Breastfeeding Article Disclaimer: I’m a firm believer that fed is best; that each parent should do what needs to be done to properly care for herself/himself and for her or his child. I write about breastfeeding because it’s my personal experience; never to shame and never to divide. Please help keep this community positive by choosing not to participate in the shaming of another parent or another parent’s choices—here or anywhere. We are all in this together.
One of the best things about going on a road trip is the openness; the sense of freedom; the feeling that anything could happen. Even when planned to a tee, there’s still this spontaneous element.
When I was planning my first road trip a few months after giving birth to my first daughter, I was completely stressed out because I was breastfeeding her.
Breastfeeding, with its schedules and regulations, is pretty much the complete opposite of the carefree roadtripping vibes that make traveling by car oh-so-worth-it.
However, with a little bit of preparation and planning, it turns out that road-tripping while breastfeeding is not only completely possible, but actually not too terrible to incorporate.
Our family has taken dozens and dozens of road trips while I’ve been nursing children, so definitely, definitely doable if you have the right tools.
Over our vacations, I’ve tried to come up with just the right set of road trip essentials for breastfeeding, and have learned that there are a few key items that make breastfeeding and pumping in the car so. much. easier.
Quick note. If you are exclusively breastfeeding and not pumping at all…your only real option while road tripping is to stop and feed your baby at scheduled times, just as you always would. But you knew that already. 😉 This list is geared toward Mamas who exclusively pump or do a mix of both pumping and nursing.
Road Trip Essentials for Breastfeeding Moms
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for details.
1. A manual breast pump
Ok: confession time. I only invested in a manual breastpump for the first time a few months ago, meaning I completed about 2 years of breastfeeding between my two girls before buying one. The day I bought it completely changed my road trip breast pumping life.
On previous road trips, I would bring my trusty Medela Pump-in-Style, assemble all of the parts, plug it into the car with a converter, pump for the 20-30 minutes that are required for those pumps (for me, at least), combine bottles of breastmilk, clean everything, and then sit with the pump bag crammed by my feet with my purse, because we rarely have room anywhere else in the car. I made it work (and you could, too), but there is a much simpler, much more road-trip-friendly approach.
A manual breast pump (I used this one from Medela and it works absolutely perfectly) is such a game-changer because:
- It’s way smaller and can fit in a purse, eliminating the need for an extra electric breast pump bag.
- It’s more efficient (or at least it was for me), and I ended up spending a lot less time pumping.
- You aren’t depended on any power source. When it’s batteries or electricity that you rely on, there’s a chance that your pump won’t have power at some point on your trip. This happened to me somewhere near El Paso, and we ended up having to stop the drive, wake my daughter up from a nap to feed her, and then press on. Not the end of the world, but it through off the nursing/pumping/feeding schedule we had gotten used to, and delayed our trip by about half an hour. With a hand pump, you’ll never have to worry about this type of thing coming up.
2. Breastmilk Storage Bags
Hands down, disposable plastic breastmilk storage bags are the easiest way to store extra breastmilk when you’re on the road.
You could bring the plastic storage bottles and lids, but they are super bulky, you’ll have to spend time guessing how many you’ll actually need, and it’s more stuff to wash.
Bring a handful of disposable bags and forget about it. (I used these bags from Lansinoh and the Up-and-Up brand storage bags from Target. A little cheaper than the ones from Medela, and they haven’t given me any trouble.)
3. Washing Supplies
Speaking of stuff that you’ll be washing, you’ll need to give those pump parts (and any bottle or cup that your babe is using) a good scrub after use.
The type of cleanings supplies you bring really depend on where you’re going and where you’ll be staying.
If you’re camping out in the middle of nowhere, dish soap and a sponge/dishcloth will be sufficient to get you through. (On our most recent road trip we used this dish sponge from Dr. Brown’s and this dish soap from The Honest Company, which I poured into a travel-sized bottle from Target. But just use whatever you regularly use to wash your baby’s stuff.)
If you’re staying in hotels that include a microwave, you can add a few Medela Steam Clean Bags in to sanitize everything at the end of the day.
4. A Reusable Water Bottle
Breastfeeding mamas need water—and lots of it.
Save yourself some cash by investing in a reusable water bottle.
One of the best decisions I made was to go a step further and purchase a reusable water bottle with a purifying filter build right into the bottle. Yep! It’s amazing for road tripping because you can fill it up in a restroom sink when you’re on the road, PLUS you can use it in the hotel room so you avoid paying for bottled water. Seriously a game changer!
We purchased this one from Brita for under $20 last month, and it has already saved us over $100 just by eliminating the need to buy bottles of water.
5. Small Cooler
If you’re already traveling with a cooler in your car—perfect! If not, something small is all you need while you’re out on the road.
We ended up using the cooler that came with my Pump-in-Style because we had it on hand (you can purchase it on it’s own here), but there are some cheaper options out there that would work just as well, like this cute little travel cooler from Skip Hop.
You don’t need to go crazy—just find something small enough to hold a day or so’s worth of breastmilk.
What are your must-have items when you’re road tripping + breastfeeding?