Pumping and Traveling: What to Pack and How to Store Milk on the Go

Pumping and traveling can be complicated. Ever seen those memes about packing for a trip? “Need 4 outfits, better pack 35 instead?” Well, it can feel like you need to pack a bunch of extra parts and supplies for pumping and traveling, too. There are so many things to think about. You have your regular work routine, you know what to pack to and from the office, where to store your milk, what supplies you need, etc. But how do you know which of these supplies to pack when traveling??

And even if you do figure out what to pack, do you know the best way to pump while traveling? How to store your milk, and clean your pump parts on the go? There are just so many things to consider when pumping and traveling. Read on for IBCLC Allison’s tips and tricks for pumping and traveling!

How to Pack for Pumping and Traveling

The best way to stay organized with all of the things you have to pack for pumping and traveling is to make a checklist and lay everything out so you can see it (and see if there’s anything missing!)

But what do you do if you need to pump right before you leave? Set up an alarm/reminder notification! Or there’s always the old stand-by, write a sticky note and put it on your suitcase “DON’T FORGET TO PACK PUMP!!”

So, here’s a review on how to start packing:

  • Make a checklist (you could print our sample packing list and check it off as you go!)
  • Lay out everything so you can see it before packing it away
  • If you have anything you can’t pack until the last minute, make a list on a sticky note on top of your bag

**Make sure you double check you have everything you need (including the small valves and parts)! Packing your pump assembled is a great way to ensure that you have all the bottles, tubing, valves and parts together.

Sample Packing List

Try printing out this sample packing list so that you can actually mark off everything you need. Visually seeing everything laid out, and physically crossing things off the list can help you remember that you’ve got everything you need.

  • Breast pump and power cord
  • External battery if needed
  • At least one (preferably two or three) sets of breast pump parts
    (in case a set gets lost, or you can’t clean it quickly)
  • Quick-clean wipes
  • Plastic zip-top bags to store dirty parts
    • Wet/Dry bag is another option but needs to be cleaned and dried
  • A travel-sized container of dish soap
  • Nursing cover or scarf for pumping in public or on plane (optional)
  • Travel drying rack
  • Breastmilk cooler (a larger one works better usually)
  • Extra bottles and/or milk bags

Space Saving Tips for Pumping and Traveling

To save space, consider break-apart flanges

These wide mouth connectors and flanges help save space because you can take them apart. They’ll be a little easier to clean while on the go, too! Don’t forget to grab some extra valves, they’re always handy to have around!

Try pumping straight into bags to cut down on space and reduce bottles to wash

Have you ever tried pumping straight into milk storage bags? This can be a great way to save space in your suitcase since you wouldn’t have to pack bottles. And if you aren’t using bottles, then you don’t have to clean them! Win, win!

Let’s say you are going to be away for just one day, so about 4 pumping sessions. Here’s what you need to pack if you plan to use bags instead of bottles:

  • 2 adapters
  • 8 bags (2 bags x 4 sessions)

(One thing to remember, even though you’ll save time washing bottles, you will still need to clean the adapters you use to pump into the bags.)

Want to try it out but don’t have the supplies? Check out our recommendations, here!

  • These wide mouth adapters that attach to your flange instead of a bottle are compatible with lots of different pumps.
  • You can attach the adapters to any brand of milk storage bags. There’s a couple different bag choices linked here: https://amzn.to/3NXaE7n or https://amzn.to/3xvtpYO
  • The Kiinde starter kit is another option. Their adapters are a little easier to use, and the starter kit comes with a handy shelf for your freezer.
  • Don’t forget extra Kiinde bags. If you choose to go with this brand of adapters you have to use their specific bags.

By the way, some insurances will also supply the Kiinde system as an option when you get your breast pump.

On-the-go Cleaning while Pumping and Traveling

It’s really important to clean your pumping parts whether you’re at home, at the office, or traveling. But cleaning on the go can be complicated! Sure, your hotel room will have a bathroom sink, but will it have the best soap for cleaning pump parts? Probably not. And where are you going to put the parts while they’re drying?

And then what about when you’re nowhere near a sink? How do you clean your parts? Check out all of our cleaning on-the-go ideas, here:

If You’ve Got a Sink, Try These Cleaning Products

No sink? These Options Can Work

Cleaning with soap and water in the sink is definitely the best option, but best isn’t always practical, and sometimes not even possible. So, here are some cleaning options that don’t require a sink.

Have You Tried The Fridge Hack?

If you’ve got a mini fridge in your hotel room, you can try the fridge hack. You might already do this! But in case you haven’t heard of it, you can learn more about the fridge hack in our Pumping for Working Moms Program. This is a great resource for working moms! We have tons of video lessons, as well as a great community of moms that are in a similar place as you.

How to Dry Your Washed Parts while Pumping and Traveling 

We’ve covered how to clean your parts when you’re pumping and traveling, but what about drying? Drying racks can be bulky and take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Wet pump parts in your bag can lead to damp clothes, or even worse, moldy pump parts. So what can you do? Here’s a couple of ideas:

You could try a wet/dry bag with drying mat.

  • Use this bag to carry ready-to-use pump parts. 
  • Use the attached drying mat to let parts air dry if available.
  • Place back in bag when finished

This portable drying rack is compact! It will easily fit in your suitcase and is a great drying option for your hotel room.

Don’t Have Time to Air Dry? Try These Quick Dry Ideas

Pack Spare Parts while Pumping and Traveling

If no fridge or sink is available, consider bringing an additional flange or cup set up to avoid washing parts until the evening. 

*Picture notes which parts you would clean, replace new each time (unless you feel you can get them clean enough with no water/drying time), or reuse each time.

In this setup, for one day of four (double pumping) sessions you would need:

  • 2 shields
  • 8 connectors/valves
  • 2 backflow protectors
  • 2 tubing
  • Sanitizing wipes or spray (See “no sink cleaning options” above!)

Optional: Carry extra backflow protectors as well, either full set or partial just in case you lose them!: https://amzn.to/39pVPeR

Milk Storage for Pumping and Traveling

Storing your milk while pumping and traveling doesn’t have to be complicated. Yes, it might be a little require a bit more planning than your day-to-day commute, but with the right tools you’ll be all set!

The Ceres Chiller is a simple, easy, and compact way to store breastmilk. About the size of a water bottle, the Ceres Chiller allows you to pump straight into its cooler, eliminating the need for extra bottles, adapters, or bags.

Milk Stork is a really cool company that ships your milk back home while you are away. They have a few different options like overnight shipping or TSA approved carry-on packaging.

If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, this cooler bag is inexpensive and a good size (or this one, too!) It’s big enough for a lot of milk bags, but not too bulky for your suitcase!

These large bottles would be great for storage. They’re inexpensive, so you could toss them after your trip.

You Can Do This!

Pumping and traveling is all about preparation! With a good packing list, and some helpful travel-friendly products, you will set up for success. Take a deep breath, you’ve got this!

Pumping and Traveling: What to Pack and How to Store Milk on the Go