Packing for your travels is hard enough, but packing for a baby? It's a nightmare; especially if you need to pack breast milk. You just thought traveling with a baby was going to be tough, but now you have to play a game of Tetris to fit the baby's bathtub into an already packed car and you need some hacks for traveling with pumped milk.
You can forget diapers, wipes, and a toothbrush, but you can't lose all of that liquid gold your baby was going to eat?. Whether you exclusively pump for your baby or just wanted to bring some pumped milk along in case breastfeeding was too difficult, you have one goal — keep the milk fresh.
But it can be difficult when you're traveling. If you're flying, you might be nervous about the TSA guidelines. (Spoiler alert: they're pretty accommodating with breast milk and baby supplies.) If you're going on a good old-fashioned road trip, you're concerned about keeping the breast milk cold (especially during these warmer months) and storing it as you travel.
Luckily, there are some hacks for traveling with pumped milk that can not only ease your mind, but keep your breast milk safe for your little one to drink. It takes a little extra time and effort before traveling to make some of these hacks work, but when you're enjoying your vacation or trip without worrying about your breast milk, you'll know they were totally worth it.
1Invest In A High-End Cooler
You'll need to keep your milk cold while you're traveling, so consider investing in a high-end cooler, like the Wagan Personal Fridge ($46), which plugs directly into your car's adapter and can stay as cold as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. You won't have to worry about changing out the ice and you can be sure your milk stays cold until you reach your destination.
2Store Milk In Increments Your Baby Will Eat
Nobody wants to waste milk, but storing your breast milk in increments your baby will eat is also convenient for you. No more juggling bags of milk or trying to store unfinished bottles. Just pour the milk right in a bottle and you're ready to go.
3Double Bag Milk
Those little storage bags are great for your breast milk, but do yourself a solid and double bag them into a larger Ziploc bag. It can help keep them colder for longer and also prevents your precious storage bags being ripped up or destroyed while traveling.
4Keep Your Breast Milk In A Separate Bag For Security
If you're flying, then you already know about the 3 ounce rule for liquids. TSA does not include breast milk in those restrictions, but you will need to keep all breast milk in a separate cooler so that the agents can check the liquids. Plus, this is also helpful when you're on the plane and don't want to rummage through your toiletries and carry on bag to find some milk.
5Let TSA Know You Have Breast Milk Beforehand
To keep the process as easy as possible, let TSA know that you have breast milk in your bag as soon as you get in the security line. They'll need to check the milk separately from the rest of your items and this can cut down on the time you spend in security and any miscommunication.
6Call Ahead To Make Sure Your Hotel Room Has A Fridge
Lansinoh recommended calling ahead to your hotel and asking if there is a fridge in your hotel room. If not, some hotels can put one in there and often they'll waive the fee if they know it's for breast milk. You can also talk to a hotel employee about storing your breast milk in the hotel's refrigerators.
7Fill Storage Bags With Ice
Those little storage bags are great for your milk, but they also work as ice packs in a pinch. If you're freezer packs in the cooler are starting to warm up, stop by a gas station and fill up your extra milk storage bags with ice for homemade freezer packs.
8Call Your Airline About Storing Breast Milk In The Fridge
Baby Center noted that many people have found that airlines are extremely accommodating and will store your breast milk in the airplane fridge if you call ahead and ask. Doesn't hurt to try, right?
9Keep Each Bottle Or Bag Touching An Ice Pack
Our Everyday Life suggested that in order to keep your breast milk as cold as possible (for as long as possible), make sure every bottle or bag of breast milk is touching an ice pack or ice. You can nestle them in stacks and alternate to keep your cooler organized, too.
10Designate One Cooler For Breast Milk
Remember, not only is a separate cooler convenient for you, but if you're on a road trip or carrying snacks throughout your adventures, a separate cooler can keep your breast milk cold. If the milk is stored with other drinks and food, the constant opening of the cooler can warm your breast milk up faster than if it was in its own cooler.
11Use A Portable Bottle Warmer
For warming bottles on the go, pick up a travel bottle warmer like the Munchkin Travel Car Bottle Warmer ($19). It plugs right into your car's adapter so you don't have to stop to warm up bottles or make your baby wait for a bottle to heat up.
12Thaw One Day's Supply At A Time
If you have breast milk packed for several days, only thaw one day's worth at a time. You don't want to lose any of it and this can also save room in your fridge or cooler.
13Store Milk In Bottles With Bottle Caps
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended storing your breast milk in bottles with tight seals while traveling. These might be a little more cumbersome than storage bags, but they are convenient and can keep your breast milk just as cold.
14Keep Milk Frozen Until You Leave
Leave it in the freezer until the last possible moment so that the breast milk can stay as cold as possible while you're traveling.
15Use Microwaveable Disinfecting Bags
Nobody likes cleaning pump parts, especially while traveling. Pick up some sterilizer bags like Little Sprout Microwave Sterilizer Bags ($9) and you can clean your pump parts in the microwave with ease.
16Invest In A Hands-Free Pumping Bra
Trying to pump on an airplane or in a car is hard enough, but not having your hands free? Way harder. Invest in a hands-free bra like the Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breast Pump Bra ($28) so that you can still pass the sandwiches to the backseat and help your kid with the iPad.
17Ask About Quiet Places To Pump
Pumping while traveling doesn't have to be awful, so go ahead and contact airports and hotels about where there's a quiet place to pump. Many places have mother rooms now with outlets and comfortable chairs so you can pump in peace.
18Pick Up A Car Adapter For Your Pump
Batteries run out and you don't want to realize you can't pump when you're on a long stretch of highway. Depending on the brand of your breast pump, you can find an adapter for the car so you can pump while riding.
19Keep Ziploc Bags In Your Pump Bag
It's hard to clean your pump accessories while you're on the go, so keep some Ziploc bags in your cooler. According to Exclusive Pumping, you can toss your recently used breast pump accessories in a Ziploc bag, store it in your cooler, and it will keep them from getting gross between uses.