How to Save Pumped Breast Milk While Traveling

The Inspiration for a Solution :

If you’re wondering how to take a trip away from the little one while still exclusively breastfeeding (and I’m assuming you are since you clicked on this link), you’re not alone!

A few years back, when going back to work, I was bound and determined to provide breast milk for Emerson during her entire first year, no matter how difficult it might prove to be!

Good thing I love a good challenge, because while pumping on the job can be tricky, traveling cross-country for work proved to be MUCH more challenging.  And, while it was tough, it is still one of the greatest accomplishments, and labors of love,I could provide for my new little girl.

Looking back, day trips were painful and inconvenient (pumping and dumping in airport bathrooms didn’t allow me to bring anything back for Emerson other than a cheesy gift from the airport gift shop. And that’s IF I had time to get there between pumping and making it to my gate!) But the most daunting trip of them all was my company’s annual sales & marketing meeting.  If you’re in the corporate world, you know the kind of trip I’m talking about. This is the cross-country kind where I would be away from home from the early hours of Monday morning until late into Friday night.  Emerson was in great hands with Erik, my wonderful hubby and, then, stay-at-home Dad.  But, would they need the entire frozen stock of breast milk before I got home?! I was six months in, and determined to make it another six to reach my goal.   So, I did what any determined and savvy mom would do… I took to the internet for a workable solution to SAVE that breast milk I’d be pumping all week long!

After finding an amazing and workable solution, I swore that one day, I would pass what I learned onto other willful and determined working and traveling moms like myself, to make life a little bit easier.

The Game Plan:

  1.  There is an AWESOME company out of Texas called DryIcePacks.com.  They offer many different types of dry ice alternatives and frozen shipping solutions to choose from.  Their customer service representatives were so helpful in guiding me to the right product for my unique needs.  Since then, they have added a page specifically for shipping breast milk! Click here to view.
  2. The kit I use includes a shipping box, styrofoam cooler and two Techni-ice ice packs. I had it shipped to my attention to the hotel the meeting would be held at.
  3. I had the kit shipped to my hotel and called them, prior to let them know that a) the box would be coming to my attention and b) I’d need to reserve a refrigerator/freezer for my room for medical reasons.
  4. Before I left for my trip, I also created and printed a FedEx shipping label to affix to the box to ship home, choosing the “overnight shipping” option, since time is of-the-essence when working with “liquid gold.”
  5. I was happy to find the kit waiting for me upon my arrival to the hotel.  Per the instructions of the Technical-Ice packs, I soaked them in the tub to activate the gel-like solution in the pack.  They go from flat (making them light-weight and easy to transport) to plump.  See picture of hydrated pack, below.From there, I placed them in plastic bags, well-marked with my name and room number.  Room service picked them up and stored them in the hotel freezer for the week until I was ready to ship the breast milk home. *Note: For best results, the ice packs should freeze for at least 24-hours to get optimal performance out of them.
  6. I pumped diligently all week (ANY chance I could!) and stored the breast milk in my hotel refrigerator. As a side note, I find it easiest to travel lightly with a handheld, manual breast pump. I like the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump –and to store the breast milk compactly in the Pump and Save breast milk bags. They are so light and easy to use!
  7. The day before I left to come home, room service delivered the frozen pack to my room, where I was able to pack the breast milk (over 60 oz.!) in the styrofoam cooler, place in the cardboard shipping box, and take down to the front desk to ship home to myself.  (It’s a good idea to touch base with the front desk ahead of time to see what time FedEx normally picks up at that location, so that it doesn’t sit any longer than is 100% necessary).  Your other option would be to check the box and have it waiting for you at baggage claim at the end of your journey home.  I didn’t want to risk the chance of running out of our stock—so I had it shipped.
  8. I’m happy to report that my box of liquid gold arrived long before I did that Friday afternoon.  A much welcome sight to husband and baby.  And it gave me so much peace of mind knowing that the supply had more than been replenished thanks to my determined nature and a little bit of ingenuity!

Now that I have this system in place, I’m planning on using it for my new baby boy, Luke, when I travel to some awesome tropical location to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday.  I truly hope this info can benefit the rest of you nursing moms who are traveling while breast-feeding as well! So whether you’ll be traveling for work, or are lucky to get away on vacay for a few days, you’ve got the breast milk situation covered!

 

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