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My husband and I are working on section hiking the GR5, a long-distance trail that goes from Rotterdam to Nice.

We are going for two weeks with our 1.5-year-old daughter. I will be carrying her in the baby backpack...plus my water and something light and not dense, like diapers, my husband will be carrying everything else.

The trip involves 6 nights of either tent camping or staying in refuges (dormitory-style, no private rooms). We will be eating at the refuges so we don't need to carry as much food, and can dispose of dirty diapers :-) The rest of the nights we are staying in hotels (yes, I know hiking in Europe is cushy).

Any input on the decision to bring along our tent and sleeping bags or to stay in refuges? Other tips for trekking with a toddler would also be appreciated!

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    I'm not sure if planning to dispose your diapers at the huts is such a good idea. It depends a bit on how high up the mountain the huts are you're heading for, but supplying alpine huts can be anything from driving up all the food and down all the waste by off-road vehicles up to flying everything by helicopter. Either way, their waste management is typically rather limited and visitors are expected to not leave the waste they bring but carry it out themselves. So you might be frowned upon if you handle over the guys there some smelly used diapers for disposal. – Benedikt Bauer Jun 30 '15 at 16:20
  • Thanks - very true. We will plan on packing our diapers out (it's 5 to 8 diapers/24hrs, so not so many considering we'll be staying at hotels every other night) We did consider using our washable cloth diapers but it seems too difficult to do in a sanitary way. I've heard of some outdoorsy parents who use biodegradable inserts in washable outer cloth diapers that seems like the best option, but our cloth diapers are all-in-ones so it doesn't work. – Brusselssprout Jun 30 '15 at 17:55
  • Have you checked the huts already? Because you are saying you want to take the dormitory-style rooms of the refuges. I don't think this is a good option, neither for you nor the others... There are lots of alpine huts getting more and more comfortable which involves private rooms. I think this would be the best option for a young family. Of course it costs a bit more, but it's typically not that much - except you are doing it in Switzerland maybe... – Wills Jun 30 '15 at 21:56
  • Yes - at least according to their websites, the ones we would need to stay in are dormitory only. Otherwise it'd be a much easier choice for us, and we would do private rooms. – Brusselssprout Jul 1 '15 at 7:44
  • Just wanted to say we got back from our trip - we brought the tent, but due to rain, many of the refuges were under booked so we had private rooms (or rather, dorm rooms all to ourselves). Only ended up using the tent two nights. We carried out all our diapers, except at one refuge which was on a road and had a dumpster for anyone to use. It was a good experience for all! – Brusselssprout Aug 24 '15 at 13:39
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This isn't really a clear yes/no sort of question, I'm also pretty reticent to tell someone what would be best for their child. Aside from that hopefully someone will provide some information that will make your decision or others thinking of doing the same easier.

My first suggestion would be to work out which huts you are thinking of staying at or around and ring the guardians who are usually very helpful/knowledgeable!

I don't know how much you know about huts in the alps but some things to consider;

  • some regions camping near huts is frowned upon.
  • some regions camping near a hut is OK but using hut facilities is frowned upon.
  • Most huts make their money on food, so some places are quite happy to have people who camp but buy meals
  • Most water at huts comes from melt water near by so going to the toilet close to huts (especially uphill) is a bad thing.
  • Many huts will not want to dispose of your rubbish for you as it will have to be lifted out by helicopter.
  • It is quite likely there will be people getting up and moving around in the night which may or may not bother you, particularly climbers who must make the best of snow/ice conditions to make safe ascents of nearby routes.
  • Even if people disapprove of camping near by there is not much anyone can do about it.
  • A "reciprocal rights card" may save you money - uk example .
  • booking a bed is often required at busy times of year.
  • camping gear is heavy.

This sounds like quite the adventure, good luck!

  • +1 good hints. What I've never heard of is a "reciprocal rights card". What's that? – Wills Jun 30 '15 at 21:52
  • @Wills If I interpret it correctly, it is an agreement between different alpine clubs give the members of a foreign club the same conditions as their own ones. E.g. if the German Alpine Club (DAV) has such an agreement with the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), then a DAV member pays the same reduced fee as a SAC member for a stay at a hut run by the SAC and vice versa. – Benedikt Bauer Jul 1 '15 at 8:03
  • Yes, thats pretty much it. Though you should check whether the club your interested in is part of the scheme. Its called the The Reciprocity Fund and is managed by the Swiss Alpine Club. – aaaaargZombies Jul 1 '15 at 16:02
  • @BenediktBauer Yes, as far as I am aware most European mountain clubs automatically have a reciprocity agreement with other clubs for members. For the UK it is different as the BMC doesn't own any (or at least very few) huts. Therefore, BMC members must purchase a separate reciprocal rights card. – nivag Jul 2 '15 at 10:14

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