Working Moms

Pumping on Business Trip

Hey Everyone!

I'm usually a lurker but I had some questions that I'm hoping to get insights on from other working Moms. I'm going on a business trip next month for a couple of days and I'm still nursing my baby. I have enough BM in my freezer stash for him to be fed while I'm away but I have some questions about pumping on my trip.

  1. Has anyone transported pumped milk on a domestic flight before? I'm planning to store the milk in BM bags and then put bags of ice in my Medela PIS cooler bag - has anyone does this before and was the milk still ok? It will probably be in the cooler bag for around 8 hours.
  2. I've asked the hotel to provide a mini fridge but those don't seem to be very cold - has anyone had any experience with storing BM in a hotel mini fridge?
  3. Would I have to check my bag or will the TSA allow me to transport BM over 3 oz? I know that officially they have to allow it but I was wondering if anyone had any bad experiences with this.

Thanks and I'll appreciate any additional advice for all the working Moms who have been in a similar situation.

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Re: Pumping on Business Trip

  • Check out the TSA's medical liquids section - it applies to breastmilk.  You can bring everything as carry on (I would suggest it) and just declare you have medical liquids as you go through security.  The will pull your bag and do some extra testing.  They put the bags in a test, if it passes you're fine.  I had lots of the medela bags fail, something about the material and the fact that they aren't completely full.  They will then ask you to open the bags and they do a vapor test by placing a swab above the opening. They never touch or otherwise compromise the milk.  You should not be asked to taste it!  I always bring a print out of the section just in case I get a TSA agent who is not familiar. Plan for an extra 5-10 min, so if you're business travel is like mine, no rush through security to board at the last possible minute!

    I used a large refrigerator cooler bag that could handle four-five days of pumped milk.  The longest I used it was probably around 8 hrs, milk was still cold when I got home.  At the hotel at night, depending on the quality of the fridge, I use that or fill up on hotel ice.  I would bring extra ziploc bags to fill with ice each night/morning to use as ice packs.  I've brought those through security before, no problem with ice.  If they do give you a problem, you can dump it and get more after security.

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  • I travelled a couple of times with pumped milk. No problems getting through security, just plan to take a little extra time. I used a soft-sided cooler from Target, and those frozen gel pack things. If the gel is frozen, they don't treat it as a liquid so they don't do any extra testing of it. Alternatively, you can do freezer bags of ice. They may let you through with those, but the worst that will happen is you'll have to dump out your partially melted ice and replace it at a restaurant after security.

    At the hotel, I was always able to use the mini fridge, but I do check the temperature, and I usually have to turn it down. Surprisingly, I've always been able to refreeze the gel packs in the mini-freezer, too. If you don't trust the fridge, you can keep the BM in the cooler and replace the ice twice a day. 

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  • Traveling with BM is really easy. Get a mini fridge in the hotel room and make sure to check the temp as it may freeze your milk in the bottles.  I pumped, left the milk in the bottles and then every few pumps, combined into bags.  Once I combined in to the bags, I put the bags flat in the little tiny freezer in the mini fridge to freeze them.  To transfer home, I put all the frozen bags and a couple non-frozen bags in a soft-sided cooler bag with gel packs.  

    At security, just inform TSA you have breast milk and depending on what airport they will either check it or not care.  (On my trip, I went thru 3 airports, one ran a test on fresh milk, one opened the bag to confirm there was milk, and one didn't do anything).  After security, I stopped at a bar and asked for a couple cups of ice and put that on the milk.

    IMO, I wouldn't check the milk.  I'd just use it as my carry-on. 

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  • ss265ss265
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    Thank you for all your responses! You've definitely given me some useful ideas about pumping on my trip!

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  • We stayed in a hotel for a night away from DD last weekend. I knew the room wouldn't have a mini fridge so I was prepared to use the ice bucket. The room had an extra sink though so we just filled it with ice and once in the night we drained the water and topped it off with more ice. I've also heard that if hotels don't provide you with a mini fridge, they can store your milk for you but I haven't tested that out myself.
  • I didn't have to fly on my two business trips away from LO while nursing, but I brought a small cooler andput ice from the hotel ice machine in it.  There was a fridge but as you mentioned it was not cold at all.  If you had a large suitcase, maybe you could put a cooler in? 

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  • Carried 72 oz through security in DC a couple of weeks ago, with ice packs. There's no limit, but be prepared to pull out all bottles and bags into a separate bin for screening. Between the laptop, regular liquids, blazer and shoes, security is a pain with the milk because of all the stuff you are keeping track of!
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  • I have 3 and have done business travel/pumping with all of them. I don't think I've ever calculated how many ounces I've brought back, but I would estimate 6 times pumping per day x 5 days = 30 bags of milk at an average of 4 oz per bag.

    Here is something I've shared in the past: Traveling w/ BM: I don't like checking bags, so here's what I did. I purchased a professional ladies "bag" from Wilson's leather (about $50). It's 15" long, 12" tall and 5.5" wide. It also came with a small matching purse. Inside I am able to carry my laptop, my pump (not the whole PISA bag, just the pump), a square tupperware container (which inside has 2 sets of pump parts & tubing), 2 hardsided containers, BM storage bags, wallet, phone, magaize, black sharpie marker and a pashmina shawl. Inside my carry on suitcase, I pack very stragically - reusing pants, same shoes throughout the week, no hairdryer (use the hotel one); roll clothes instead of fold, and the purse. What I did for the milk was bring along a soft sided cooler (12 can size). At the hotel, I would fill it with ice 2x day (morning and evening) and kept the bags of milk inside on ice. Works awesome. On the day of departure, I would pack my bag so that there is enough room that the cooler could sit inside my suitcase. This is necessary since some TSA will require you to PROVE you can fit the cooler inside so you only effectively have 2 carryons. I position the cooler so that when I'm rolling my suitcase, the cooler is sitting right side up inside. You 'll need to pull the cooler out for TSA to inspect. Again I place the cooler inside the suitcase when it's time to board the plane (flight attendents can be a stickler about this, hence the reason I stick it inside); however when I'm on the plane, I quickly remove it before putting it in the overhead and place it under the seat in front of me along with the "professional bag". In my experience, the "medically" necessary fridge is so tiny (as in desk top book sized) that there's no way it can hold a week's worth of milk, let alone a couple days. Couple of other things....the pashmina - - I use not only to keep warm, but it works as a GREAT cover up when nursing in the restroom or elsewhere in public. I bring along 2 sets of gel ice packs and have the hotel restaurant freeze them the night before departure. I keep them in the cooler with ice until when I get to the airport. Before going through security, I dump all the ice out in the restroom sink and just leave the ice packs. After clearing security, I usually get more ice from the McDonalds or whatever, but have also used just the 2 frozen ice packs just fine. I keep all the milk in the storage bags and use the sharpie to record the date and oz info on the bag. Since I first pump into the hard containers, it makes it easy to know how much milk before putting into the bags. I keep all the milk fresh and then freeze once home so nothing spoils (I've always gone by the following: 8 hours room temp, 8 days in the fridge). I do carry the Medela cleaning clothes so that I can clean my pump parts. For two of my trips I knew I'd have access to a microwave, so I brought along the steam clean bags.

  • ss265ss265
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    member
    Thank you for the detailed response! You made me realize that I wouldn't be able to fit all the milk bags in the PISA black cooler bag and might have to get a separate cooler. I also completely forgot about my laptop bag so your packing hints will come in useful!

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