If you are reading this it probably means that you are planning a holiday somewhere and are trying to figure out the logistics of feeding your breastfed baby. You probably have a freezer stash of frozen breastmilk saved for emergencies, but what do you do if you are on vacation and have a “breastmilk” emergency. Your freezer is a million miles away. What do you do in this situation?

When my baby was only 5 months old we decided to take a three-week trip over Christmas to the US from Singapore. There were many factors I knew might pose a breastfeeding obstacle for both of us: (1) The 6 month growth spurt, (2) Teething, (3) Jet- lag for both of us, (4) A new environment, (5) Extra stress on me, (6) Late nights out, and (7) Not enough free time to pump.

In addition to taking a few bags of frozen breastmilk on the plane, I decided that I wanted to take some of my emergency freezer supply with me as “check-in” luggage.  There is not much information regarding how to travel with frozen breastmilk on the internet, so I decided to write about it here. This is what I did and I hope it helps you with your planning.

How To Plan For Your Trip:

Call Your Airline. Call the airlines and ask them about their rules regarding dry-ice. Most will be clueless. Tell them to check and call you back. Make sure you get the name and ID of the agent on the phone. Under TSA regulations, 5 pounds (2.5kgs) is the maximum amount of dry-ice you can have for checked in luggage.  4.4 pounds (2.2kgs) is the amount of dry ice for carry-on luggage, however, you are not allowed to take so many bags of frozen milk on the plane (only enough to feed your child for the duration of the flight).

Note:  When I spoke to Singapore Airlines on the phone, they told me that if there was a dog travelling on the flight, then I would not be able to check-in any item with dry ice.  WHAT!!  This statement kept me up many nights.  But I decided to take the risk.  If they wouldn’t let me check-in the milk I was planning on using my persuasive lawyer skills to allow me to take it on the flight.

Contact your local dry ice people.  I did some Google research on my own.  If you are not sure, call up Haagan Daaz or Ben & Jerry’s, or any other ice cream shop that sells pints of their ice-cream or ice-cream cakes.  Ask them who their dry ice supplier is.  If you speak to the manager, I am sure you can arrange to buy dry-ice from these places.  However, the tricky thing about dry ice is that you need a special container for such a long journey, otherwise the dry ice will just evaporate.

If you are in Singapore you can use Zenaco.  I spoke to the manager at Zenaco when I first started my research and he was extremely nice and helpful.  He spent a long time on the phone explaining the various options that I had (and trust me I ask a lot of questions).  Just make sure you plan well in advance.

Travel Day Logistics: On the day of our trip my husband went to pick up the container and the dry ice from the dry-ice distributor.  I filled one breastmilk freezer bag with 5 ounces (150ml) water the night before.  He took the frozen bag of water with him to show them.  My husband explained to them that I would be travelling with 20 of these frozen bags.  The people at the dry-ice place were able to assess the amount of dry-ice and the size of the box that we would need for my journey.

Cost for the Dry-Ice:  The total cost was S$20 for the container and about S$8 for the dry ice.   It is totally worth it for your child to be able to have an extra supply of breastmilk.

Airport Check-In:  The box of breastmilk was considered a piece of luggage, so pack your other bags accordingly.  I actually packed more dry-ice in the container than I needed because of the estimated time to the airport, etc.  Also, when they asked me I told them I only had 2.5 kgs in the box- which was the maximum (I probably had 3.5 kgs in the box (but I was not sure how much had melted already).  They marked the box with a special “dry ice” label and put it on the conveyor belt with the rest of our luggage.

Arrival at DestinationWhen we arrived in the U.S.A. and finally opened the container about 25 hours later, the box was freezing cold – it was colder than my normal freezer at home.  The special box and the dry ice had caused the container to go into a deep freeze mode, even though there was no dry ice left.

What would my trip have been like without the pumped milk?  Honestly speaking, if I didn’t have the extra bags of milk my son would have definitely started formula. I was physically tired and stressed. Handling a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a 5 month old baby in a new environment is no easy task. Even though I was taking a zillion lactating supplements, my body was in overdrive.

Would SuperMommy do it again?  I was extremely happy that I took all of the frozen breastmilk with me.  I actually wish I would have taken some more bags.

Good Luck & Happy Travels!