HOW TO TRAVEL WITH FROZEN BREAST MILK
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.
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HOW TO PACK YOUR FROZEN BREAST MILK TO TRAVEL ON AN AIRPLANE
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.
My Favorite Ice Packs for Traveling with Breast Milk
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.
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TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH FROZEN BREAST MILK
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.
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.
- Pack your frozen milk tightly and completely in a cooler bag
- Use ice packs throughout the bag with your frozen breast milk (avoid gel packs)
- Label the bag for security
- Carry on or check your breast milk
- Do not open the cooler bag until you reach your destination
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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.
Last update on 2022-07-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API