As the school year wraps up, I know lots of families have summer travel plans scheduled. We are taking a big family trip to Mexico, and one thing I really looking forward to is that I will be done breastfeeding and pumping by then!
As much as I love a trip, as a breastfeeding mom, traveling can be hectic. Traveling without your baby and needing to pump is even more of a headache. I have breastfed two little ones for a year each and have done my fair share of traveling without the babies and needing to pump throughout the trips. I want to share some of my tried-and-true tips on pumping and air travel specifically.
- Know the rules. You can absolutely fly with your pump, breastmilk, and a cooler. There are a few limitations (for example, some TSA agents will insist on ice packs being frozen solid), but don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t allowed! Most airlines will treat your breast pump as a medical device and not count it as one of your carry-ons, but you should check with your airline before travel. I have traveled with all of the above both domestically and internationally, and it has always worked out.
- Travel with frozen milk when possible. It’s just easier. You can even pack your frozen milk well in a cooler and check it. But if fresh is all you have, that is fine!
- Mother’s/nursing spaces are your friend. You don’t have to have a nursing baby to use these spaces. I always find the nursing room closest to my gate to comfortably pump privately. Also, make sure to look for pumping pods like Mamava in airports that may not have designated rooms. With these pods, you download an app that will give you a code to unlock the pod and provide with you a comfortable and private space.
- Bring extra pump parts. I have a fear of being stuck without a pump and because of that, I always travel with a hand pump as a backup. I also bring extra duckbills because, for me, they are the most likely to tear. If you are traveling to a city, you can always shop for anything you may have left. On my most recent trip, I left both flanges at home and had to use my manual pump during travel. I was able to place an Instacart order from a baby store at my destination, and my order was waiting for me at my hotel when I checked in.
- Wearable/portable pumps. If you have a wearable or portable pump this is the time to use it. I use an Ameda Mya pump with Legendairy Milk cups when traveling instead of my normal Spectra S1 at home.
- Charge your pump! If you have a chargeable pump, charge it every chance you get so that it is fully charged when you need it. You don’t want to get a low battery warning while you are pumping without an outlet in sight.
- Don’t forget sanitizing wipes and spray. Chances are you won’t always be near a sink and able to wash your parts immediately. This is another reason nursing rooms are helpful, they have sinks!
- Pumping on the plane. When possible, I suggest pumping in the airport before boarding instead of on the plane. However, due to pump and flight schedules, pumping on the plane may be inevitable. Space on planes can be tight so I suggest having all your supplies readily available, a spacious cover (if that’s your preference), and a hands-free bra.
- Storing milk. If you have a cooler with an ice pack, that is the best option to store your milk until you get to a freezer. If you choose to dump your milk, that is also an option. On my last international trip, I chose to save myself the stress of storing and freezing, and dumped until the last day of my trip and brought that milk home. On a shorter, domestic trip where I had easy access to a freezer, I froze every drop and brought it all home.
- Ship it. There are services that will transport your milk for you for a fee. Milkstork is the most popular. If you are traveling for work, consider asking your employer if this is a cost they can cover.