Jun 10 2010

Wrong method to transport FROZEN EBM?

Published by at 11:22 pm under All,Breastfeeding,Brfg: Tips/ Opinion,Brfg: Travel

I have to make a clarification in this post, to many mothers who read some of the articles here, but did not read ALL of them, and failed to bring back their precious frozen EBM.

Recently, I have received a few emails, from different mothers, sharing their failed experience of transporting their frozen expressed breast milk.

Coincidentally, they were all coming back from the same place – the East Malaysia, either Kuching or KK.

All of them, used cooler BAG to bring back their FROZEN ebm.

Now, I have to remind you that, I have never advocated such method. All the frozen ebm that I have ever transported, were stored in cooler BOX (as per the photo below).

cooler box, AI and ice packs

In addition to that, I have never ever transported frozen ebm in small cooler box. All the frozen ebm were carried in the LARGE cooler box. Only then, it is insulated well enough, and with proper wrapping and surrounded (all sides) by ice packs or frozen CO2 (dry ice), they could then sustain my 33 hours long journey from Chicago – Newark – Taipei – KL.

With cooler BAGS, I have only ever transported CHILLED ebm. That is because the insulation layer in cooler bags are too thin and not good enough to keep the milk frozen. Even with the chilled ebm, I had to surround the ebm with ice packs to keep them chilled.

For short distance from East Malaysia, use of cooler bag is good enough, but please just chill the ebm, and not freeze them.

I’m sorry if I have given wrong impression to mothers who sought advice here, and failed to bring back the precious milk. I feel sad too that the milk were down to drain!

I wish you success next time.


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37 responses on Wrong method to transport FROZEN EBM?

37 Responses to “Wrong method to transport FROZEN EBM?”

  1. sueon 14 Jun 2010 at 3:30 pm

    that’s remind me bout my exp last month. ahaha..btw it’s my fault, not u. n that is my 1st exp travel with frozen ebm for long journey as for me (almost 12hours since my check-out time from hotel till i reached home).

    b4 went to kuching i thought to bring the cooler box but it is BIG, u know. N i didnt know how was my journey n how much my ebm can i collect. nway, that is my precious experience that i will remember always n i will bear in my mind to bring COOLER BOX if i have to travel with FROZEN EBM next time.

    btw, my frozen yang dah cair tapi still ada frozen sikit2 tu i re-frozen it back n used n finished it within 1-2weeks. Thank GOD, my baby boy didnt sick or anything else… huhuhu…

  2. cindyon 17 Jun 2010 at 4:42 pm

    hi, im going to travel to beijing next week. i want to know whether am i allow to bring ice pack on board..cos i need to do my pumping inside the plane cos 6 hours flight..and do i allow to carry my ebm when i come back from beijing to kl without checking in..pls advise. thanks

  3. suzetteon 17 Jun 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Cindy: Ever since they introduced that no-liquid-policy, you cannot bringg back the ebm without checking in. I have always checked i n my ebm. Just make sure you seal them propoerly, and then put all chilled ebm into a larger ziploc bag and sealed, before putting into your cooler bag/box. Then, place all ice packs around the ebm. Place the small cooler bag/box into your luggage bag, together with the clothes. I’m not sure about you, but I travel light, and I only fill my cabin sized luggage back half with my clothes and stuff, and half for the ebm.

    If you have a lot, use the large cooler box, and bring along a musking tape. I do that, but only for frozen ebm. Seal the frozen ebm with musking tape many round, to avoid it accidentally opened.

    On your way there, you can bring ice packs onboard (as long as non-liquid). And you can pump in the flight. If you travel in business class, you can even store it in the fridge onboard (but if you are in econ, they won’t layan you).

    Sue: Good to hear that you have used them up and nothing happened. Hahahaha! Kudos!

  4. paulynon 08 Jul 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Suzette,
    Before I went to Italy last two months, I’ve been following your blog and made sure I got the essentials, the Cooler Box, enough Ice packs and lots of determination. When I arrived home having to travel almost 20 hours, I was so happy that by frozen EBM remained frozen! Thanks for the great tips!!!! I’m one happy mama!!

  5. suzetteon 08 Jul 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Paulyn, I am so so so happy for you too! When you are determined, you sure can do it!

  6. Amyon 26 Aug 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Suzette.. I was blog hopping and thankfully i have stumbled to your blog. Thank you so much on posting about this, i’ve been looking for the info all over the net to prepare myself as i’m going to travel a lot next year. Kudos to you..

  7. suzetteon 26 Aug 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Amy, glad it helps. I used to travel around twice a month, even when I was still exclusively breastfeeding. I have shared quite a lot of my past experience in this blog, so you have came to the right place. Just check out the ‘breastfeeding’ category on the right side bar and you should get all the information you need. :)

  8. Amyon 27 Aug 2010 at 5:09 pm

    may i know what kind of ice pack did you use? and i’ve found out about Techni Ice (reusable dry ice pack) so i think it should be ok.

  9. suzetteon 27 Aug 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Amy, I used Techni Ice too. :)

  10. Jialingon 19 Oct 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I’ll b traveling to Macau next month. I’m in the midst of cracking my head on how to transport my EBM back and it’s a relieve to know about your sharing! Very impressive!
    Thanks VM.

    Just 1 question, my trip will be 4D/3N, shall I just chill the EBM or freeze it? How do u freeze such a big volume of EBM in your long trip? B’cos I’m worry that the hotel’s room mini bar has no space for it.

  11. suzetteon 19 Oct 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Jaling, never freeze your EBM in hotel mini bar as it is never cold enough. When I freeze, I always send to the concierge. If it is 5 star hotel, they usually have guest freezer/fridge. If not, they can put in the ice-cream freezer for you. Only once when I traveled to Guangzhou, due to legislation, they cannot keep for me so I put in the office’s freezer. 4D/3N, how much do you anticipate to get? If you are still at the peak of your production, then you might want to freeze. The final batch usually won’t have enough time to be fully frozen, so it has to be chilled. You have to separate the frozen and chilled milk. And this is when the 2 boxes comes in. Is small cooler box to store your last batch of chilled milk, and the large cooler box for frozen milk. Place the small box inside the large, before you check in the whole thing. If you put them together, the chilled one will thaw the frozen ones, because of the difference in temperature. Never do that ya… All the best in your trip!

  12. Jialingon 19 Oct 2010 at 4:31 pm


    Thanks for your prompt reply and valuable advise.
    From your experience, how many pack of techni ice should I buy? or should I get the Coleman ice pack instead?
    I’m planning to buy a large Coleman box as suggested and about the small one, i’ll then use cooler bags, since I already have 2.

  13. suzetteon 20 Oct 2010 at 9:39 am

    Jialing: If you want to use it to line the large ice box, you will need at least 2 sheets. I would say Techni Ice is much better. You can cut into the size you want.

  14. pcon 11 Nov 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Suzette, thanks for sharing your tips on how to transport EBM via travelling.

    I have some doubts:
    1) The milk that we expressed in the plane, can we bring them out to another plane during transits or when arrived?
    Can we also bring the EBM that expressed in airport (long transit) on board again?
    I will have about 1-2 transits (flying to Germany from M’sia)
    Sorry if i sound dumb, i rarely fly such long distance, not familiar with the security checks and transits

    2) Can I bring techni-ice or ice-pack on board as hand carry?
    I read some TSA articles and some overseas forum, there were mums complaining that ice-gel packs are not allowed and they forced to throw the gel packs

    I just whether is techni-ice or ice-pack after thawed will consider as liquid?

  15. suzetteon 12 Nov 2010 at 10:32 am

    pc: These are very good questions, and I have answered so many in emails. Good to put them here too:
    1) It really depends on the airport you transit at, and the officers. You need to explain a bit and risk losing it, but chances are very high that they let you re-board with the expressed milk. Arriving is never a problem, unless you go to Australia/New Zealand –> they reject all diary products, even baby food, to enter their land.
    2) It depends on the destination you fly, and a gain on the officers as well. I have traveled with Techni-Ice and the hardcase blue ice box on-board before, but flew different destination. I think US and UK are stricter. To avoid disappointment, I would suggest that you don’t do that, but ask for ice cubes when you are in the air-craft. Prepare a zip loc bag to put the ice cubes in, use it as ice-packs. Check every hour, pour out the water and refill with new ice. I did that before, and it was perfectly good!

  16. pcon 26 Nov 2010 at 7:23 am

    thks for your answer, suzette.
    Currently I am hunting for cooler box, however I have issue trying to fit the box into my wheeled luggage.

    Can I know what size of cooler box & luggage u used for transportation?

    Very thank you for your sharing

  17. suzetteon 26 Nov 2010 at 4:06 pm

    pc: I used 5Qt cooler box/bag, fit it nicely into the cabin-size luggage bag. :)

  18. pcon 26 Nov 2010 at 5:05 pm

    suzette, for the large cooler box, you will direct check it in?
    I thought that you put it inside your luggage as well.. silly me

  19. suzetteon 27 Nov 2010 at 1:59 am

    Yes, for the large cooler box, i think it was 210Qt or around that. It is directly checked in. From another reader’s recent experience (read her comment here: http://www.thesuzette.com/2008/07/how-to-bring-home-ebm-from-traveling/), some airline restrict to only 1 check in luggage per passenger, so you need to find out ahead of time to avoid any issues. :)

  20. Alice Kuon 10 Apr 2011 at 1:16 am

    hi sue, thanks for sharing this very useful idea to the breastfeed mothers~~~

    i m going back to miri, sarawak very soon..i wish to transport my ebm from miri to kl, and from kl to kuantan…normally i will stay overnight in kl and coming back to kuantan on the second day…so what should i do?

    another question is that for the frozen ebm, once we transported back home, we need to put into the freezer as soon as possible, right? may i know the ebm can last for how long? still 3 months? or less than 3 months?

    an outside topic question: my office doesnt have a refrigerator…so after i expressed my milk, i will put them in the cooler bag…after i reach home, i have to put the ebm into the refrigerator or the freezer? i m quite confused….


  21. Alice Kuon 10 Apr 2011 at 1:29 am

    one more question is that can i mix the breastmilk that i express on the same day but not the same time together? for eg: 10:30am got 2oz, 1:30pm got another 2oz, 4:30pm got another 2oz…so can i mix all the breastmilk in one bottle/storage bag?

  22. suzetteon 12 Apr 2011 at 8:44 am

    Alice: Do you have access to a fridge in KL before going to Kuantan? How long do you expect the journey would be, from the point you leave Miri point till you reach Kuantan house? Not sure if you can get the real dry-CO2 or not, if you can get at Miri and then top up at KL, then it might last you the whole journey even without a fridge. CO2 is very powerful in FREEZING your ebm.

    And yes, you need to transport to freezer asap. If frozen can last 6 months. If you have a chest freezer, it can last 12 months.

    If you keep your ebm in cooler back, when reach home you can put in chiller or freezer – doesn’t matter. Most important factor is – when do you intend to use it? If used in 7 days, then chilled. If for longer storage – freezer.

    It is not advicable to mix them, according to the expert. But I sometimes have to do that due to situations like yours. I would do that if it is within the same day express lah. It is not advocated by the experts though. Do this at your own risk. :)

  23. Aznaon 10 Oct 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Hi! I will going to nz for 9 day and still ebm. So my flight in the morning. So im thinking to pump it in flight. But when i read about your comment nz reject dairy product, i worried so pls advice.

  24. jennyon 03 Oct 2012 at 2:19 pm

    dear suzette, im flying to beijing next week. i read the earlier post. can i carry the ebm from beijing to kl in hand luggage and dont check in? can i use a normal cooler bag for the six hour flight for chilled ebm?

  25. suzetteon 03 Oct 2012 at 3:05 pm

    jenny: I don’t think you can carry the liquid ebm onboard any more. Check it in – that’s the only way now with the liquid ban policy implemented since many years ago. As for your second question, for BJ flight, depending on the amount you yield (you can calculate based on amount usually extracted by number of days) – if not too much, try using a 5QT cooler box and line the box with Techni ice. Then stuck that box into your cabin size luggage bag, which will occupy less than half of the space. Then check in that luggage bag. If you have a cooler bag, use that in the cabin – for storage of ebm that you extract onboard the flight.

    I have flew with chilled ebm in cooler bag checked in within luggage bag too, but not for this BJ trip – the airport usually jam packed, takes too long of waiting, so total time is usually longer than the actual flight itself. I think 8 hours from point-to-point, or even longer depending on traffic and your other activities prior to the airport.

  26. nabillaon 01 Nov 2012 at 5:56 pm

    hye suzette…i am so glad theres someone like u who is willing to share their experiences…i am a new mother, working in tawau and currently in confinement at ipoh..so i hve been pumping for last 1month and is planning to bring all my frozen ebm about 75 packs until today filled with at least 3 oz of ebm in each pack….i m wondering how best to bring it back to tawau without destroying it cez banyak jugak tu….
    all this ebm must masuk kargo or must be hand carried? and are we allowed to use dry ice in our kargo? i m flying with airasia..
    thanx dear for sharing…

  27. suzetteon 02 Nov 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Nabilla, congratulations for the success of breastfeeding your baby. For airasia, I think it is not so strict. Just ensure your dry ice is not too big. Some airline restrict the dry ice not more than 500g, which is sufficient for this short journey. My 33 hours journey used 1kg dry ice, so this one is good for you.

    You must check-in your frozen ebm for 2 reasons: they are just too much and too heavy to be carried onboard; and along with the dry ice they are not allowed in passenger side. Just buy a large enough cooler box (preferably with wheel so you don’t have to lift up the heavy box), and buy a 300-500g dry ice (which is more than enough). Ask the seller to break the dry ice into 2-3 blocks, so you can scatter them. Put them at the top instead of bottom, coz cold air moves down – it will keep the rest frozen.

    Get the fragile sticker when you check in. Just tell the counter that what you have is frozen breast milk, don’t elaborate much. They might ask whether it leaks or not, which I’m very sure it won’t. For safety to prevent leakage, you can put a few packs into one large ziplock bag — so it gives double protection. in case there are leakage, you can still use the leaked out milk. :)

    All the best!!

  28. ummion 08 Nov 2012 at 12:42 pm

    hye suzette.

    stumbled upon ur blog on transporting ebm is the best thing that happened to me today. i’m currently in confinement for past one month plus n like nabila, i’m facing similar problem; only that my stock is much larger n heavier. by the time i’m going back to tawau early next monthy stock would reach almost 130 – 140 fully-filled 12oz storage bags…how many can the large coleman fit? coz i need to buy them n estimate which weight of luggage do i hv to pre-purchased from airasia.

    my first daughter; she was breastfed only for almost 5 months *regret* when i want to transport my ebm to tawau, the airasia officer wont let the stock be checked in as it will leak onto other bags. i packed them in styrofoam box n triple sealed it so im sure it wont leak in any way…but since hey’re not letting it in…so i had to carry it as hand carry. my stock at that time was only 300+oz in plastic containers (bekas dadih) n it wasnt heavy. it stayed frozen in ordinary canvas bag with some ice blocks when i reached home. i dont want the same to happen to my large pile of stock…

  29. suzetteon 08 Nov 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Congratulations Ummi for the success in breastfeeding, and the bundle of joy! :)
    I’m sorry I lost the record I had last time. I used to have it in my Palm, but it has kaput so long that I could never access to the data. :(
    I know some people tried to transport things in styrofoam box, and rejected by the airline. You will need a proper cooler box and you will need to tell the counter that inside you have no ice cubes, only dry-ice as in ‘ice bricks/packs’. I have been often asked this question about the ice cubes, guess they worried it will wet other luggages.

    The size of cooler box I used is about 48QT. I am guessing it might fill maybe 80 packs of your ebm, but honestly I am just guessing, I have no solid idea. So sorry that I can’t help much…

  30. Mizaon 26 Jun 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Suzette,

    I have few questions to ask if you don’t mind. I need to travel to KK for business trip next week for 3D 2N and i’m bringing my son also my mom together with me. So i plan to let my mom babysit my son while i’m out to office there. My son rejected frozen ebm so i have to bring about 40oz chilled ebm in 10 bottle storage. So my question are, can i hand carry all 10 bottles+icepacks in coleman 9QT cooler box onboard? Or i need to check in together with my luggage? Do i have to filled any forms or i just need to inform the MAS staff about it?

    Thanks :)

  31. suzetteon 21 Aug 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I’m sorry I missed your comment earlier. I don’t think you can bring them inboard, but then domestic traveling can be quite relaxed. There is no form to fill. I would just check them in, but before that double pack them in a larger ziplock bag.
    Do share with us your experience, if you don’t mind. :)

  32. azreenon 02 Oct 2014 at 11:37 am

    Hi Suzette,
    Glad I stumbled into ur blog. Im planning to move from Miri to Penang soon and would need to use dry ice to transport my frozen EBM. Was wondering where could i purchase the dry ice here in Miri?

  33. Aishaon 06 Jun 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Is it sufficient if i just use techni ice (no dry ice) to carry my frozen ebm in cooler box? my journey will take around 12-13 hours.

  34. suzetteon 13 Jul 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Depends on the total hours on road. Dry ice is way more powerful than the Techni ice. In my case, the frozen ebm had to be out of freezer for 37+ hours. Dry ice was the only way.

  35. San Sanon 31 Jul 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Suzette,

    Great tips you share. I’m a first-time mummy here. What about transporting my frozen breastmilk (fbm) to babysitter’s house? Distance is about 15mins from my house. This is because I have stocked up some fbm in my freezer and would like to pass to my babysitter who will be starting to take care my son on Monday. Don’t think cooler bag will keep my fbm in FULL frozen condition even with such a short distance. Am I right? But I wouldn’t want to use big cooler box like what you have shown in your above article. What about ‘fridge-to-go’ bag? Any advice you can share with me?

  36. Sheah Neeon 20 Nov 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Suzette,

    Finally i’d found an expert in this subject matter.
    I’ll be travelling to London soon, direct flight by MAS, for 15 days without my baby. I am a low supply mom and I wish to bring back my precious milk for my 14-month old baby. I will have 12-14 oz a day, which mean will have 28 bags fbm in total.

    Is it preferable to store my fbm in cooler box instead of styrofoam box? Should i buy it here in KL or in London? and do you have any idea where to get dry ice in London? I try to google but most of them have minimum order quantity which is 10kg and it is way too much for me.

    Thanks :)

  37. PeggyPowon 01 Jul 2016 at 3:48 pm

    hi, i am going from KL to KK for a short trip with my baby. I am a exclusively pumping mum. i would like to bring a few (about 6) of my chilled ebm in bottles. And i wil need to pump in planes too. is it ok if i hand carry a cooler box with my chilled ebm (in bottles) to the planes? will i be allow to? anything that i shld be aware of? thank you in advance.

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