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Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk – Everything you need to know

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I will start by saying you are amazing. Any parent that takes on traveling with a baby is a badass, especially while breastfeeding. I’ve been traveling with frozen breast milk since our son was 8-weeks-old, so after nearly two years, I’ve finally written this guide to help other breastfeeding or pumping mamas.

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Let me start by saying; that I’ve experienced traveling with frozen breast milk on over 20 flights, with a third of them being international.

We’ve traveled to Beijing, Canada, Mexico, and many other countries with frozen breast milk and have never experienced an issue.

I hope that puts your mind at ease because I know we were anxious the first time we flew with frozen breast milk.

My wife flew with over 400 oz. of frozen breast milk from San Diego to Cleveland with no issues.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Read More: Best Cooler for Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk


There isn’t a specific way to pack your frozen breast milk when traveling by plane, but I’ve found this is the best process.

Your technique may be slightly different, but there is no right or wrong way. I recommend doing whatever you are most comfortable with and whatever gives you the best result (frozen milk when you reach your destination).

Line the inside of the bag with aluminum foil

My wife learned how to pack fish when she was younger from her dad, and a trick they used was lining the inside of the cooler with aluminum foil.

She says it helps create a barrier that seals the bag from allowing the cold air to escape or heat to enter.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it works, but I’ve always done it when traveling with frozen breast milk. We all know the philosophy, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. You may be able to skip this step, but it’s a personal preference.

Pack the breast milk bags tight

Packing the frozen breast milk tight when traveling is crucial because the bags act as a coolant. The solid blocks of milk are essentially ice cubes that keep each other cold as you travel.

You do not want a lot of open space in your cooler because the air can get warmer, which may result in your milk thawing.

If you can’t pack the milk tightly, consider grouping them in ziplock bags to create a cold environment, where the cold air is trapped; and the temperature remains consistent.

Use ice packs throughout the bag

I recommend using the Cooler Shock Reusable Ice Packs. In my experience, they are the best when it comes to traveling with frozen breast milk, especially on an airplane. They stay frozen longer than the ice packs, are reusable, and use water.

Although the blue liquid ice packs are popular, they can be a pain to get through Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

If the liquid is not frozen solid, they treat them as a liquid, and you risk having them confiscated.

I’ve used the blue gel liquid ice packs a few times on short flights, but the Cooler Shock ice packs are better.

Read More: Best Ice Packs for Breast Milk

My Favorite Ice Packs for Traveling with Breast Milk

Last update on 2023-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pack the cooler bag completely full (if possible)

Stored breast milk has to maintain a consistent temperature, so packing your cooler bag as full as possible creates a barrier that allows the cold air to be trapped.

If you can’t fill your cooler, I recommend packing more ice packs or frozen water in Ziploc bags.

Label the outside of the bag for TSA

Labeling is a step that I skipped when traveling with my frozen breast milk, but it’s good practice.

Having a label puts airport security on notice that you are traveling with breast milk, and they need to take the additional screening.

There are several times when TSA didn’t open the cooler; they just tested the outside. On other occasions, they asked to test the outside of the milk bag, but we did set ground rules.

If they have to open the cooler bag, they need to close it immediately; it cannot be left open. You can request that they do not open the cooler bag, and they must test using a different process.

When they did test the milk, we requested that they use a new pair of gloves. Although they are touching the outside of the bag, contamination was a concern.

Note: TSA guidelines state that you can bring a “reasonable amount” of breast milk through security. There isn’t an amount associated with this guideline, but you shouldn’t have an issue. If you do run into an officer that is giving you a hard time, ask to speak with a supervisor.

Best-Selling Breast Milk Cooler Bags

Last update on 2023-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read More: 10 Tips for Pumping on the Go


Since I’ve gone over how to pack your frozen breast milk for traveling on an airplane, here are some of the tips/hacks to make traveling with frozen breast milk stress-free.

These travel tips have been tried and tested for over a year, and have allowed us to successfully travel around the world without having to ship breast milk or losing my precious liquid gold.

Note: Shipping your frozen breast milk is an option, but it can be costly. The packing process is similar to flying with frozen breast milk, so if you decide to ship here is more information.

Do not open the cooler bag once it is packed

When you open the cooler bag that your frozen breast milk is stored in, you change the temperature. The key to keeping your breast milk frozen when traveling is maintaining a consistent temperature.

Once you have packed your cooler bag, store it in the freezer and do not open it again unless absolutely necessary. 

You can request for TSA not to open the cooler bag, and they can use an alternative method to screen or test the liquid.

Carry the milk onto the flight with you

Unless you have a large quantity of milk, I always recommend taking your breast milk on the flight with you. It may be the control freak in me, but I wouldn’t be able to let my liquid gold out of my sight.

As a mom traveling with a baby or just frozen breast milk, you will be less anxious if you have the milk with you at all times. Plus, although things are marked fragile, checked bags get thrown around all the time.

Store the cooler bag under the seat in front of you (if it fits)

Heat travels up, so the best place to store your frozen breast milk on an airplane is under the seat in front of you. This is one of the few times where the plane being cold is useful.

Depending on how much you have with you, you may have to store the cooler bag in the overhead compartment.

Read More: Best Travel Breast Pump

Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk

I get quite a few emails from readers with questions about traveling with their frozen breast milk. To put your mind at ease, I put together a list of the most frequently asked questions about traveling with breast milk.

If there is a question that’s not included, ask me in the comments; and I’ll do my best to add it to this section.

Can you fly with frozen breast milk?

Yes, you can fly on an airplane with frozen breast milk. I provide tips above on how to travel with frozen breast milk, so rest assured, that you, your little one, and your liquid gold will be okay.

Can I put frozen breast milk in my checked luggage?

Yes, you can check frozen breast milk, but I do not recommend packing it with your other luggage. If you decide to check your frozen breast milk, it should be in a separate cooler bag and labeled with do not open.

Depending on the amount of breast milk you are traveling with, you may be required to check it. If you are traveling with more than 1,000 ounces, I recommend packing a standard cooler and checking it with the airline.

Can I use dry ice to travel with my frozen breast milk?

Yes. You can use dry ice to keep your breast milk frozen.

My only caution with dry ice is that it could potentially change the taste of your breast milk, which means your little one might refuse to drink it.

I used dry ice a few times, but I preferred the ice packs. Our son was a greedy baby, so he drank all the milk he could get.

If you do choose to use dry ice, putting your breast milk storage bags inside larger gallon Ziploc bags could be a barrier decreasing the chance of the dry ice changing the taste of your frozen milk.

If you have a picky little one, I recommend using the Cooler Shock ice packs instead of dry ice.

How do you keep breast milk frozen while traveling?

This post has everything you need to know about traveling with frozen breast milk. Here are the steps to follow to keep your breast milk frozen while traveling.

  1. Pack your frozen milk tightly and completely in a cooler bag
  2. Use ice packs throughout the bag with your frozen breast milk (avoid gel packs)
  3. Label the bag for security
  4. Carry on or check your breast milk
  5. Do not open the cooler bag until you reach your destination

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Do I have to travel with my baby to fly with breast milk?

No. You do not have to travel with your baby to travel with frozen breast milk. It is easier when TSA can see a baby, but it doesn’t make a difference (when traveling domestically in the US).

As a breastfeeding parent, you can travel with fresh breast milk or frozen. If you have an issue, always request to speak with a supervisor or someone in charge.

I can say airport security has made significant strides over the last five years when it comes to human milk and feeding your little one. We’ve gotten through airports with milk, water, and juice.

As long as it’s a reasonable amount, in a sippy cup/bottle, or the original packaging, we’ve been able to get it through. We’ve been doing it since our son first traveled at eight weeks, and now he’s 2.5 years old.

There is an exception to this rule when it comes to traveling internationally. The EU is known for having strict requirements, even when it comes to breast milk for babies.

Be sure to check the rules in the country you travel to/from. You do not want to waste your hard-earned milk, so please do the proper research.

Read More: Best Breast Pump Bag for Spectra Pump

18 thoughts on “Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk – Everything you need to know”

  1. I’m curious which size RTIC bag to use for 250 ounces of frozen breast milk? It looks like the 30 can bag would be too small.

    1. It depends on how you pack your milk. If you get it as thin as possible, then you can get away with the 30 can. If you don’t freeze the milk really thin, then you’d probably have to go with the 40 can.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and tips! We are moving from Texas to California soon, and will be flying with a few days’ worth of breastmilk while waiting on the rest of our stash to be driven. For the 30-can RTIC Soft Cooler- did you have any issues having that as a carry-on? It is slightly larger on one side than the TSA’s (and most airlines) maximum dimensions… i.e. carry-on maximum is 22″x14″x9″ and the 30-can cooler is 15.5″x12.75″x11.5″. I was also hoping to use the the 40-can soft cooler, but that is 18.5″x17″x12″. Not sure if it’s something I could get away with. Would love to hear your input and guidance on this situation.

  3. I’ll be flying with my grandson when he is 8 months old. We will be gone a week. What is the best way to store a larger amount of frozen breast milk and bring it as a carryon?

    1. The article walks you through how to pack breast milk to travel. Here is the quick version.
      1. Freeze the milk for at least 48 hours
      2. Pack the frozen milk in a cooler tightly (I like to line the cooler with aluminum foil)
      3. Label the cooler as containing breast milk
      4. Ask TSA to test the cooler without opening it
      5. DO NOT open the cooler until you get to your destination and can put it back in the freezer
      6. As long as there are ice crystals in the milk, you can refreeze it

  4. Hello! I am traveling to Costa Rica and I have had no luck finding my answers for entry and exit requirements with pumped and frozen milk. I plan on bringing pumped milk into Costa Rica then having frozen milk in a cooler from milk stork coming home. Would you happen to have any information on their guidelines. No one at the embassy will answer my call smh. Thank you!

    1. I am not familiar with Costa Rica’s requirements for breast milk. It may vary depending on the airline. If you are traveling with your baby, it is usually easy to get milk through customs and security. The cooler on the way home may be a slight issue. I believe milk over a certain capacity has to be in your checked luggage. You’d need to label it and let the agent know there is breast milk in the bag. You may also want to put the milk in Ziploc bags and label it frozen milk for the baby in English and Spanish and write do not open.

      This is direct from SJO (San Jose Airport website)

      Airport hours: 24/7
      Address: Alajuela Province, 20 km west of the city of San Jose.
      Phone: +506 2437-2400

      “Breastfeeding: Baby bottles and mother’s milk are permitted solely in the quantities needed for the flight. (Additional assessments may be made due to the law on liquids. Infant or children’s food must be kept separate in a sealed transparent bag when passing through the security checkpoint prior to boarding.)”

      I know this isn’t an exact answer, but hopefully, it helps. It may help if you speak Spanish or have a friend that can help you speak to someone. I provided the information to the airport above. I also recommend checking with your airline, they maybe somewhat helpful.

  5. For the 30-can RTIC Soft Cooler- did you have any issues having that as a carry-on? It is slightly larger on one side than the TSA’s (and most airlines) maximum dimensions… i.e. carry-on maximum is 22″x14″x9″ and the 30-can cooler is 15.5″x12.75″x11.5″.

    1. The airline allowed me to bring the cooler as a carry-on since it fit in the overhead compartment. TSA was very accommodating when I was traveling with breast milk. Unfortunately, not all TSA agents are the same and many do not know the regulations, but it doesn’t help that the regulations are vague. The good news is there is a push for TSA to become more knowledgeable and accommodating to breastfeeding parents. I say go take the cooler and the milk you need. I hope this answers your question and you have a safe trip.

  6. Hello! I am flying with Turkish airlines with my baby and moving overseas. I cannot find any clear answer online about how their airlines work with brining breast milk. Do you have any experience with this airline?

  7. Have you ever travelled to Mexico with your frozen milk? What were the rules on flying back to the US from Mexico with frozen milk?

  8. What cooler did your wife use from OH to CA?
    I am traveling next week from IL to FL and need to carry home around 100oz of frozen milk. Having a hard time figuring out which cooler is the best.

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