Traveling with little kids is a handful… But traveling with breast milk as a pumping mom? Now we are talking about a challenge! The last trip I took was with my 9-month-old whom I was exclusively pumping for, which meant I had to think about how I would get to and from our destination, through TSA, store and transport the milk, and handle long flights and layovers!
What Are The Rules For Traveling With Breast Milk?
If you are still breastfeeding and planning a flight, you’re in luck! There are very limited guidelines for traveling with breast milk on a plane.
The TSA explains that “formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, [and] baby/toddler food” are all allowed on flights in carry-on baggage and do not have to fit within any specific size standards. This also includes any items you need to keep these items temperature-safe, including ice packs, pump supplies, and cooling bags. These bags don’t count as your carry-on either, meaning you can bring one travel bag for your breast milk, a diaper bag, and your carry-on!
Additionally, many airlines will consider your breast pump a medical device, meaning you can bring it on the plan in addition to your carry-on, as well!
In fact, you can even bring liquid-filled teethers if you have a fussy, teething baby as well!
On top of that, you don’t necessarily need to have your child with you on the flight to bring these supplies. This is great for pumping mamas who need to travel away from their children for any reason.
Finally, there isn’t a set amount of breastmilk you can travel with… Just bring a “reasonable amount”.
However, there are some precautions that may be taken before you board. For example, your carry-on will still be screened just like any other carry-on. Make sure to talk to the TSA officer and let them know that you are bringing these supplies so they can check them out. They may also need to check or test the liquids you bring on board. For example, they might need to take a sample, do a visual inspection, or hover over the bottle with a test strip. You might also be asked to open the bottle and pour some out.
What Supplies Do I Need When Traveling With Breast Milk?
No matter how you are traveling, keeping breast milk at the correct temperature is necessary! Luckily, there are so many great options out there to keep breast milk safe.
For example, having a compact but great pump bag to keep all of your supplies in one place can make traveling easier. And this one on Amazon even includes a cooler section to keep milk safe on the go!
Additionally, you’ll want to have enough ice to keep the milk cool. Reusable ice packs are awesome, but might not be enough if you are traveling with breast milk for a long period of time. If you have a very long trip or flight layovers, you’ll want to find ice wherever you are! Stopping at a small shop in the airport or a gas station on the road can allow you to stock up on ice to keep your breast milk safe and cool.
Once again, remember that cooler bags, pump bags, and diaper bags do not count as your carry-on for a flight! Along with your pump, they can be brought on in addition to your normal carry-on bag.
What If I Need to Pump While I’m Traveling?
Pumping on the go can be inconvenient but not impossible!
First of all, I need to mention that you’ll want to make sure that your pump is charged before you leave or have a car adapter handy (if traveling by car). Alternatively, you can use a portable battery pack.
The other major concern with pumping on the go is being able to clean your pump parts between sessions. While you should plan on cleaning your parts when you get to your destination, you’ll want a way of quickly cleaning off your pump and accessories. Medela has a quick cleaning supplies kit for on-the-go sessions that comes with sanitizer and wipes.
Another option is to bring extra pumping supplies so you can just use new ones if you can’t clean them in between uses.
The fridge hack can also work while you are flying! Instead of placing your pump parts in a fridge, you will just use your cooler and/or ice packs to keep them at a safe temperature until your next pumping session.
If you would rather wash your pump parts between sessions, bringing a collapsible bin to wash your parts in during layovers is a good option. This is the best way to keep your pump parts sanitary and separate from the public sink!
Lastly, if you aren’t super comfortable pumping in public, you still have some options. You could get a cover-up to pump discreetly on the plane or in a waiting area. Or, you can schedule your pumping sessions around your flight and pump prior to boarding and/or between layovers, if possible. Finally, some airports even have pods for lactation to make pumping in peace a possibility!
Feeding Your Baby While Traveling
It’s especially important to make sure that you are following the safety storage guidelines of your breast milk when traveling. This means that any milk at room temperature should be used within 4 hours.
However, if you plan to feed your baby using refrigerated or cooled milk and need to warm it, there are some great options for warming milk on the go!
For example, bringing a thermos of hot water or asking a restaurant for a cup of hot water and placing the bottle of cold milk inside can allow you to quickly warm up milk on the go. On the other hand, you could opt for a portable bottle warmer.
What To Do When You Get To Your Destination
Keeping your milk stored safely is also important when you arrive at your destination! Especially if you are planning to bring breast milk home with you at the end of your trip.
Keep in mind, you should plan ahead and make sure you have access to a fridge (or freezer if you will need it) at your destination. Calling your hotel ahead of time can prevent any confusion when you arrive! If staying with relatives or friends, ask them if they have room to store your breastmilk during your stay.
Planning Ahead When Traveling With Breast Milk
If you are traveling with breast milk, the most important way to prepare is to plan ahead for your trip! Thinking about how long your trip will be, understanding the different flight guidelines, and getting the supplies you need in advance are all important to create a safe and stress-free experience when traveling.
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