As I mentioned yesterday, in the past month or so, I have been on 8 different airplanes for a couple of business trips. This meant I was traveling without my family, including babies, and would need to pump breast milk while away. I searched and read all over the internet, and still felt so overwhelmed and nervous before traveling. When would I pump? Would I have a place to pump? Would I have enough time between flights to pump? Would I have a hard time getting through security with my prized "mommy milk"? So many questions, and so many unknowns for this first time traveling pumping momma. But I found that it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd made it to be in my head, and with a little pre-planning and the right supplies, it was fairly stress free.
I previously shared the supplies I found essential to making my experience flying and pumping fairly stress free. Today, I’m sharing a few tips that I hope will help you feel more at ease and answer some questions you may have.
Packing & Supplies │ Carefully think about the supplies that you may need. Depending on where you are going, you may not have access to a store to pick things up. I was in foreign countries, with no Walmarts or Targets, so my packing was checked and checked again then triple checked. You can read the list of must haves that worked for me here.
Be Flexible │ Do the best your best to stick as closely to your schedule as you can but know that traveling is a time when you likely won’t be able to stick to your regular pumping schedule, especially if you aren’t comfortable pumping just anywhere.
Research Airports │ With a simple Google search, I found that the two major airports that I would be traveling through had special rooms dedicated to nursing/pumping moms and families. Miami International Airport had these AMAZING nursing pods for nursing/pumping only throughout the airport. They are private pods located at various gates in each terminal. The pods come equipped with a comfy bench, table, mirror, and outlets. I said it a million times on social media, but these made things so much easier! Since, I’ve seen that other airports have them as well.
Bring a Power Bank │ Not everywhere will have a lactation room, or perhaps you’re on a business trip where you won’t have access to your hotel room throughout the day. You may even need to pump in your airplane seat. A power bank will help put your mind at ease as to whether you’ll have a place to plug in your pump. Having access to an outlet anywhere will be a huge stress reliever.
Call Ahead │ Call ahead to double check that your room will have a mini-fridge. If not, request one. Kindly explain why it is needed, and, most of the time, hotels are happy to accommodate. If your mini-fridge doesn’t have a freezer, the night before departure, ask that your cooler pack be put in the hotel’s freezer for you to pick up before leaving.
Getting through Security │ This was the easiest part for me, and what stressed me out the most. I would be traveling out of the country and the rules aren’t always consistent with the U.S., but I had no problems at all at the foreign airports. I did have to have my milk go through extra screening in Miami. Even so, it wasn’t too big a deal. My biggest takeaways are 1) Make sure that you remove the cooler bag with milk from your other bag. 2) Let the TSA agent know you are traveling with breast milk, all that I encountered simply nodded and we all went on like normal, well because it IS normal. 3) If your milk does have to go through extra screening, ask that the agent doing the check put on fresh gloves. And don’t worry, they won’t take your milk out of your sight. 4) Just relax. TSA is used to this, even if you are not. Most agents will treat you and your milk with respect and care.
I hope these tips will help put your mind at ease about pumping & traveling. Please reach out to me with any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Or do you have any tips to add? I would love to hear them!