How to Travel with Breast Milk

Planning a trip and wondering how to travel with breast milk? Traveling with breast milk can be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we will discuss how to keep your breast milk safe and cool while traveling. When traveling with breast milk, you want to make sure that it stays cold. The best way to do this is by packing your breast milk in an ice pack and putting it in the freezer before leaving for your trip. This will keep the temperature of the milk at a safe level while still allowing you to easily access it during your travels.

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Traveling by plane with breast milk

Typically, you may bring liquids in your carry-on luggage if they’re contained in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less, and all of the containers fit into a see-through quart-sized zipper bag. However, the liquid rule varies when it comes to feeding infants and toddlers with breast milk.

Breast milk in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml may be brought on a flight by parents who are flying (with or without their baby) as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint.

The transportation security administration (TSA) security officers will examine the breast milk and may test for explosives during the screening process.

Traveling internationally

Before you go, research the security procedures of the airports you will be visiting to ensure the proper handling of breast milk throughout your travels.

In most European countries you can bring as much breast milk as you need but each bag can not exceed 2000 mls. If you are traveling with frozen milk, you can not store it in your carry on bag and it will have to be stored in your checked luggage.

Traveling by car

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in a cooler with freezer packs for up to 24 hours. Most coolers come with frozen ice packs to keep it cool like this one but if you are storing more than 6 bottles at a time you will want a larger cooler bag like this one.

If you are traveling with breast milk at room temperature, it is safe for up to four hours so plan ahead if you will need to keep your milk cold.

Tips on transporting milk

1. Pack breast milk in a cooler with ice packs or gel packs to keep it cold.

2. Check the airline’s policy on bringing breast milk onto the plane, many allow you to bring pumped milk in reasonable quantities.

3. Bring storage bags for storing your breast milk and labeling them clearly.

4. Put your frozen breastmilk on top of your checked luggage so that it is at the top when you take off from baggage claim and be put straight into the mini-fridge or freezer when you get to your destination.

5. Make sure to pack plenty of cold packs or ice packs in case there are any delays or temperatures change during travel.

6. Store your breast milk bags inside a large gallon bag in case of spills or leaks.

7. Label all bottles so you can distinguish between them.

8. Bring extra bottles in case you lose one or it one breaks.

9. Try to stick to the same nursing or pumping schedule to protect your milk supply.

10. Bring a manual breast pump in case you can’t find an outlet or the batteries die on your electric breast pump.

Planning for traveling and pumping

You should be careful when using an electric breast pump because it operates on batteries too! Trains often have power sources with fewer public spaces and transportation can have private rooms however some do not necessarily have sockets. Many pumps have batteries that can recharge and connect without charging.

Make sure to have your breast pump fully charged before you travel and you can even call the airport to see if they offer a quiet corner or a private space for you to pump or breastfeed your baby.

Bring a portable cooler so after your pumping sessions, your milk can stay fresh for longer and a nursing cover for some privacy.

how to travel with breast milk

How should I transport my breast milk and keep it fresh while traveling?

The best way for transporting breast milk is to store it in a small cooler separate from any of your other liquids. If you can store it directly into milk storage bags and double bag it with a gallon bag clearly labeled, it will take up much less space.

Bring ice packs to keep your milk cool in case of any delays while traveling.

Going through airport security with breast milk

The airport’s Security Department will allow you to carry on a reasonable amount of breast milk. It must be taken out of your carry-on bags to be screened separately.

Your breast milk should not be placed alongside medications or other liquids in your carry-on. Be prepared for a quick pat-down and ask the agent if they need to open any bottles before you begin heading towards your gate.

Make sure that all of your breast milk storage bags are clearly labeled with their contents and your name.

Can you check breast milk in your luggage?

You can check your breast milk instead of putting it in your carry-on baggage. It’s best to have the milk frozen solid with ice packs and double bagged with a gallon zip lock bag in case there are any leaks.

How can I send my breast milk home?

If you want to ship breast milk home, you can use overnight shipping for your milk while you are on your trip. To send your frozen milk home, find any shipping service or you can use a specific service like Milk Stork that is made for shipping frozen breast milk. The milk is shipped with dry ice to remain frozen until it has reached its destination.

how to travel with breast milk

Pumping on the Trip

While you are pumping on your trip, there are a few things to consider.

If your pump does not have a rechargeable battery, you’ll need either a car adaptor for car travel or a battery pack for on the plane. Make sure you get one with the correct voltage for your pump.

You will either need to bring extra pump parts or have a way to wash yours after each use.

How should I store my breast milk once I reach my destination?

When staying at your hotel, please keep your fridge in your room. If you tell them it is for storing breast milk, they’re often without charge.

If you are staying at your family or friend’s house, feel free to ask ahead of time so they know to save some room for you in the fridge or freezer.

Keep Breastmilk Cold When Traveling By Air

If you are flying halfway around the world, be prepared for the journey and make plans. Use a cooler bag for keeping your fresh milk cool.

You can pack frozen milk in your checked luggage, but you may need to use dry ice. Just call the airline ahead of time to make sure it is ok. If you’re traveling with a pump, bring an extra battery and pump parts and make sure the voltage is compatible.

How to keep milk fresh?

Make sure to store milk in a cooler bag with ice packs. Room temperature is okay for up to four hours, but milk will last longer if it’s stored in the fridge or freezer.

If you’re going to freeze your milk, do so as soon as possible after pumping and always use clean containers that have been labeled with the date.

Can you bring your breast pump in your checked luggage?

You can but I would recommend carrying it with you since flights often get delayed and bags get lost.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does considers a breast pump to be a medical device, and you are allowed to carry it with you while traveling.

If you are worried about the size of your breast pump, I love the Spectra 9 Plus portable breast pump.

how to travel with breast milk

Pack Milk To Bring Home

When bringing your milk home, store your milk in storage bags and in a cooler. Make sure everything is clearly labeled. Frozen breast milk can be used as an ice pack for freshly expressed milk.

Do your research

Find some important info to make your trip smooth. The more information we hold the less worry we can take and the more secure is our travel. Call your airline and hotel accommodations ahead of time to be prepared.

Choose the Right Pump

Bringing the right breast pump for your trip can be crucial. You need to make sure it has enough power to protect your milk supply. But you also don’t want it taking up a ton of space in your luggage.

I personally use and love the Spectra 9 Plus. It works just as well as my Medela and it takes up little to no space. The Medela Freestyle Flex is another great option that is powerful but still compact.

Final thoughts

It is important to plan ahead when traveling with breast milk. When you are packing your luggage, make sure you have the right pump for your trip. Be sure to bring enough batteries or a battery pack if needed. If you are flying, call the airlines ahead of time. If you choose to use dry ice for frozen milk in checked baggage. You’ll also want to bring storage bags and gallon bags for storing freshly pumped milk. While on the plane, at the hotel, and after returning home this will prevent leaks in your bag. To keep stored milk cool while away from home, use a cooler bag with ice packs. Make sure to label everything so there is no confusion about when it was pumped.

Be sure to read 11 Best Breastfeeding Clothes and How Much Breast Milk for a Newborn is Needed

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.