When I first decided to do a girls’ trip in the middle of my larger Minnesota vacation to see family, my biggest concern was thinking about how to get enough breastmilk to MN to feed Harvey for the roughly 80 or so hours that I would be away from him. I’m leaving him with my parents on a Monday morning and returning on a Thursday afternoon, and since Harvey eats around 8x/day and 3-4oz a time, that meant I’d need to get around 100 oz of frozen breastmilk from Colorado to Minnesota.
Assuming a completely smooth travel day for us (*knocking on ALL the wood*) it will be 10-12 hours door to door on our trip there, including 2 flights and a layover in Denver. I decided that I do not trust the airline to not lose my checked bags, so I’m going to have to carry on this frozen milk AND lug it through the airports along with two kids, but it will be worth it to ensure it arrives safely in MN as intended.
According to the FAA’s handout on hazardous materials, packing the milk with dry ice would be allowed, but I’d have to package it in a special box that would allow venting of the carbon dioxide gas.
However, since our travel time should hopefully be less than 12 hours, I decided that I didn’t really want to dink around with it. If that is an option you would like to consider, I found a great post about traveling with milk on dry ice for you to check out.
At any rate, I decided that rather than paying to overnight ship my milk via UPS/Fed-Ex or trying to pack my milk with dry ice and bring it on the airplane, I wanted to try the old fashioned route of a simple cooler + ice packs in a carry on bag. I meant to buy this cooler based on MomPharmD’s recommendation, but I totally dropped the ball and failed to order it in time, so instead we picked up a soft sided cooler at the local discount store for $10 yesterday, and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that it works well enough for our purposes.
A few tips I’ve found in my research about this:
- Cold air sinks, so put the ice packs on TOP of your frozen milk in the cooler for transport.
- Fill all the extra air space in your cooler with newspaper to help keep things cold longer.
- If your milk has any ice crystals left in it when you arrive at your destination, you can still re-freeze it without issue.
- If there are no ice crystals left, it is recommended that it be used within 24 hours because of the loss of antimicrobial activity.
- See more milk storage guidelines here
- Here is the TSA’s handout regarding traveling with formula, breastmilk, and juice for infants and toddlers.
We are traveling on a Friday and the milk will be needed that following Monday – Thursday, so it really NEEDS to stay frozen during transport or we’re screwed. I’m pretty confident we will be fine though, partly because of how much milk I’ll be traveling with. All of that frozen liquid will help keep everything around it frozen as well. In all honesty, if I had 100 ounces of fresh milk available I’d rather travel with it that way as fresh milk can handle temperature variations better than frozen can and there are more nutrients in fresh milk. However, that’s not an option, so dipping into my frozen stash (thank you early pumping this time around!) is the best option.
Also, while I’m away from Harvey I’ll of course be pumping to keep up my supply, but since we’ll be drinking quite a bit as well, I don’t anticipate having more than around 50 ounces of fresh milk to bring back to Mom & Dad’s on Thursday because of having to pump & dump after drinking. As an aside, that is going to make me want to cry. GAH! At any rate, at this point I think my plan will be to use it those last couple of days as needed (yes, this is definitely a drinking trip) and then freeze any extra in their deep freeze to have on hand already when we go to MN for a week over the Christmas holidays. Harvey will be 11.5 months old at that point and still drinking breastmilk, not cow’s milk, so it will be nice to have some reserves up there already so we don’t have to travel with milk again!
So what do you think? Have I missed any crucial parts? Do you have any tips for traveling with breastmilk via airplane?