Advice about Business Trips
Saving breastmilk while travelling
Does anyone have suggestions about how to store and
transport breastmilk while travelling away from your
child? I am breastfeeding my second child, and will need
to travel for work in the near future. I hate to pump and
dump for 4 whole days. Have hotels arranged for
freezers? Has anyone found a way to ship the frozen milk
back home? Or keep it frozen while you carry it home?
Will dry ice work? Where can one get dry ice? Any
suggestions/experiences much appreciated!
There's some type of store on the corner of Powell & Hollis in
Emeryville (northeast corner) that has a sign in the window ''We
sell dry ice'' or something to that effect.
I have had several occassions to be in a hotel while pumping. I have spoken
to the front dask people when I arrive (or even before) and explained my
needs. They have always been accomodating (and one 22 year old boy quite
embarassed). I am quite sure they would help you find a freezer to access.
Ice packs in a soft cooler or lunch box should help you make it home.
Breast milk is quite sturdy. My lacation consultant said it was good for 5-7
days unfrrozen, so if all else fails, most will be ok in a refrigerator.
Dry ice can be found in your yellow pages if you want to go that route.
I just returned from a 3-day business trip and successfully
transported over 50 oz of breast milk. It wasn't easy, but well
worth it. Here's what I did. I brought with me 2 large soft
insulated bags (the kind that your can carry bottles in and can
use the freezer packs with - I suppose you could take a small
cooler, but that seemd to bulky for me), 6 freezer packs (I used
the hard ones that come with the medella pump), some large
Ziploc plastic bags and as many bottles as you think you need to
store the milk (obviously bring the largest bottles you have).
On the flight there I used the Avent hand pump and pumped in the
bathroom stall at the airport and on the airplane (I mentioned
to the flight attendants that I might be a while as I was
pumping so they could divert people waiting to other stalls).
While on the plane I asked the attendants to fill some of my
plastic bags with ice and I packed it in one of the insulated
bags with the milk. I found the ice held for many hours without
getting to melted, but the outside of the bag did get wet so you
may want to put in another bag as not to get other items wet.
The combination of the ice paks and the ice kept the milk plenty
cold without freezing it. At the hotel (I was staying in a suite
that had a large frig) if there is a small frig you can empty
the frig and put the milk in it, if there is no frig fill the
trash cans with ice cubes and put your milk and freezer packs in
it. Pump as often as you need to mirror your production at home.
Depending on where you are staying the hotel may be
accommodating and let you use the kitchen frig. I preferred not
to freeze the milk, just to keep it very cold, as I figured I
would need to freeze it once I was home and knew I couldn't
refreeze it. During the day I would bring the pump with me and
one of the large insulated bags with the ice paks and a Ziploc
bag - I'd pump in bathroom stalls and get ice as needed from
restaurants/vendors. For the trip home I did the same as the way
there, but needed to use both insulated bags for the milk and
all the cold paks and filled more plastic Ziplocs with ice. As
my flight was very long (I was traveling a good 12 hours) mid
way I drained the water from the bags with ice and refilled them
with ice on the planes). Wala! Good luck - you can do it! Karyn
I hate to be the voice of negativity, but I don't think it's
worth it to try to save your pumped milk. Sure, you can get a
fridge with a freezer--but it is probably not the greatest
freezer and may not keep the milk frozen hard, which I think is
important for sanitation. Also, yes, you can buy dry ice (I've
bought it from a local gas station a few times!) by finding a
place from the yellow pages, but shipping something with dry ice
is a BIG deal. This is because it is possible to make a bomb with
dry ice (the dry ice dissipates & the bomb goes off when the
plane is in the air). I did successfully ship breastmilk to a
friend's premie baby, but it was a really big deal to ship with
dry ice, and I had to use Delta Dash rather than Fed Ex or
anyone. I doubt you could bring along a box containing dry ice on
the plane as excess baggage.
Again, sorry to be so negative, but I think it's so hard as to be
impossible. Pumping & dumping is dejecting but neccessary to keep
your supply up. Kudos to you for breastfeeding your baby--it's a
I just solicited advice on this topic at the ''pumpmoms'' Yahoo
group (an excellent resource for pumping moms, BTW). I got
several helpful responses. You can go to www.yahoogroups.com and
register to access the site. Look for postings with ''Pumping
and Business Trip'' in the subject header.
Year's ago I downloaded an FAQ on pumping, perhaps it
was from misc.kids.info . Anyway, there was one woman
who went on a business trip, pumped, froze the milk, and
then shipped it overnight delivery to her kid's daycare. The
hotel where she stayed kept it in a freezer for her. I can't
remember if she used UPS or USPS, but it's worth checking
into. All this to say, where there's a will there's a way.
We will be in Europe for 8 weeks this summer with my
7-month-old baby, and I will be apart from her several days
a week during the day (in libraries and on the go). My
Medela Pump-in-Style will require a bulky, heavy transformer
to work with European electrical outlets--hard to carry
around all day. My Avent hand pump has no carrying case,
and if I have to pump more than once in a day there is the
question of whether a simple washing of parts (without
sterilizing) is adequate before I reuse them several hours
after a first use. I would appreciate any anecdotal
experience with regard to expressing and storing milk on
the go in Europe, including economical products that I might
get there or buy here to use there. We will be primarily in
Berlin and a few weeks in France.
Pumping milk in Berlin and France for 8 weeks is very doable.
I pumped milk daily on a 4-week European business trip last year
for my four-month-old son.
My husband watched my son while I worked - sometimes from 5 a.m.
to 11 p.m.
On numerous business trips since then when I was away from my son
for several days, I followed these same procedures:
I used a Medela Pump-in-Style and a Voltage Valet transformer and
outlet adapters purchased at Easy Going travel bookstore (on Rose
The transformer, European electrical outlet adapters and 5?
extension cord fit perfectly into the pump's compartments. (I
needed outlet adapter for Scandinavia, England, France, Spain and
Germany on that first Europe trip.)
I brought two Medela ice packs and eight Medela bottles. Each day
you bring one ice pack and four bottles with you, and store the
remaining ice pack in a freezer at your hotel or apartment,
keeping your daughter's milk for that day or stretch of days
in the remaining bottles. You might need more bottles depending on
how much milk she drinks a day.
After each pumping, I rinsed out the cones with water, then at
night soaked them in a sink of hot soapy water. Bring a small
toiletry container of your dishwashing soap from home.
Every two days, I dumped a big hotel thermos of boiling water over
the bottles, nipples and cones. I did not sterilize the bottles,
nipples or pump parts during the trip. My son did not appear to
suffer because of it.
On that trip and subsequent business trips away from my son, I
expressed my milk in some nutty locations: the basement of a Paris
fish restaurant, a secretary?s closet in Madrid, a train lavatory,
the back of a NYC taxicab while the cabbie covered the rear-view
mirror, the galley of a 747 while female attendants held a blanket
over me, and on more bathroom floors of convention halls than I
care to remember.
Don't forget to tuck some photographs of your daughter and some
Luna energy bars into your pump.
It's neither fun nor easy, but if you're committed to giving your
child breastmilk, it's what you do.
Don't hesitate to contact me for advice or encouragement.
I've pumped while travelling, but not in Europe, using my
Ameda Purely Yours pump, and it works great. You can use
it w/ AA batteries, (and they last surprizingly long) so you
don't have to worry about adaptors. It's small and light, and
the milk doesn't get in the tubes, so cleaning in a hotel room
is no problem. Instead of the more expensive travel kit, I
bought the basic double kit ($127 at Kaiser if you're a
member) and use a $7 cooler from Long's.
If I were going to Europe, I'd be confident this pump would
be up for the job.
I had the same problem with pumping at work-the electric
pump & carrying case is heavy & unwieldy. I think what I do
now could work on a trip-I carry the Avent Isis handpump in
a tupperware container, or if necessary in a ziploc bag. I only
rinse it with hot water after each use at work, then each
evening at home I wash it. In terms of transporting it, my
favorite insulated bag is the one they gave me at the
hospital-that Enfamil yellow bag, because it is SO compact
and fits three bottles plus two ice packs. If you don't have
that one, I would shop around for an insulated bag that is
just the right size.
Well, I don't know if you're going to like my suggestion, but
here it is anyway: pump and dump. Don't take the big Pump-in-
Style, it will be heavy and awkward to schlep around. In
addition, I have never had much success with converters and
transformers when travelling in Europe: it seems to me that my
appliance is not as powerful. Besides, do you really want to
expain to the guard at the Bibliotheque Nationale what the
contraption in that ''discreet'' black carrying case is? :)
So my suggestion is to use the hand pump when you're away from
your daughter and nurse her whenever you're together. Just toss
the milk you pump (since I think you're right to worry about the
bacterial issues) and have your husband feed her water or
formula during the day. If you pump while you're in Europe,
you'll keep up your milk supply enough to resume nursing as
normal when you get home.
I honestly think that the few weeks of part-time formula or
water rather than breastmilk is not going to make a bit of
difference in your daughter's health or your milk supply (again,
as long as you pump) and that you'll enjoy yourself much more if
you don't have to worry about all various pumping/storing
issues. Keep in mind this is coming from someone whose daughter
never had a drop of formula, so you know I'm pro-breastfeeding.
Have a great trip!
I would take the Avent pump. I have heard of many women
who do not wash the horns after every pump and just wash
them at the end of the day. They just put them in with the
milk, somewhere cold, and pull them out for the next
pumping session. As for storage cold packs can last in a
cooler all day, you could carry that around. Good Luck
When I brought my Nurture III breast pump to France two years
ago, I found that it did not pump with as much gusto as it did
in the U.S. Apparently many U.S. appliances do not work with as
much umph when using European electricity. As you can imagine,
this made the breast pump rather useless. I got more milk by
hand expressing. I say go with a battery operated or hand
operated model. Have a great trip.
another traveling mother
I didn't see the original post, but thought my experience with
this may be helpful. I owned a Pump-in-Style that I used very
successfully in Europe (France and England) for 2 weeks, while my
solely breastfed 5 month old was at home with Grammie (i.e. I was
pumping a lot of milk at this point). It is also my experience
that US appliances don't work as well in Europe, even with a good
quality converter. However, it occurred to me that Medela likely
sells this pump in Europe - so that there would be a European
plug manufactured and sold for this unit that would not require a
converter. This did prove to be the case and they can be ordered
through Medela for $20.00 each. I thought this was a bit steep,
especially since I needed a different one for England and France
- but I figured that when I got there and was spending hours in
my hotel room hand pumping, or in pain, or worse, losing my milk
production, I would regret not buying it. The good news is that
with the European plug it worked fine. I tried it with a
converter (just to see if I had wasted my money)- and it barely
pumped at all. It was well worth the investment; in my mind it
paid for itself just on the 9 hour flight to Paris. We flew on
Air France - so I was also able to use it on the airplane. Since
a different plug is needed for England, and we were going to have
a rental car there - I opted just to use my car adapter
(available through Medela or retail stores). The main drawback
to this - other than the obvious privacy issues, was that it was
December and it got a bit cold going out to the car at night. I
would suspect that the other leading pump manufactures also make
a European plug for their models?? I still have the European
adapter for the Pump-in-Style, free to a good home. I am
temporarily separated from it until the 1st week in August - but
if you don't need it until after then, send me an e-mail. Good
this page was last updated: Dec 21, 2003
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