Traveling with children can be tough, especially with toddlers or small babies. There is a lot to pack and prepare for your family trip. If you are breastfeeding your baby, then it’s a good idea to freeze your breast milk so you have it available when your little one needs feeding.
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In this travel guide, we learn about things you need to consider when traveling with frozen breast milk, how to pack your breast milk, and how long the milk can last.
Things To Consider Before Traveling With Frozen Breast Milk
As you are packing breast milk for your trip, there are a few things that you need to consider.
The Amount Of Milk
How much milk you need to pack depends largely on how long you are going away. If you are going away for a weekend, you are fine to pack only small amounts of frozen breast milk. You may even be fine just taking your breast milk pump.
On the other hand, if you are away with your baby for longer, then you will need to calculate carefully how much your little one needs each day.
Access To A Freezer
You will also need to consider whether you have access to a refrigerator or freezer on your travels or at your destination. For a short trip, you likely won’t need a lot of frozen breast milk, but if you take a large amount, you will need to store your breast milk somewhere.
Flying Or Driving
When you are traveling with frozen breast milk, then driving is one of the easiest options. You can take as much breast milk as you like, and you are not restricted in any way.
This looks very different from flying. Whether you are taking an international flight or just a short-haul flight, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) set out specific rules for flying with breast milk, formula, and juices.
You can carry 3.4 ounces / 100ml in your carry-on bag, together with freezer packs or ice packs to cool your breast milk. However, there may also be specific requirements set by your airline. Make sure to check with your airline.
In our article about Navigating Airport Security with Children, we discuss how to handle TSA and security screening with children, including the 3-1-1 liquid rule.
How To Pack Your Frozen Breast Milk For Airplane Travel
While you can pack your frozen breast milk any way you like when you are in your own vehicle, there are a few techniques to make sure your breast milk adheres to TSA guidelines when you are traveling by plane.
The guidelines below also ensure that your breast milk stays cool for longer. This means you can also use them for car travel.
Line Your Breast Milk Bag With Aluminum Foil
Depending on the type of bag that you are using to carry your breast milk, make sure that it is lined with aluminum foil or another type of reflective lining.
Alternatively, you can also use a specifically designed breast milk carrier bag that protects your breast milk and keeps it frozen for longer.
Pack Your Breast Milk Bags Tight Together
Frozen breast milk bags are like ice cubes. The tighter you can pack them together, the longer they keep cool during your travels.
Any air between the bags warms up the milk, which can result in your breast milk going off. If you find that there is still too much space in your bag, then fill up the space with ice packs.
Use Ice Packs Throughout Your Cooling Bag
When you are traveling with frozen breast milk, then ice packs are essential. They ensure that your milk stays as cool as possible for longer.
It’s important to know here that any ice packs that you want to take on the plane should be frozen solid. If the ice packs are a gel or liquid, then the TSA won’t accept them on the plane as they are classed as a liquid.
Put A Label On The Outside Of Your Bag
Adding a label on your breast milk bag is never a bad idea, especially at busy airports. Your frozen breast milk bag will need to go through screening at the airport. The label will make it easier for customs officers to check the contents.
Plus, they are then immediately aware that the bag contains cool goods which shouldn’t be opened.
Essential Tips For Traveling With Frozen Breast Milk
Besides packing your frozen breast milk into a sealed cooling bag, there are also some essential things you need to be aware of during the trip.
Don’t Open The Cooler Bag
Once you packed your cooling bag with all the frozen breast milk bags or bottles and ice packs, you should not open the bag again.
Every time you open the bag, it allows warm air to thaw your milk. That’s why it’s a good idea to pack your breast milk cooler bag shortly before leaving for your trip.
Once the bag is packed, you can store it in the freezer. Make sure to leave yourself a reminder so you don’t depart without your frozen breast milk!
Always Put The Breast Milk Into Your Carry-On Bag
Unless you travel with a large quantity of breast milk, it’s best to keep it nearby in your carry-on bag.
Checked bags often get a rough treatment, so it is a good idea to keep your fragile load with you. Read this article to learn more about How To Avoid Lost Luggage.
Use Clear Bottles To Carry Breast Milk
At the beginning of the security screening process, inform the TSA officer that you are carrying breast milk. To expedite the screening process, carry breast milk in clear, translucent bottles, not pouches or plastic bags.
Bottle Liquid Scanners may not be able to screen liquids in plastic bags or pouches. Therefore, you may be asked to open them up for additional screening.
Store Your Cooling Bag Under The Seat
Not every airline allows you to store your bags under the seat. However, it’s worth checking with the flight attendant.
The space under the seat in front of you is one of the coolest spots on the plane. That’s why you should try to store your breast milk bag under the seat.
How Long Will Breast Milk Stay Frozen With Ice Packs?
Frozen breast milk packed with ice packs in a cooler bag can last up to 24 hours. However, this depends on how it is stored. If you store the cooler bag at room temperature, then it is likely to last for up to a day.
Be aware that once your breast milk is completely thawed, it should be used within 24 hours. Do not re-freeze thawed breast milk. Learn more about how to store, freeze and thaw breast milk.
Traveling with frozen breast milk doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need to pack your cooling bag correctly and consider the length of your journey and how much milk you need.
For more about family travel, check out these posts:
Navigating Airport Security with Children
Surviving Jet Lag with your Baby or Toddler
Complete guide to getting your baby or child a U.S. passport
How to Travel with a Baby