Travelling With Frozen Breastmilk

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!


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  • lee

    Thank you for this post. We will be travelling to Switzerland in a month’s time and it got me really worried about breastfeeding and supply. I will work on handcarry the frozen breast milk onboard and revert here how it goes =)

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  • kopitalk

    Thank you for this valuable information. Could you please specify which box you were getting from Zenaco?

  • hs

    hi there! just wondering whether you’ve shipped any frozen breastmilk from US to Singapore? I’ll be travelling for work and will be pumping during the journey. Was hoping I could save the breastmilk and not have to pump and dump.
    Thank you!

    • SuperMommy

      Sorry, never had to bring milk back from the US to Singapore, but the airline regulations should be the same. You should call them up to check – just plan on being on hold for awhile. Good luck. :-)

      • hs

        Thank you for the reply! I hope for success with not too many obstacles :)

  • Hui Pheng

    Thanks for the post.. you did a great job. I would like to know more whether your 5months old baby jet lag at there? How did you handled with your baby jet lag situation? What was your baby behavior after such long hours flight? How did you travel around with your baby?
    Usually our supply is more at night (Singapore timezone). So, will our body tune to US timezone? Will our supply drop when back from travel?

    • SuperMommy

      Hi! Thanks for reading my blog. Yes both my boys were very jet-lagged. I tried to get both of them on a schedule as soon as I could, which took about 3 days. My kids were cranky, but fine and happy to see the family. I personally was a walking zombie – and super tired! As for your milk supply, it is usually more at night because when you sleep/rest your body produces more milk. My milk supply in the US was very low because I was constantly breastfeeding just to pacify my baby and didn’t have time to pump. When I came back to Singapore my supply was back to normal because I was able to rest and get back to my normal breastfeeding routine.

  • hady

    Hi, me and my wife also plan to bring frozen breastmilk to indonesia, can i get suggestion on what and where should i get the container? Thanks in advance?

  • llobak

    Thanks for your post. I last minute decide wanna bring frozen breast milk and thanks to your post. I got everything settled.

    Keep up the good job of posting super mommy. Thanks

  • lrenzi

    Dry ice = dead dog
    The airline would normally offload the dog and put the dog on a later flight on the same day though so it’s not an issue. The dog will be fine a few hours late but the milk can’t be refreshed with a little water so normally it would receive property and cargo second. In the case of two cargo requests (which milk is not) some airlines will prioritise first in, others will try and prioritise trade over pets, others fresh food over dogs. But you definitely cannot mix live animals with dry ice. I just found out last week when I tried to do both at once when moving our freezer full and our dog with the family to Hong Kong from Singapore. Cathy pacific gas been great btw.