Pumping and flying 101: Simple tips to make your time traveling a little easier

June 12, 2024

Tips and tricks for traveling while and pumping

There is one universal truth that everyone knows to be true, traveling can be stressful. Getting through the airport, (and let’s be honest, probably rushing because you’re a little late) can cause major anxiety. But what can make this even more fear-inducing, traveling while pumping. 

Where can I pump? What about all my parts? Will TSA let me bring my milk through security? All really valid questions. Luckily, our team at SimpliFed has a lot of experience doing exactly this. So, here are some tips and tricks on how to make it through with your milk and your sanity intact. 

Make sure to have the right pump for travel! 

There are so many different types of pumps out there it can be hard to decide which one is best. But while traveling, the decision can feel even harder. Most electric pumps (the best choice for milk removal) require a wall outlet. If you use this type of pump, it may be a good idea to purchase a chargeable battery pack. There are also different types of wearable pumps that can really come in handy while traveling. They require no outlets and are incredibly discreet while fitting under your shirt and bra. Check out our blog post on those here. And in case all of these options go wrong, it’s a great idea to bring a hand pump with you. 

Depending on the pump you use, you may feel more comfortable using a nursing cover to pump on a plane or in an airport. However, most airports also have Mamava pods that are a private, clean area to pump and relax. Make sure to research where those are if you’ll need to pump before or after take off. Important fact: You are allowed to pump during any stage of your flight. If anyone should tell you otherwise, remind them you are educated on all flight pumping policies and carry on! 

How to clean and manage your pump parts while away

So if you’re pumping, then you have to clean your parts, right? This may seem tricky, but here are some tips to make this a little easier.  Sterilizer bags are a great, easy-to-pack option. Simply microwave your parts to sterilize. Also, some companies now make TSA-compliant dish soap that you can bring with you through security as well as breast pump wipes that make moving quickly through airports a bit easier. 

Unfortunately, hotel rooms are not as equipped as your home to clean the pump parts once at your destination. If you can squeeze it in, bring a small plastic bowl to clean your parts. Instead of a dying rack, find a flat surface near the sink and place the pump parts on a bath towel to let them dry. When you check in, request a room with a refrigerator and a microwave. Also, a freezer is important to freeze your ice packs for your milk cooler. If you can’t get access to a microwave in your room, you can ask the front desk if they have a kitchenette that can be used. Also depending on what pump you use, take the time before you go to bed to charge all of your pumps and battery packs that need it. There is nothing worse than a plane taking off realizing your battery pack isn’t charged and your seat does not have access to an outlet. 

Milk storing and shipping 101

According to the TSA, you can bring breast milk and formula with you in ANY AMOUNT on the plane. But the rules and regulations are constantly changing, and every TSA agent may not be up to date. Be your own advocate. Print out this page on their website and have it at the ready. When you get to TSA, make sure you inform the agent of your milk, any storage units with an ice pack, and pump. Your pump may not get flagged, but the ice pack and milk definitely will. You can bring ice packs as part of the cooling unit on the plane, but it has to be frozen through. TSA will open up your milk and wave a short swab above it to capture fumes. No one should touch your milk, but this is their way of testing it. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with this, there are alternative procedures that include additional screening of you and the milk. For instance, if you’re traveling with frozen milk that you don’t want opened or the seal broken, you can ask them to pursue the “alternate procedures according to TSA policies.” Let the TSA agent know right away that breaking the seal will ruin your child’s milk. They are trying to do their job, but we know that not every agent knows every policy, as they are always changing. Be your own advocate, firm in your wishes, but also do your best to stay calm and understanding–these situations can escalate in a hurry (we’ve been there!). The ideal outcome is your milk stays intact and you move through security quickly without any trouble. If you do hand over milk, always ask the agent to change their gloves. 

There are a number of milk coolers on the market that are easy to use while traveling and depending on the model, they can keep your milk cool for over 10 hours. You can also research and use milk shipping companies such as Milk Stork


Remember to be your own advocate! Traveling while pumping can be tricky, but it is not impossible. For some extra guidance, meet with a certified lactation consultant before you leave. They can help develop a pumping plan to make sure you stay on track before, during and after your time away. They are also experts with years of experience helping families feed their babies–trust us, a little piece of mind will go a long way when dodging suitcases in your next terminal.