How to Pump Breastmilk while Traveling Internationally (and bring the milk home!)

How to Pump Breastmilk while Traveling Internationally (and bring the milk home!) | Project Managing Mama


For moms who breastfeed, returning to work can be challenging. You have to remember to pack all of those breast pump accessories, take time away from your work day to lactate, and wash all 57 parts every single night. Another decision that must be made is holding off on all work travel until you are done breastfeeding. But why can't you do both? This post will provide you with everything you need to maintain your pumping schedule while traveling (even internationally) including a materials list, tips and tricks, and how to actually bring the milk home!

How to Pump Breastmilk while Traveling Internationally Materials List | Project Managing Mama

Materials List:

  1. Medela quick clean breastmilk removal soap

  2. Medela wipes

  3. Breast milk bags

  4. Gallon-sized Ziplocs

  5. Electric breast pump

  6. Breast pump accessories with bottles

  7. Hand breast pump with bottle

  8. Nursing cover

  9. Electrical plug adapter (if traveling internationally)

  10. Permanent marker

  11. Scotch tape

  12. Sheet of styrofoam

  13. Razor blade

Before you leave:

1. To make this work, I brought an extra carry-on with me for the sole purpose of bringing milk home. To insulate the carry-on, take the sheet of styrofoam and cut it using the razor blade so it will fit inside the pockets. 

traveling carry-on breastmilk pumping insulation
traveling carry-on breastmilk insulation

2. Email your hotel(s) and ask if they would be willing to store your breastmilk in their freezer. The hotels I stayed at were more than accommodating.

In transit:

1. Check your luggage like you normally would with the Medela quick clean breastmilk removal soap inside, but remember to keep the hand pump, wipes, nursing cover, breastmilk bags, permanent marker, and at least one Ziploc with you at all times! 

2. I decided to carry my electric pump with me, but looking back, I wish I would have just checked it. The hand pump did the job and wasn't nearly as cumbersome. Just to note, I didn't have any problems getting through security with a carry-on, backpack, AND separate bag containing my breast pump.

3. Once through security, ask a vendor to fill a bag with ice for you. You can use this to keep your milk cold if you pump on the plane. Just make sure the bag is in good shape because the bag I used was in rough shape and ended up leaking all over my backpack (ugh). 

breastmilk pumping traveling ice plane

4. Don't expect your travel adapter to work in all outlets. While on a layover in Poland, it was not only difficult to find an outlet, my travel adapter wasn't even able to sit in the outlet in order to function. Thank goodness I had that hand pump, let me tell you! (And this is where that nursing cover and wipes come in handy.)

Once you reach your destination:

1. Remind the hotel that you asked to use their freezer, tell them that you will be coming to them multiple times per day to drop off milk, and ask if they would like you to provide specific details each time you drop it off.

2. When you drop off your first dairy shipment, provide it in a gallon-sized bag with your name and room number. The goal is to have the hotel staff place each milk bag in the gallon-sized bag to minimize the risk of losing one in a freezer. I also labeled each milk bag with my name and room number.

3. Each night I washed and dried my supplies using the Medela quick clean breastmilk removal soap.

breastmilk pumping wash and dry traveling
breastmilk pumping wash and dry traveling

4. Do not forget, I repeat, DO NOT FORGET to pick up that frozen liquid gold when you leave!

Flight home:

1. Pack up your frozen milk in a gallon-sized Ziploc. I made sure to label the bag with my name and the contents in the event that the bag did get searched. I also folded the bag over, taped it to itself, and ran the permanent marker along the tape so I could see if it had been tampered with in any way. (You can never be too safe, am I right??)

frozen breastmilk traveling

2. Put your labeled bag of frozen milk in your styrofoam-filled carry-on and check it. The milk will stay plenty cold below the plane! 

Traveling and pumping is not easy, but with a little planning and commitment, it can be done. I hope these steps help you keep up that milk supply while not sacrificing your career! Please share and comment below with any other helpful tips you've learned.

Shop this post here!