luggage piled with a breastpump

Best Travel Breast Pumps for Moms on the Go (Plus All the Accessories You Need!)

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Breast pumps… definitely the best way to spend 20 minutes, amirite?

If you are a nursing mom getting ready to travel without your baby for the first time, you might be wondering just how you’re going to manage this whole pumping thing. Do you have the best breast pump for travel? Have you thought of all the accessories you’ll need?

Or maybe you’re pregnant and know that you will need to travel without the baby sometimes, and you want to make sure you prepare by buying the best travel breast pump.

Whatever your situation, I’ve gathered my favorite recommendations based on my personal experience and a whole lot of research! I hope you find information that is helpful, and of course let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Best portable breast pump for travel

Let’s start with the big ticket item: which pump should you choose?

If you already have a pump that you’re happy with, I am a big believer in making it work with what you’ve got. But if you’re in the market, here are some great options to consider!

Willow Pump

This pump is at the top of my list because I have a major crush on it. My pumping days are done now (though we still nurse), but the convenience of this pump almost makes me want to start pumping again on the regular. Almost.

What makes this one of the best breast pumps for travel? It’s super portable, doesn’t require you to carry around a giant bag and be stuck next to an outlet, and it’s quiet. With the Willow Pump, you can pump anywhere and anytime, so you don’t have to worry about stopping whatever you’re up to so that you can find a place to pump. It’s truly the future of pumping.

I love that you can pump directly into the storage bags, or into the reusable milk container if you’d rather transfer to a larger container to transport the milk home. It makes it so easy.

I also love that there are only two parts to clean, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning and sanitizing (and not losing!) all the pump parts while you’re traveling. Huge win!

If I were in the market these days, this is hands-down (or up… or on your laptop… or holding your baby… the point is it’s hands-free!) the pump that I would buy. Especially if I were planning to do any travel while pumping.

Note that Willow has recently released the Willow Go, for $150 less. This version has more parts to clean/store, a less helpful app, and lack the 360 degree latch and leak-proof bags. However, the containers it does come with are larger, so this is actually a great option to consider and weigh the pros and cons for your situation.

Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced

Back down to reality – not everyone wants to spend the kind of cash that the Willow costs on a breast pump. Maybe you don’t pump often – maybe only for baby-free travel! If you’re looking for something a little more reasonably-priced, but that will still do a great job, and you have the room in your suitcase, I recommend the Medela.

It seems like everyone has this pump. I have this pump. I’ve been very happy with this pump – it’s an absolute workhorse. I got spoiled my first few months by renting a hospital-grade breast pump, but it honestly wasn’t that much of a difference when I switched to the Medela. This is a good, all-around pump.

The reason that I recommend it for traveling moms (besides that it’s the pump that I’ve traveled with and that worked out just fine) is that it has smart accessories. The pump is built into a tote bag, so you don’t look like you’re carrying around a breast pump and you can store all the extra pieces in there so they don’t get lost. It has a portable battery pack in case you lose power, and this version even comes with the international AC adapter.

Tip: In the US, our outlets are 110-120V. Most countries around the world use 220-240V, which will fry your pump if you have a standard US AC adapter! Be sure to check your adapter before you go, and get a dual voltage adapter if needed. This is Medela’s adapter, but if you have a different pump, check your manufacturer.

I don’t love all the parts that you need to wash each time you pump, and I also don’t love the amount of suitcase space that is required to transport this thing. But it gets the job done as long as you can get back to the hotel to pump when you need to.

And 3+ years into my nursing journey, this pump has never let me down.

The main competitor for the Pump in Style is the Spectra, which lots of mamas absolutely love. I didn’t include it here because it’s less portable (you’ll need to buy a separate tote bag to keep all your supplies together), and there are lots of complaints about their customer service, which tends to turn me off a product.

That being said, it is a popular and well-loved pump. For more information, check out this comparison of the Spectra S1 vs S2.

Medela Swing

If you like the Medela for the reliability of a well-known brand and the effectiveness of their two-phase expression technology, but don’t want to drag the tote bag along with you (and you’d like to pay half the price), consider the compact Medela Swing.

Unlike the Pump in Style, the Swing is super portable. It also has the option to run on AA batteries, so plan to bring those for just in case you can’t plug in.

This is a single pump, so you’ll be doubling the time that you spend attached to the outlet. The motor is compact and lightweight, which is great for transporting, but some moms complain that it is not as powerful as the Pump in Style. But if you don’t regularly pump and are buying one just for travels, this would be a great option.


The Elvie is a competitor to the Willow in the travel pumps category. It’s similar in a lot of ways, but more expensive and gets worse reviews. It has more parts to clean and some women complain about the suction being too weak.

However, the Elvie does have a few advantages that might make it worth checking into. For one, the Willow claims to be “quiet”, while the Elvie claims to be “silent”. From the reviews that I’ve read, if you want to actually have a conversation with someone without them knowing that you’re pumping, go for the Elvie.

If the cost of the Willow (or Elvie) is what’s holding you back, you can actually buy a single Elvie – the Willow only comes as a double. If you’re not planning to use this as your primary pump and want to save the money, this might be a great option. It’s hands-free anyway, so it’s not that terrible to double the time that you’re pumping.

Or maybe, like me, you only produce milk on one side. It’s rare, but I love that there’s an option for us!

Best manual breast pumps for travel

Whatever you do, do not forget to bring a manual pump!

You never know when you’re going to need a manual pump. Stranded on the plane for hours on the runway? Power outage at the hotel? On a tour bus for the day? Your pump decides that your big trip is just the right moment for the motor to die? There are tons of scenarios that might require a manual pump.

While I wouldn’t want to rely on a manual pump for an entire trip if I was exclusively pumping, I would absolutely bring one and keep it with me (along with a small cooler) throughout the trip. My experience with travel is that unexpected things happen, and I would like to be prepared in case I need to pump!

Of course, if you are traveling for, say, a work conference where you won’t be leaving the hotel and convention center, you might not need to take it with you everywhere you go. But I would still recommend you have it for a back up!

Medela Harmony

This trusty little pump has been all over the world with me. Long after I’ve stopped pumping at home, I still bring the Harmony on every trip with the baby (and will continue to as long as I breastfeed). You just never know when you’re going to unexpectedly need to pump while traveling, even when the baby is with you.

It’s not as efficient or powerful as an electric pump – not by a long shot. Sometimes I really struggle to let down with this pump.

But it gets the job done, travels fairly compactly, and is easy on the wallet. If I’m not expecting to use the pump at all, this is what I bring. When I traveled without the baby and brought the electric pump, this is what I brought as a backup and was happy I didn’t need.


I’ve always loved the simplicity of the Haakaa. You just squeeze it and stick it on, and the physics of suction does the rest. I know tons of moms use this to “catch” any let-down on the side that baby is not nursing on, so that beautiful milk doesn’t go to waste (and the suction encourages a small let-down, so it builds supply as well).

While I love my Medela Harmony, I actually think the Haakaa might be the best manual breast pump for travel, because of its size.

It makes a great back-up pump. It’s tiny, easy to sanitize (just pop the whole thing in boiling water), and it doesn’t make any weird noises. It doesn’t have any bells or whistles, but I kind of love that.

Amazon has a couple different size options, from 3 – 5.4 oz, and some come with silicone caps which would be nice for transporting milk until you get back to the hotel, so be sure to look at all the options.

Tip: Breastmilk is not subject to the TSA 3.4oz liquids rule. You can bring breastmilk on board with you in any reasonable quantity, regardless of whether you are traveling with a baby or not. There’s no definition anywhere for what a reasonable quantity is, but I have yet to hear of anyone being refused. Breastmilk is considered a medically-necessary item by TSA. Just declare it and take it out as you go through security.

Your breastmilk will either be x-rayed, or they will swab the outside of the container to test for explosives. There is no evidence that x-rays are harmful to milk, but you can request that they not x-ray the milk. They may have you take out a tiny amount of milk to test. If they try to stick a test strip directly into your container of milk, stop them! That is against TSA protocol and compromises your milk.

How are you going to store and transport the milk?

That depends on how long you’re traveling, how much you will likely pump, and how you’re getting the milk home.

You ideally do not want to freeze your milk while you are traveling. If it defrosts on the journey, it cannot be re-frozen. It will need to be used right away or tossed.

That means that if you’re traveling for more than a week or so, you might want to consider shipping your milk home. Here is a company that specializes in shipping milk, but you can also overnight it through USPS. I have no experience with either of these options, but know moms who have done this without any trouble.

Get a room with a fridge.

The first time I traveled without my baby was for a 2-night getaway to Vegas. We called the hotel ahead of time to make sure that we got a room with a fridge, and I did the math and knew that I could fit everything I would pump into my 32 oz. Nalgene bottle.

Tip: Its fine to combine milk from different pumping sessions, but remember to never add warm milk into milk that is already cold. Let the new milk fully cool before combining.

So I kept it in the fridge, and brought a cooler-style lunch bag to get it home through the airport. We didn’t have a freezer in our room, so our ice pack was barely better than room temp. We combated this by filling the lunch bag with hotel ice before we left for the airport, and by the time we had to dump it at airport security, the ice pack was frozen and able to do its job. Perfect!


While I used a Nalgene and a cooler bag, a smarter option would be to use a Thermos. This bad boy holds 40oz and keeps cold liquids cold for 24 hours. If 40oz will get you through your trip, this is a perfect choice. You could even bring multiples if you like this option better than a cooler. Just make sure it will fit in your hotel fridge. If there’s a risk it won’t, consider still bringing a Thermos just for the flight, and smaller containers for the fridge.

I would recommend cooling your milk fully before putting it in the Thermos. Not only do you not want to add warm milk to previously cooled milk, but if the Thermos is closed inside the fridge, it will take longer for the milk to reach the temperature of the fridge, potentially keeping it warm for too long.

Freezer bags

Another option is to use freezer bags, even if you’re not going to freeze your milk until you get home. Freezer bags are easy to store in a small hotel fridge, easy to pack into any shape of cooler, and then when you get home they transfer straight to the freezer.


Unless you’re using the Thermos, you’re going to need a cooler. I prefer to use a soft-sided cooler, and there are gazillions of great options out there, ranging from 10 bucks to hundreds, like that lovely Yeti pictured above.

Breast milk will stay cold enough in a standard cooler with an ice pack for up to 24 hours. Double check the cooler that you’re considering buying, though – not all lunch box-style coolers are that well-insulated.

Ice packs

Don’t forget the ice packs. TSA rules state that you cannot bring partially melted or “slushy” ice packs through security unless they are for medically necessary items, including breast milk. They will be subject to additional screening if they are slushy (likely the same explosives testing that your milk will get), but you don’t need to worry about them getting confiscated.

Other accessories for moms traveling with a breast pump

Now that you’ve got your travel breast pump and transport all sorted out, let’s talk accessories. I always prefer to pack light – even when traveling with my babies – but there are a few other things that would make pumping while traveling easier.

Breast pads

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, I’m betting the wet t-shirt contest look is probably not what you’re going for. Don’t forget your breast pads!

Quick clean breast pump wipes

Bring along a pack of these Medela wipes for hygienically wiping down pump parts and bottles in case you need to pump in less-than-sanitary conditions (ahem *airplane* ahem).

International power adapter

If you’re traveling outside of the US, you may need a power adapter. Many countries have different plug styles, and they will not be compatible with your pump. If you’re staying in a major hotel chain, they will likely have adapters available, but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own anyway.

Please note that this adapter does not convert the voltage, so you will still need a dual voltage AC adapter to avoid frying your pump! (If you missed it, that was the info in the first gray tip box above.)

Alcohol test strips

If you’re safe to drive, you’re safe to breastfeed (or pump). If I’m honest, I have never used these strips – any time I’ve doubted if I was safe to breastfeed, I just waited it out. Alcohol leaves breastmilk at the same rate it leaves your blood – so if you become okay to drive, you become okay to nurse.

I am a big proponent of never pumping and dumping unless absolutely necessary.

That being said, lots of people drink more than usual on vacation. Especially when they’re away from their baby and suddenly don’t have that responsibility. If you want the peace of mind, get the strips!


If you don’t normally exclusively pump, you probably don’t know exactly how the pump is going to treat you. EP’ing is a different beast from breastfeeding with occasional pumping. And if you’re bringing a new pump, you really don’t know how your nipples are going to feel.

This little 1.4oz tube will take up no space and is fine to go through TSA in your carry-on. You probably won’t need it, but if you do – it might not be that easy to find.

It seems like a whole lot to manage, but once you get the hang of things, traveling with a breast pump isn’t that bad. (I can’t make the same promise about the emotional challenges of traveling without your baby.) At least you can make sure you have the best travel pump for your situation. I wish you the best of luck as you look at all the options for portable breast pumps for traveling moms, and happy travels!

to pin for later:

Originally published December 2019. Updated May 2022.

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13 thoughts on “Best Travel Breast Pumps for Moms on the Go (Plus All the Accessories You Need!)”

  1. I always wondered how to store your milk while traveling. I feel like that is the most challenging part! I have a friend who was pumping while we did a road trip and her machine was very loud and it seemed like such a pain. The Willow Pump sounds like it would be a serious upgrade to the one I saw her using.

    • Yes – storing your milk is such a big task to think about! And I feel for your friend – most pumps sound pretty obnoxious. That’s tough to do on a road trip!

  2. I’m a big advocate for breastfeeding if mom and baby can manage. After all, figuring it out for the first time with twins means I *know* it’s way harder than it looks. The one lesson I learned the hard way was traveling on a business trip with my electric pump only to experience a power outage at the hotel. I never traveled without a hand pump again (and, of course, never needed it.) Based on these options, it’s good to see that technology has come a long way in the 10+ years since I last had a wee one to feed!

    • Ugghhh I feel for you! Not having the power for your pump when you need it would be so stressful. And of course, once you have the hand pump, you’re never going to need it! 😀

  3. Many people make excuses when they have a child to avoid traveling, and one of those excuses is breastfeeding and navigating this task during a trip. So nice to see all this information on how to breastfeed while traveling! Anything can be done with the right tools, information, and motivation 🙂

    • There are sooo many reasons people could find to avoid traveling with kids – but if you truly love to travel, you will find a way! Happy to help people see that there is always a way!

  4. While my breast feeding days are way behind me, I think this is a great go-to article for everything travelling Mums need to know for pumping on the go. The international power adapter would be a ‘Must Have’ I reckon. Thanks for putting in all of the research to help other Mums who probably have loads of questions on the topic.

  5. I am now 26 years mother. Honestly, at the time, we did not take part of the things you envision. Which does not mean that you could not use them. I’m just amazed what changes in 25 years.

  6. I remember the “pumping times”. I used Medela both manual and electric one. Having twins i had to pump a lot. Anyway, its over now but I would always recommend to every young mother to get good breast pump

  7. I loved this post as many of my friends who are newbie moms asks me about these kind of breast pumps. I have grown up children and when I was feeding, I was not having awareness for these pumps but they really look very convenient. I am sharing this post with my friends who would love so many varieties of breast pumps are existing.


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