7 Ways Breastfeeding Can Simplify Your Travel

You may well argue that breastfeeding and travelling are not directly connected. But in my case breastfeeding was something that made travelling with my son so much easier. That is why I decided to state my case here. You may agree or disagree and you are very welcome to tell me that in the comments. But what I would value most is that if my article would answer some questions for those who have doubts about travelling with breastfed babies and encourage them to pursue the lifestyle they want.

My experience of breastfeeding on travelling

In this article I will refer to the baby as β€œhe”, not because I am a girl-hater, but because when I look for examples, I think about my son.

I have already mentioned before that my son was breastfed exclusively until he was 6 months. I kept breastfeeding him on demand until he was 1.5 years old. To answer your question: that was the age when his demands stopped. I was actually planning to do it longer, because it was really convenient. But oh well, there is this annoying issue of the baby not following my wishes exactly, but exercising a will of his own. I am sure you know what I am talking about.

We start with the assumption that you are not against breastfeeding as such, and just consider, whether it is a good idea to chose this way of feeding your baby on your travels. Also, I have to say at once that my experience is based on North America and Europe. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on the rest of the world.

Breastfeeding in Budapest
Peace, love and breastfeeding in Budapest

The controversy of breastfeeding

Just as with breastfeeding in your daily life, breastfeeding while travelling can be a sensitive subject. It is a sensitive subject, because:

  • Breastfeeding can be painful. It actually almost guaranteed to be painful in the beginning, but with no major issues and problems, the pain will stop after the first couple of weeks. If it doesn’t, look for help. There are consultants out there, who can help you.
  • You can feel pressure from your circles or broader public to breastfeed, when you do not want it, or vice versa, to stop breastfeeding, when you want to continue longer.
  • It can be time-craving. For example, your baby would nurse for very long stretches of time, or very often.
  • You might catch a cold, if you nurse in a cold location.

However, breastfeeding is NOT a sensitive subject, because someone will see your breasts. They will not, because you wear nursing (or sensible) clothes while doing it and are not shoving your breast in these people’s faces. So let us not even discuss this issue of people being unhappy of you nursing in public. We will just ignore those sad boob-haters, who for some reason decided they have a say in this. They do not. They might just as well discuss the lack of clothes in MTV music videos.

Among the olive trees
Among the olive trees. If anyone thinks that I am too naked in this photo, it is definitely not my problem. πŸ˜‰

7 ways breastfeeding can make your travel easier

1. It is a great way to soothe your baby

And travelling is a stress, although a positive one. Being in different surroundings, facing new landscapes, smells, climate can be stressful (or, as we call it, exciting) for both adults and babies. Having those moments of feeding with you – the most familiar object in the world – can be the best way for the baby to relax.

2. It can help the baby heal

If you baby catches a cold or other mild sickness, your milk might make him feel better quicker. There are studies proving that your milk changes its qualities when your baby is sick to provide him with the elements he needs most at this moment. Of course this is not to say that you should ditch doctors and medicines. It is just a great addition to help your baby heal quicker, if it happened on the trip.

3. Your milk is the same in every country you go to

Meaning you will spare the stress of realising they do not have your usual formula in let’s say Montenegro. And in general you will save the trouble of looking through the shops to find a particular brand.

4. It is cheap

If you count the money you have saved during the first 6 months of baby’s life, it would already cover some kind of trip.

5. It does not require any equipment

Now, if you are feeding your baby on a schedule, then at least you can plan your time accordingly. If however you chose to feed on demand, then breastfeeding can be much easier during your travels. You can do it practically whenever wherever. The milk will be just the right temperature and consistency without you having to prepare the bottle, formula and warm water.

6. It is quick

This one actually flows naturally from the one above. Just keep in mind that the actual eating time might be longer than with the formula, depending on the baby. So if your baby tends to hang on the breast for hours, than just strike this one out from your list.

7. Less packing

You do not need to calculate, how much formula you will need for the trip, and then fill your luggage with bottles, sterilizers, heating equipment, etc.

Breastfeeding in a car park
Breastfeeding in a car park. Zsolt took this photo and had to jump in the car and close the doors immediately, because we were “attacked” by at least 10 goats, who wanted to steel our oranges. Luckily, not the milk!

The cons of breastfeeding while travelling

  • If your baby has a fussy stomach or some allergies, you will probably not be able to taste all this fun exotic food you would eat otherwise.
  • Booze in bulk is off-limits. Small amount of wine and/or beer might be possible, depending on the culture you are from and your views on the subject.
  • If you feed the baby on demand, sometimes he would demand the milk at a time when you really are in the middle of something interesting (like, the Louvre) and really not in the mood to be interrupted. But yeah, no one can substitute you in this, even if you are travelling with your partner, two sets of grandparents and a babysitter.
    Breastfeeding in Elafonisi
    Breastfeeding in Elafonisi, Crete. This was actually one of those times, when I really didn’t want to be interrupted, swimming in the crystal clear warm and shallow water at the little paradise of Elafonisi beach.

Some tips for making your breastfeeding while travelling easier

  • A nursing scarf or any other type of scarf can be handy. No, not to cover you from the public, we have discussed that already. For me it was very useful, when I had to nurse in a very sunny or windy location, to protect the baby from the sun or the wind and make him more comfortable while eating.
  • Make sure your clothes are comfortable for nursing in a specific location. For example, I found it uncomfortable to have skin to skin contact in hot countries, because the nursing becomes a sweaty business. In that case better to have something covering your stomach as well (as opposed to a type of blouse you just lift and put the baby underneath).
  • Take something to sit on, if you are planning to be in the nature. If you happen to just sit on the ground for nursing, it can be wet/dirty/full of small stones.
aspri limni crete
Aspri Limni lagoon in Crete. In many places in Crete… Well, in many places in general it is difficult to find shade. So a scarf comes very handy!

And please, let’s remember…

…that breastfeeding is first and foremost about food and nutrition and secondly about togetherness. However, surprisingly as it may sound, in many countries the room for this activity is usually either placed within the toilet or next to the toilet. But you do not eat in the toilet, nor do you go there to socialise. So please do not make your baby eat and socialise there either. It is gross. Eat and breastfeed in places, which are nice and cozy, like parks, restaurants and living rooms.

28 thoughts on “7 Ways Breastfeeding Can Simplify Your Travel

  1. Maya L. says:

    Nice post, Ana!

    Expanding on number 3, bm is a great way to make sure your baby is eating and drinking enough even after he has started on solids. Sometimes we would eat out in places that didn’t offer anything that our little one cared to touch in his fussiest phase just before he turned 1. Yet I didn’t have to worry too much about it as I could supplement with bm!

    Also one of the greatest benefits for us has been being able to put him to sleep on planes without walking up and down the aisle or other some such. I did it this summer with my then almost two-year-old still even though I rarely nowadays breastfeed in public otherwise.

  2. Sara Essop -In Africa and Beyond says:

    Valid points that I can identify with. I went travelling with my son when he was 5 months old and breastfeeding him was so much easier than having to make bottles.

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I’m glad it sounds similar to your experience. I also was very surprised by people, who told me bottle is easier. They probably meant leaving the baby at home. πŸ™‚

  3. TravellingDany says:

    I don’t have children but I know where you come from when you say it makes travel easier. To be honest I hadn’t thought of it calming the baby but mostly about packing less stuff and preparing food more quickly!

  4. scriptingspaces says:

    Hey, I’m not a mother yet but I think this post is really amazing. People generally stay off this topic or not really think about it but it is really useful for new mothers who have no idea how this works! Definitely will take note of your tips for when I become a mommy next time! πŸ™‚

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I’m so glad you found it useful! And yes, people often ignore this topic or over-complicate it. True, sometimes breastfeeding can be difficult, but not always.

  5. roff555 says:

    I can easily see how breastfeeding would be the easier option during travel for any new mother – as you say, there is just less stuff to carry around and it is much easier to feed on demand. Let alone any concerns about unclean water. I don’t have kids and don’t plan to, but thanks anyway for sharing!

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I’m glad you found it interesting. I didn’t think too much about the unclean water, but you are sooo right on this!

  6. Anna @ shenANNAgans says:

    I’m not a Mummy yet but I’ve always felt I would breast feed if I could, many of my friends have traveled while breastfeeding and say much the same thing as you have written here. I love that you’ve stated breast milk is the same in every country….. so true.

  7. Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, it’s actually really interesting to hear your insights, on the pros and cons. I think I would be all for breastfeeding during travel, as I do think it would make it so much easier – I think I would just put in the research to the culture and customs of the country I’m visiting to make sure I don’t offend when I’m there, or else aim for a more private setting πŸ™‚

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      That is a good point you are making on the research. I actually only spoke about the Western world, but even here you find so many people, who somehow get offended by seeing a glimpse of you breastfeeding in the corner of the restaurant. πŸ™‚

  8. Cory says:

    Well in all honesty I am not a mum, but I can see why this is an important article for couples wishing to become parents and continue to travel. I often wondered how things work and nothing better than to learn from an experienced travelling mum πŸ˜€

  9. Cai Dominguez says:

    Wow! You’re amazing! Sometimes, I find it hard to move around and travel alone. But here you are traveling with your baby and being the best for her, breastfeeding. etc. I admire you! πŸ˜‰

Don't be shy, write what you think!