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Travel Pumping Guide: What to Pack & What to Know When Pumping On-The-Go

Travel Pumping Guide: What to Pack & What to Know When Pumping On-The-Go

Here’s everything you need to know about pumping while traveling — whether you’re heading on vacation or just making your way to the office. 

Preparing to pump on the go? There’s a lot to prepare for, from packing your bag with pump parts and bottles to reading up on safe milk storage and figuring out how to stay on schedule to maintain your supply. Below, we’ll cover: 

  • Essential products for pumping on the go 
  • How to clean your wearable pump 
  • Staying on a schedule
  • Knowing your rights when traveling 

Essential Products for Pumping on the Move
Before you head out, stock your bag with these pumping, packing, and cleaning essentials.

A hands-free wearable breast pump
While our Willow Go is a mom favorite for everyday pumping, the Willow 360 is leak-free (a game-changer when pumping in transit) and compatible with self-sealing milk bags that are ready to store when removed from your pump — no milk transfer necessary. Just put the bags straight into your cooler bag and carry on! 

Shop Pumps

Willow Travel Cleaning Pack
Our all-in-one cleaning system is designed with eight pegs to hold all of your bottles and pump parts, and includes a variety of brushes to clean nipples and containers of all sizes. 

Shop the Travel Cleaning Pack 

Willow Portable Breast Milk Cooler
Designed to store your milk at a safe temperature for up to 24 hours with a TSA-complaint gel ice pack that remains separate from liquid for easier cleaning. It has a top handle for easy carrying and fits in most car cup holders, too. 

Shop the Portable Breast Milk Cooler

Dapple Baby Pump Cleaning Kit
Made with plant-based ingredients that are hypoallergenic and pediatrician tested, this curated collection of soap and wipes will keep your parts clean when you’re away from your kitchen sink.

Shop the Dapple Baby Pump Cleaning Kit

Willow Pump Anywhere Case
Our compact case is durable, easy to clean, and built with a tray to hold your pumps in place and a mesh pocket for storing accessories. Throw it in any diaper bag (or our Pump Anywhere Bag) and you’re ready to go.  

Shop the Pump Anywhere Case 

How to Clean Your Wearable Pump

When you’re on the go, the most important thing to remember is that you’ll want to rinse your parts in warm water after use (or wipe them down) even if you don’t have time for a full soapy lather. This will prevent milk residue from building up — essential for prolonging the life of your pump and parts. 

If you can’t rinse your parts right away, consider investing in a wet bag like this one from Stasher. These keep your used pump parts separate from your clean items and prevents any leakage mishaps. 

Once you get home, you should: 

  • Separate the flanges and other parts and soak them for a minimum of five minutes in water with mild dishwashing soap before brushing and scrubbing them clean.
  • Rinse all parts thoroughly and place them on a paper towel to air dry. Be sure to repeat the cleaning process if you see residual milk on any of the parts.

If you’re not using a foldable cleaning pack (like our Travel Cleaning Pack!), make sure to travel with an absorbent towel so that you can lay out pump parts and bottles to dry. 

Staying on Schedule 

Whether you’re traveling or returning to work, you’ll want to schedule pumping into your day.  

This schedule will depend on a lot — your let-down periods, the amount of milk you pump during a single session, whether or not you’re with your baby during your lunch break or on your trip, and more. Plus, external factors (like your commute time and the sort of work you do, or whether you’re traveling by plane or train) will play a role!

Pumping at consistent intervals is key, since it will allow you to maintain the supply that you’ve established — whether you’ve been exclusively pumping, pumping and nursing, or combo feeding.  In an ideal world, this schedule would match up with the schedule your baby normally follows. But we don’t live in an ideal world, so find what works for you and run with it!

Below, find some back-to-work schedule templates that could be easily adapted for travel. (Note: these assume you’re breastfeeding and pumping, but if you’re exclusively pumping, just replace “breastfeed” with an additional pumping session!)

Sample pumping schedules

Schedule 1 (Hour commute)

Schedule 2 (30 min commute)

Schedule 3 (With lunch visit)

Schedule 4 (Hybrid or WFH)

5 a.m. Pump (Store for day)

5 a.m. Breastfeed

5:30 a.m. Breastfeed

5 a.m. Breastfeed

6:30 a.m. Breastfeed

7 a.m. Pump (Store for day)

7 a.m. Breastfeed

7 a.m. Pump

8-9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30 - 9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30-9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30 - 9 a.m. Commute to work

9 a.m. Pump at work

10 a.m. Pump at work

9 a.m. Pump at work

9:30 a.m. Pump at work

12 p.m. Pump at lunch

1 p.m. Pump at work

12 p.m. Breastfeed

12 p.m. Commute home

3 p.m. Pump during break

4 p.m. Pump at work

3 p.m. Pump during break

12:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5-6 p.m. Commute home

5-5:30 p.m. Commute home

5-5:30 p.m. Commute home

3:30 p.m. Breastfeed

6 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Pump

8:30 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

10:30 p.m. Pump
(Store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump
(store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump
(store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump
(store for next day)


Traveling by Plane? You’ve got Rights.

Before you go, learn more about the airports you’ll be traveling through and the policies of your airline.All midsize and large airports in the United States are required by federal law to provide lactation spaces “at each passenger terminal building of the airport behind the airport security screening area.” Research where to find them and when you can use them. (Mamava, a lactation pod provider, has a free locator app, which includes reviews by other parents so you know the amenities to expect, from rocking chairs to outlets.)

Plus, remember:

You are allowed to travel with breast milk

Breast milk is not held to the 3.4-ounce limited-quantity rule for liquids, and you don’t need to travel with your child to bring it. During your security screening, let the Transportation Security Administration agents know that you’re traveling with breast milk, and separate your pump and bottles (empty or full) from any carry-on liquids that you have to screen.

You are allowed to travel with freezer packs 

You can carry freezer bags with ice packs or gel packs to keep your breast milk frozen. We recommend using gel packs because, unlike ice packs, they don’t need to adhere to the liquid limit of 3.4 or fewer ounces after they begin to thaw and get mushy.

You can choose where you pack your pumps and parts

The Food and Drug Administration deems breast pumps medical devices, which means that you can carry them separately from (or inside of) your carry-on bags. Pack your pump, breast milk, and gel packs together for easy access.

Now that you’ve got a plan — we’re wishing you safe travels (or easy commutes) and happy pumping.