and the engine was so loud no one really heard it, including me).
During our international travels with a young toddler, everyone near us, including the uber-polite Korean flight attendants, seemed very helpful and not really all that interested in what we were doing. In fact, I’d say there was a shared understanding…and I bet some of the adults themselves were wishing they’d had a potty at their seats (you know when you have to wait and wait and wait for that light to come on?)….
So, yep, not an issue on those or other travels of ours. People were either uninterested or very understanding, sometimes even impressed.
My suggestion is to just stay super-low-key about it and just do the deed when necessary. I mean, some folks change a diaper AT their seats…which is grosser? Or more difficult? :)
Thank you for this wonderful amazing EC story adventure. After subcribing to your blog ive been diaperless with my 20 mth old and it has been wonderul. She of course had a few m sses but that was to be expected. I do pay more attention to her EC cues and take her to the potty regulary. I even have the one i see in your pictures which is so cool but i didnt think to bring it with me when we travel, i just bring extra cloth. Next time i will and see how that goes.
Thank you again for sharing.
Thanks for your comment, Stephanie! I’m so happy to hear that EC is going well for you guys. Always great to hear :) Definitely let us know how it goes next time when you bring your potty with ya! Hugs xoxo
I give this 2 stars ** :))
Thank you very much for this guide Andrea. Its wonderful and those pictures of Kaiva are really cute. In the spirit of sharing, our pottying experience with our now 6 month old girl has been mainly on catching number twos (poos), instead of pees, although we sometimes do catch pees too. Hence, our travel-pottying experience has been much the same. Call it selective pottying but it was mainly out of convenience for us as we found she peed too many times for us to keep up. Plus her pee signals were so quick and subtle we found it hard to pick up on them. She has been using the potty chair in the last month or so and her diapers (we use both cloth and disposables) rarely has number twos now. Also, now that her cloth diapers are more absorbent, we are using them more than before. Hopefully overtime, we will see more pees in her potty than in her diaper. I’m trying to convince my husband to use cloth during our travels but he fears leaking and sees washing as a burden. We’ll work it out….
Hey Nha…thanks for sharing your experience with us all…I think it’s very helpful to hear how you guys have chosen to EC. I am ALL for reducing the number of poopy diaper changes, myself. And if you catch a pee in there too, great! I think you’ve got a really balanced perspective on this, you’re really clear on your goals/expectations with the practice, and you’re also hoping to move towards more cloth diapers (Mother Earth thanks you!). Hubby will definitely realize as your little darlin gets older that she’s even more consistent with her signals when you guys are out and about…and cloth (and even undies) will eventually become your norm. So happy to hear what you all are doing! :) Andrea
Excellent tips. I had no idea about bulkheads and bassinets on planes.
They are indeed the best kept secret of long distance travel with infants and babes! So happy to help. :)
Let me just say, I think it would have been easier to go to Thailand than where we did travel — my grandma’s house. Diaper-free time was out of the question. The whole house was full of a really elegant carpet, and I was told several times to be careful not to let the baby spit up on her couch, as it can’t be cleaned. Um, I’ll get right on that I guess….
I left cloth diapers (prefolds) lying around for five minutes, and my grandma would THROW THEM AWAY. She thought cloth diapering was ridiculous — why do it when now there are these wonderful plastic ones? So I didn’t even tell her about EC.
The other challenge is that I was traveling with TWO kids, and the older (not EC’d) one was really thrown off his groove by traveling, to the point where I had to be with him and holding him almost nonstop. The baby was more adaptable, so he got passed around a lot more.
When it came down to it, EC just wasn’t top of the priority list. I caught a few pees on waking, and did some diaper-free time during the first hour of the morning, when we were up before the rest of the family, but for all the rest of the time we just did diapers. Baby was three months and just peeing way too often to keep up otherwise. But as soon as we were back home, we started back up. Only took a day or two to get back to our groove!
Oh I’m so happy to hear that you escaped, errrr, got back safely! Hehe. That sounds like a really challenging trip whether one ECs or not. I’m very impressed by how you managed to maintain a balance and a nice part-time EC practice with your 3 month old while at her home, and that you are back on track already. Wonderful!! Thanks for sharing your story with us!! :)
Very helpful tips! While I still haven’t gotten past the first chapter (because I keep on putting it off), I have a question regarding the mini potty. We’re starting with EC, usually able to catch the morning pee and poop, and sometimes pees during the day, and we’re doing these in the big potty. We’re also using cloth diapers. We’re travelling in a month and I wonder if having a mini potty within reach will be really necessary if we don’t use it at home. Won’t it confuse the child? He’s 7 1/2 months right now. Thanks!
Hey Pat! How long is your flight? You can always use the latrine on the airplane, and public restrooms while out and about, plus the big potty in your hotel/living space. I wouldn’t bring it unless you plan on integrating it into your EC at that time (in which case you can read my book for more on transition to the mini potty. I think you should keep doing what you’re doing, as it’s working! Your intuition is right-on. :) xx Andrea
Nice post, Andrea, love the pics!! The airplane story reminds me of our flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco when our daughter was five months old (now 4 momths ago). We did exactly like you do, after entering the plane as one of the firsts (all passengers travelling with babies…) and husband checked out the nearest toilet. He just wanted to enter a random one when a flight attendAnt warned him: please pick a toilet with a change-table sign. He replied: thank you, but she’ll be using the toilet.
When he left the lavatory there were TWO attendants waiting for them, asking: Sir, excuse me, did I really understand you correctly………. :-D
Later on they asked us not to change any diapers outside of the lavatory. Well, just didn’t tell that we were planning to use a travel potty if needed.
We did that whole 11 hour flight with one size one diaper (she was 5,5 months) and the 9 days CA trip with cloth diapers, thankfully no poop.
Still proud on the little globetrotter!
In general, respect to you!! In the NL I feel much more comfortable to let her go outside, in a park or whatever, than in California! I love the fact that you’re just finding your own way! During summer, peeing outside sometimes just gave such a good feeling. To follow her needs but also to receive lovely reactions from random people seeing what we were doing!
I loved reading your response, MT! Thank you so much for sharing your very funny airplane pottying experience. You guys did GREAT on your trip!! And yeah it is such a good feeling, all of it. I look forward to hearing more stories from you in the future! I’m sure there will be many….. :) xx Andrea
Absolutely STUNNING images of your trip and gorgeous of you son peeing when and where he needs to. What an inspiration. We have travelled with EC and it’s the best. Our son is scared of bathrooms on a plane though – he was ok as a baby but last time we went to NZ (a 13 hour flight – there was no way he would go in that tiny room. Bless him he held it the whole way. He had a diaper on in case but did’t use it. I love that Seoul has tiny toilets for little ones – wish our society’s were more forward thinking like that. Thanks again for sharing Andrea. And just posted this to Twitter. :)
Thanks Tracy!! I love your story of your NZ flight. I’ve been on a flight to AUS that was that intense, sans kids, so I commend you both! <3
Thanks for this post! It gave me the courage to continue practicing EC while traveling in Asia for seven months, starting when my son was 12-months-old. The tip about getting the bassinet seats was great. We didn’t use the floor area for pottying, but it was nice to have more leg room and to be near the bathroom. One regret is that I didn’t take along the BabyBjorn Smart Potty that my son had used his whole first year. I took along the Potette Plus, which he never liked. It would have been worth it to bring a bigger bag to fit his favorite potty.
Well next time you will Heidi! I’m so glad the post helped you and might I add you did it!!! :)
Great info and cute pics,! My husband and I are going on an 11 day vacation across state with my son, he willl be 10 months, and ive been ecing him since 5 months. He doesnt wear anything during naps and night time, wears undies and I only use cloth as back or when papa is holding him up and on day. He uses a Bjorn smart potty, and im trying to figure out what carry on bag I could use that will store his potty plus diapers that i can bring on the plane and travel with. Any suggestions? What did you use? Thanks for the help :)
Hi Emily! Just seeing this so I hope I’m not too late! I found a very large bag at Target or a consignment store that has a big open top and two big straps…like a giant purse…and I just throw everything into that. It’s important that the bag be straight on the sides so that the top is not a narrower opening than the body – that’s what my criteria are, anyway! :) Have a great trip!!! xx Andrea
I’ve read this post before, but just read through again as we’re now planning a trip to Norway in June! LO will be 14 months old, so it’s super helpful to read this as Kaiva was the same age when you began your trip!
I had forgotten about the bassinet/bulkhead seats so we’re going to see if we can change to that. Our flight is overnight and I believe 7 hours, so hopefully she will sleep a lot!
I’m wondering about what potty to bring! At home we use the becopotty and attached reducer as well as a medium size tophat at night. We also have the potette plus with the reusable liner, but haven’t really used it.
I know the potette would probably be best for traveling, but what do you think?? We could certainly start using the potette so she can get accustomed.
Looking back on it, would you still have brought your beco? With the liner, the potette isn’t THAT much more compact really…
Hey Naiya! Yay that this is helpful for you guys! I would use the Potette, hands down, with the rubber liner. If I had that back then absolutely! Enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes!! xx Andrea
Super helpful, thank you!
No problem, Naiya!
I used the potette plus and it was terrific! Definitely would recommend, I hope you all have a safe flight and hope this helps!
Thank you Emily!
Question… do you use it at night too?
We have only done the top hat at night so I hold her and breastfeed if need be.
Naiya – the potette can definitely be used at night, just grab the rubber reusable liner that you can get for a few more bucks. They now make it collapsible: https://godiaperfree.com/potetteliner
Would this liner work In the top hat? I’m currently pregnant and it’s my first and excited to practice ec. We travel full time so preparing for lots of road trips with the new baby!
Congratulations!!! It should, you can either use a liner or use a small plastic bag to line the inside of the top hat potty with, this way you can tie the bag off after baby uses it and toss it in a trash can on the go. The top hat potty also comes with an elastic cozy to help keep the bag in place, alternatively you can use a rubber band to keep the bag from slipping around. so much.
Your welcome :)
So sorry for the late reply,
Yes I would use this at night as well, as Andrea suggested the reusable liner would work wonderfully for this purpose, just make sure to clean it out in the morning right away so it wont get a smell to it, I usually spray it down with hydrogen peroxide(diluted to 3% from food grade 35% bought through amazon so it doesnt contain toxic pharmacuticles amd biproducts, so many uses for this wonderful stuff!) with a few drops of lavender mixed in. Please let me know if yu have anymore questions! I hope you and babe are well and happy on your EC journey! Blessings to you :)
I was wondering how you dealt with international bathrooms that you have to pay for. The whole time I was in Europe we had to pay to use the restrooms and if your child doesn’t actually use the potty that’s a lot of money wasted since a lot of the restrooms were about 1.50 euros or so.
I think a potette would be a great option if you can use one. It would definitely cut down on how often you had to pay for using a restroom.
We live in the country and spend a lot of time outside. We pee outside a lot ourselves, and I wonder how outdoor EC works. It seems complicated/confusing to teach appropriate places outside, and that peeing is ok, but pooping is different… Should we just bring the potty with us when we’re outside, in order to not confuse our 4 moth old? We’re just getting started with EC.
Also, I saw the picture where you were in the jungle. The caption said you cleaned up, what did you do?
Hi Hanna! Much like you would for a dog pooping outdoors, I clean up the mess. Some parents carry dog poop bags. In the woods you can always bury it if you don’t have anything with you. I don’t think it is confusing for babies to potty in nature vs the potty. It is entirely up to you though! I pack my top hat potty for hikes. Just do what you are comfortable with. xx Andrea
We are taking a 9-hour car trip from Raleigh to Cincinnati in a couple of weeks. I am wondering if you have any tips for catching the pee while baby is buckled up in a carseat behind me. My husband will be driving, and I have two other daughters buckled next to baby to watch, but I do not want to stop the car every time we “think” she may need to pee! I don’t want our day trip to turn into two… or more!
Thank you for this post and the tips! My daughter is 4 months now and we started EC-ing 1 month ago. Your book is so helpful and we‘ve been EC-ing pretty successfully since! Sometimes when we are out and about, she can‘t poop (peeing is fine) like at home because the surrounding is new to her and she gets very distracted. Even though I know that it‘s time again, I don‘t want to hold her too long over the public sink or the toilet (what we usually do at home) because it ends up her crying. Is it possible that she doesn‘t feel comfortable pooping in an unfamiliar environment? What can I do to help her so she doesn‘t hold her poop until we are back at home? I‘m very worried because we will travel soon…
Some littles dislike pooping in unfamiliar places, however sometimes having a collapsible seat reducer that is familiar to them can help baby go. Perhaps you could even try the top hat potty or another travel friendly potty option to help keep her regular and not hold it for so long.