Your Guide to Transporting and Traveling With Breast Milk
Head on your next trip confidently with these tips for safely transporting breast milk
Whether you’re ditching the city for the week, visiting relatives or relocating to a new place, this guide to traveling with breast milk will help get you wherever you need to go along with your pump, pump parts and, most importantly, that precious liquid gold. While planning for added safety precautions like wearing your mask around others, packing extra hand sanitizer and in some cases, self-quarantining when you arrive, make sure you plan for safely transporting your breast milk too. There’s an art to storing breast milk—it must be protected in transit and stored properly every step of the way. Plus, if you have to travel by air, you have to make sure you know and meet all TSA breast milk guidelines to avoid unnecessary delays. Here’s a comprehensive guide to transporting and traveling with breast milk so you can get where you need to go.
How to Transport Breast Milk
Storing and Freezing Your Breast Milk
When it comes to traveling with frozen breast milk, whether it’s by plane, car or train, make sure you have the right storage containers to last the trip. After all, there’s truly nothing worse than discovering that your carefully pumped breast milk has leaked everywhere.
The best storage containers for safely transporting breast milk are sturdy, reliable and will fit in your preferred travel case. Plus, if you’re going far away, make sure your containers can be frozen and kept on ice easily. For long-distance travel, consider using breast milk storage bags. Not only are they designed for freezing, but they take up much less room than a bottle. They’ll be easy to stack and store every which way in your cooler or other travel cases. Test out each bag once they’re filled by turning them upside down to make sure the seal is fully closed. The best ones have a double zip-top to ensure you won’t lose a single drop. If you plan to freeze your milk before your trip, leave about an inch of room in each bag as liquids expand when frozen, and remember that plastic can become brittle after freezing, so always handle with care. Check out our breast milk storage guidelines for more tips and tricks to stashing your milk and a list of our favorite storage bags.
Expert tip: Try to remove as much air from the bags as you can before freezing to help keep the milk from getting freezer burn.
Alternatively, you can use glass or plastic screw-top bottles like the ones probably included with your pump. Tighten those lids and place them in your travel bag in a way that ensures they won’t tip and roll around. If you need some extra breast milk storage containers, check before buying to see if yours are covered through us.
You don’t necessarily need to freeze your breast milk. Unlike cow’s milk, breast milk can be left out at room temperature for four to six hours. So if you’re taking a relatively quicker trip, it’s as easy as popping a couple of extra bottles into your diaper bag, no ice packs needed. However, if you’re going to be away from a fridge for longer, take a small insulated cooler bag and some frozen ice packs with you.
How to Travel on a Plane with Breast Milk
Whether you need to travel by plane for work or to visit out-of-state relatives while breastfeeding, traveling with—and without—your little one may seem like a source of stress all on its own. Thankfully there are TSA guidelines for flying with breast milk to help you get through security with no issue. The good news is that you are allowed to bring breast milk through security. Before you head to the airport, though, here are a few basic guidelines you should know and follow:
- Let the TSA officer know you’re carrying breast milk. According to the official guidelines, breast milk is permitted in “reasonable” quantities through the security checkpoint. Anything stored will need to be screened separately from the rest of your items. Thankfully, when it comes to breast milk, you can have more than the 3.4-ounce liquids allowed in your carry-on bag.
- Expect extra screening to take place. TSA officers will need to test your breast milk separately, so make sure you account for this extra time at security. This may mean X-ray screening or other kinds of testing. You may have to transfer a small quantity of your milk to a separate empty container.
- Print out the official guide. Take a copy of the TSA guidelines with you and have them on hand at the airport. TSA officers may not know all of the exact rules, and this way, you can both be sure.
Flying with a breast pump is also possible. Since breast pumps are considered medical devices, they won’t be counted as a separate carry-on, so feel free to pack up your regular pumping bag to the brim with everything you need! If you’re still feeling a little nervous about taking breastfeeding to the air, check out this real mom’s experience with traveling for work while breastfeeding.
Breast milk is precious and life-sustaining, so don’t be afraid to take it with you when you’re on the go. Following the tips and guidelines above means that you don’t have to worry about rescheduling those long trips just because you’re nursing. The key is to pump and store the milk as cleanly and neatly as possible, and make sure you’re following TSA breast milk guidelines if traveling by air. If you find yourself questioning whether your milk is still good, smell and taste it. Trust us, you’ll know if it’s past its prime—and rest assured that your baby won’t drink milk that’s gone bad either.
When getting ready for your trip, make sure you have the perfect breast pump to bring with you. Take a look at our list of the top insurance-covered breast pumps to get a feel for what may work best for you. Once you know what pump will suit your needs, order yours through us! We’ll check your coverage and get a pump shipped right to your door.
Updated September 2020