Let’s be honest, traveling WITHOUT breastfeeding can be stressful, add in breastfeeding or pumping to the mix and you may start to feel overwhelmed. I’m here today to make traveling while breastfeeding as easy as 1-2-3! In fact, traveling while breastfeeding can become a breeze. Take it from a mama who took 17 solo flights during one summer with a four month old (yes we did that and yes we survived). It was daunting at first, but by the time our summer of travel was over, I was so excited to show my husband how easily I could get through security WITHOUT HIS HELP!! And with a smile on my face! Keep reading to find my tips on traveling while breastfeeding that will make your summer travel plans a complete breeze!
Will you be breastfeeding or pumping on this trip?
Since sometimes we take baby along and sometimes we don’t (think work trips or weekend getaways sans babe), I want to share 3 tips for each type of trip! I’ve also included some freebie downloads to help you get access to my favorite tried and true products and time-saving travel hacks.
Traveling with a breastfeed baby in 1,2,3
1. Plan ahead for pit stops and be ready to adjust.
Once you have your trip “booked” (whether it’s by air, land, or sea!) make sure you take a second to think ahead and pencil in some extra time. Do what you can to “plan out” some pit stops, but go into the trip knowing that baby will add some variation to your plans. As I teach in my classes and talk about on instagram daily, it’s best to follow baby’s lead when they want to eat. Baby’s meal times can be unpredictable!
For road trips: take a look at the map and the potential rest stops along the way. Plan ahead some definite stopping points and also make note of additional safe areas to stop if needed.
For flights: take a look at your itinerary. About what time will you get to the airport, about how much time will you spend waiting at the gate, how long is your flight, etc. Mentally walking through your trip beforehand can decrease some anxiety and increase your confidence that you’ll have plenty of time and space to feed your baby or pump as often as you need to.
A big reason why coming up with a breastfeeding travel plan is so important is because your baby’s response to being in a new environment is unpredictable. They may sleep for the majority of the trip, they may feel overstimulated and more fussy than normal. Try not to be stressed, upset, or worried if your baby needs to feed at unusual times – you can truly feed your baby whenever and wherever you need to! Try to approach traveling with an infant with a sense of humor and it will help you feel at ease to the “bumps” along the way!
2. Bring the essentials, leave the rest.
While it’s tempting to pack your whole house because of all the “what ifs” that could happen during a trip, trust me, less is more. Here are a few things I’ve found to be essential en route to your destination with baby in tow:
Extra clothes for baby. Its inevitable they will need a clothes change during the travel day. Try to keep it simple with onesies and pants or a footed onesie.
Extra top for you. If baby spits up on you or you spill your drink changing baby’s position, you’ll be glad you have a dry t-shirt in your bag so you don’t have to spend the rest of the trip wet and sticky.
Garbage sack for dirty diapers. Have you ever handed a flight attendant a poopy diaper? If so you’ve received the ultimate stink eye followed by the infamous eye roll. If you pack a few garbage sacks (I actually like doggy poopy bags the best for this), you’ll contain any smell and avoid that eye roll!
Nursing cover. This is such a good item to include as it allows privacy even in tight spaces like an airplane. Of course you can feed baby without a cover, it’s all up to your comfort level and what works for you. You can also use the cover to protect baby from germs on high chairs at restaurants, too. Our favorite Milk Snob covers actually have 5 different uses that will make your life as a mom so much easier! They have a ton of cute prints in their original cover but they also just launched their Luxe Cover line and these covers are so smooth and soft for both mom and baby’s comfort! They are made out of one of the softest and stretchiest materials that I have ever felt!
Here are all 5 of the amazing ways that you can put these cute covers to use if you’re traveling while breastfeeding:
- As a nursing cover
- As a carseat cover
- On the shopping cart
- On a highchair
- As a baby swing cover
PRO TIP: When traveling by plane, the pressure change from takeoff and landing can bother baby’s ears and make them upset. If you breastfeed during takeoff and landing, the sucking can help ease the pressure change and alleviate any discomfort for baby.
Here are some of our other favorite items for traveling while breastfeeding:
3. Dress for the ‘breast’!
When you’re traveling, you never know when you will need to bust out the breast and feed your babe on demand! There are so many really cute, trendy, and comfy nursing clothes on the market these days. Some of these nursing clothes are hard to even tell are nursing clothes. Essentials include a nursing tank, nursing bra, and a few tops that can pull up or down with ease. Check out this post and also find some of my favorite nursing friendly tops and dresses here.
Traveling & Pumping in 1,2,3
- Go from lunch meetings to let-downs with ease!
You might want to think twice before packing that cute sheath dress that you’ll have to pull up to your ears in order to pump. Packing clothes that are appropriate for the occasion (work or otherwise) but also have easy access for pumping on the go is so important. Starting with a nursing bra that is supportive, comforable, and functional is a game changer for traveling and pumping. I love Bravado Designs Clip and Pump accessory because it attaches right to any bra (nursing or otherwise! so you can have hands free pumping without changing bras. Find my favorite seamless, ultra comfy, nursing bras here. Find the Clip and Pump accessory here.
- Don’t forget to pump frequently
Frequency is so important! Plan to pump about every 2-3 hours while your traveling. You also want to get the most milk out in less time right? Hands-on pumping is the best way to do that! I cover that in detail in my Pumping and Storing breastmilk course.
PRO TIP: Look at pictures or videos of your baby while pumping. Research shows that Moms that do this get more milk out during their pumping sessions!
- Keep your liquid gold safe!
Call ahead to the hotel and ask for a room with a mini fridge to store your medications. Did you know that breastmilk counts as a medication? If that’s not an option ask them if they have a fridge to store your milk. If that doesn’t work, you may consider using a soft cooler and changing out the ice frequently. There’s also a new service called Milk Stork that will pickup and ship your breastmilk on dry ice directly from your hotel. Your employer may even approve this as a travel expense. If all else fails you can pump and dump (or donate to a local milk bank) while you’re away to maintain your milk supply for when you return.
PRO TIP: How long is my milk good for? Remember the “Rule of 5s”
- Breastmilk can be stored for 5 hours at room temperature of up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Breastmilk can be stored for 5 days in the refrigerator at less than 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Breastmilk can be stored for 5 months in the freezer at less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are traveling or at work, milk can be stored in a soft cooler for 24 hours as long as it stays under 60 degrees fahrenheit.
TSA says: If you’re traveling by plane, according to the United States TSA,you are absolutely allowed to bring breast milk on board (it’s not subject to the 3 oz liquid limit), whether or not your baby is traveling with you. Just make sure you declare your breast milk during your security screening.
Are you a frequent traveler? Have you used any of these tips or have some of your own to share? Would love to hear in the comments below!
Make sure to fill out the form below and download my 5 PRO TIPS for traveling and breastfeeding!
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC