I wanted to share my experience with you all on traveling without LO and BFing. LLL has a few stories/posts on this topic and although they were definitely helpful, they were more of a summary than the details and specifics I was hoping for. So I hope that this will help you mommies who will be (or plan on) traveling without your babies.
I had begun my research on this topic while I was still on maternity. Because my BFing wasn’t going well at the time, I thought I would have weaned DS to formula by the time I had to take my business trip. I persevered and eventually BFing was a joy . While I was still on leave, I pumped and was able to build a freezer stash for my trip. I returned to work when DS was 3 months and pumped during the day and nursed as much as I could when we were together. When DS was 5 months, I panicked as my business trip was right around the corner .
So here is what I did….
Week before my trip (made my packing list):
(I packed [P] items with my pump and packed the [C] items into checked luggage):
Pump horns in gallon size Ziploc bag [P]
Medela cooler bag with ice pack and extra bottles [P]
Extra batteries for battery power source [P]
Medela Quick Clean Wipes [P]
Milk Storage Bags [P]
Small towel that smelled like DS [P]
Extra pump accessories (horns, membranes) [C]
Bottle brush [C]
Dish soap [C]
Medela Steam Bags [C]
Ziploc bags (gallon sized ones) [C]
Old hand towels [C]
Rubber bands [C]
I made printouts of the following and kept them with my pump:
TSA regulation on breastmilk http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...n/formula.shtm
TSA regulation on ice gel packs for medical / baby food purpose (under “What I Can Bring”)
American Airlines restricted items (the item of interest was dry ice. Depending which carrier you go with, you can go to their website for their policy)
Day before my trip:
I searched for the nearest UPS to my hotel. I called them ahead of time to see if they do overnight shipments of perishables and asked if they sold dry ice as well. I mapquested directions and printed them out. I also called the hotel that I would be staying at to reserve a fridge and a microwave for my room. They told me that since the room won’t be assigned until check in that they would supply me with them when once I was physically there. I agreed with hesitation (rightly so as you’ll see later).
Day of my trip:
My flight was scheduled at 5:15PM. I arrived at the airport at 3:30PM and checked in. I went through security without much trouble. They did a small wipe test on my pump and then passed it through the XRAY again before returning the pump to me. I was very appreciative that the security man was discreet. I waited until 4:30PM before I went to pump in the bathroom. I grabbed a bunch of paper towels before I headed to a stall. I had wanted to use the handicap one but they had the changing table in there and I didn’t want to hog the stall in case someone had to change their baby. So into a regular stall I went. I placed a paper towel over the sensor so it wouldn’t flush every time I moved. I wiped down the surface of the toilet holder with the Quick Wipes and laid paper towels on top of that (so I can set things down if I had to). I cleaned my hands with the Quick Wipes, hung my pump up on the door and tried my best to pump. It took a LONG time for letdown to happen but I kept smelling my DS’s towel and looked at his picture on my cell phone. I consolidated the EBM into one bottle in placed it in the cooler. I packed everything else back up and left just in time to board the flight. Depending on the airport, they may have family restrooms that would make it easier for pumping.
My flight was 6 hours long (flying from one coast to the other) and I decided not to pump during the flight. I couldn’t bring myself to pump in the airplane’s bathroom after my experience in a regular stall. I was definitely uncomfortable but thankfully the hotel was close to the airport. I checked in and asked for a fridge and microwave and was told they ran out. I was quite annoyed when I heard this but I told them that I had called ahead with my request. She eventually was able to locate a fridge but not a microwave. I was waitlisted for it and they would bring that to my room once one was free (which took a day).
I got to my room and pumped. By now it must have been 7 hours since I last pumped and it was definitely a relief. My fridge was already cold and I cranked it up to max and transferred all my EBM to bags and placed it in the little freezer compartment.
I pumped 4-5 times per day over the next 4 days. The fridge was supercold and kept my milk frozen even if it was out of the little freezer compartment. I used the microwave with the Steam Bags to sterilize my horns and bottles once a day. My supply dipped a bit but not substantially.
2 days before departure:
I went to the UPS store and filled out all the necessary shipment information. I had to put down $20 deposit for the dry ice. The UPS guy said they try to get the ice close to the last shipment (3PM) so that it lasts as long as possible. I told him I would be back tomorrow by 2:30PM. UPS can sell you the dry ice if you decide to check in or carry on your milk. Just make sure you check your airlines policy. For AA you can check up to 5lbs of dry ice or carry on 4.4lbs max. It costs $40 either way. I'd figure I would just have UPS do it since it works out to be close to the shipping charges.
1 day before departure:
At 2:15PM I sorted all my frozen milk, wrapped them inside my old hand towels, and secured them with rubber bands. I place each “loaf” inside a gallon Ziploc bag (total I had 3 loaves). Dry ice is extremely cold and I wanted to prevent the milk from having direct contact with it. I filled two more Ziploc bags with ice from the hotel and packed everything up in my tote bag. I realized then that I wished I had packed a soft cooler to keep everything cold. It was a brisk 5 min walk to the UPS store. When I got there, the UPS guy didn’t get the dry ice yet so I was a bit annoyed. He gave me the foam box to put my milk in and he placed the box into the freezer out back. He reassured me that everything will be kept frozen (after I asked and asked about the dry ice) and I paid the bill and left. It wasn’t cheap to send the package overnight but my milk is priceless. I returned to the hotel, lowered the fridge temperature so any milk I have from this point on would be cold but not frozen.
Day of departure:
My flight was scheduled for 8:55AM. I arrived at the airport and checked in around 7AM. Proceeded to security and the XRAY guy asked very loudly what the “black bag” was. I said, “Breastpump and the little cooler has milk” just as loudly and I got a few weird looks but I didn’t really care. I pumped a half hour before boarding (following same routine as above). Flight was delayed for landing due to weather and I thought I was about to die from not having pumped for over 8 hours! Finally made it home in time to see my DS before he went off to bed. My milk had arrived safely that same morning still frozen solid.
There were of course additional issues during my trip (plugged ducts mainly) but I’m proud that I managed to keep my supply going and all my BM while I was away. I am much more confident now that I can reach my 1 year goal. I know this post was WAY long but I hope it helps other moms who will be needing to travel without their LOs. I would be happy to answer any questions!