Breastfeeding and traveling without your baby? Here are my tips on making pumping on the go easy, as well as how to store, travel with, and get your breast milk through TSA.
Pumping at the Airport
Need to pump while at the airport? Some airports now have nursing pods made by Mamava. They are private, clean, and have outlets so you can plug in your electric pump. In addition to airports they have a few locations at stadiums, malls, and hospitals. Find locations here or download the Mamava Lactation Suite Locator from iTunes.
Pumping on the Plane or in a Car
I flew to Japan without Jordyn while I was still breastfeeding her and there was no way to get around not pumping for a 14hr flight. For traveling I always pack my single pump as it's easier to travel with and pump with on the plane and in cars. For this trip I used my Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump to pump on the plane in my seat. I was sitting at the window seat, with my husband next to me and used a jacket to cover myself. The manual pump is very quiet and it just looked as if I was covering myself because I was cold so it's discreet as well. However, I have done it with a stranger sitting next to me when traveling alone and they never noticed (or at least they didn't give me any dirty looks).
When I had Kennedy I discovered the Evenflo Single Electric Breast Pump. It can be used with batteries or being plugged in, either way you save your arms, that manual pump is a work out!! It is louder since it's electric but the results are great and you can use it anywhere.
I have used both of these pumps while on excursions or tours when I was away from my hotel all day.
Storing Your Milk on the Plane or For a Long Drive
I had a cooler that I stored my milk in. If you have freezer packs you can use those but I'd test them out first to see how long they will actually stay cool. I always bring 2 gallon-sized zip-loc bags in my cooler so I can have the flight attendants fill it up with ice for me. If you are driving you can always stop at a gas station or fast food restaurant for ice if your cooler packs get warm.
Storing Your Breast Milk at a Hotel
If you don't see it advertised that your room comes with a mini fridge call the hotel and let them know you will be pumping during your stay and need somewhere to store your milk. Most hotels have a few mini fridges, especially if they have suites, that they could put in your room even if it doesn't normally come with one. This happened to me at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, they even let me get extended check out for free so I could use the fridge until I was headed to the airport.
If your room doesn't come with a fridge and they don't have one they can provide to you ask the hotel to store your milk in their fridge/freezer. I had to do this while staying at a hotel in Cancun. I pumped my milk into my storage bags and then put them all in a gallon sized zip-loc bag with my name on it so they were all together. Room service would come and pick it up from my room and store it until I was ready to leave.
Cleaning Your Pumping Supplies on the Plane, in the Car or at a Hotel
When I returned to work and while pumping when traveling I used either the Medela Quick Clean Wipes or the Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags to sanitize my pumping supplies easily. All you need is a microwave and water to use it and each bag can be used up to 20 times (it has 20 boxes on the bag you can check off after each use to keep track). If it is only for one day you can put the pumping supplies in the fridge in between pumps but once you're going into multiple days I would clean them.
If you won't have access to a microwave or prefer to clean your pumping supplies by hand Sinkboss is a portable, lightweight, and compact sink that allows you to wash and dry your bottles, pumping supplies, or other child utensils in any sink without having to worry about germs from public restrooms.
Getting Through TSA With Your Breast Milk
Breast milk is allowed in all quantities and does not have to follow the general TSA rule of 3oz or less for your carry-on. Do let the TSA screening agent know that you are traveling with breast milk. Also frozen or not, have your milk separated from the rest of your liquids so it can be easily screened (a soft cooler is perfect). Be prepared for the TSA agent to do additional screening on your milk, they put it in some machine, but they should not open it! In my experience they usually only test 1 bottle or storage bag even if you have multiple. Because so many people do not follow the 3oz liquid rule the line for additional screening can sometimes be a bit of a wait so be sure to get to the airport with an additional 30mins when traveling with breast milk.
Ice packs, freezer packs, or frozen gel packs are also allowed in your carry on or cooler but if they are only partially frozen or slushy they will also be put through additional screening. I have never had an issue traveling with breast milk throughout the U.S. but when I traveled to Cancun and was returning I did have trouble with a TSA agent said I wasn't allowed to travel with breast milk without my baby. Ummmm hello, I have all this breast milk because I don't have my baby!
If this happens to you stay calm and ask to speak with a supervisor. Also carry a printed copy of the TSA rules directly from their website in the event you encounter any issues with the supervisor or one is not available. For some reason if you are still having issues you can have them call a representative from the ticket counter of the airline which you are flying to intervene. I have never had to go this far in the two years I have been traveling with breast milk.
Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”