Will you be traveling from Ramstein, Germany to the US using the Rotator? Do you need step-by-step instructions on how to PCS with hundreds of ounces of breastmilk without losing a precious drop? If so, here is a comprehensive blog post detailing how to be successful, from an AD mom who wishes to remain anonymous. A huge THANKS to her for putting this together and sharing with the readers of BFinCB! If you are looking for basic information on shipping or traveling with your breastmilk within the US due to school or PCSing, take a look at the Shipping Milk FAQ.
Ladies, you absolutely can get your breastmilk stash from Ramstein to the USA. I know others have done this, but I personally could not find a comprehensive post on how to take my milk from Ramstein to the USA using the rotator so I hope this helps someone else out. I successfully transported just over 5 gallons of breastmilk from Ramstein to Maxwell AFB, AL (34 hours freezer to freezer). I had about another gallon and a half or so which I donated instead of taking two coolers, but if you had even more milk, you could check two coolers as well. Here is how I did it…
1. Purchase the EmmChill SF17A Insulated Shipping Cooler, 17″ x 17″ x 17″ from Amazon.com. Remove cooler from box, seal the sides with duck tape, put back in box. Label with “FROZEN HUMAN MILK” and your name.
2. Make “milk packs”: 4 6oz bags or 6 4oz (or less) bags into a brown lunch bag (can also use newspaper, but the brown bags make it super easy), then put that into another brown lunch bag so both ends are closed. Breastfeeding in Combat Boots recommends putting these into gallon ziplock bags, but you can transport waaaay more milk if you don’t use them. I had no issues.
3. Buy dry ice the night before your rotator leaves… “Kohelnsaure & Trockeneis” in Krottelbach was AMAZING. They speak English, sell pellets (melts slower than slabs and easier to pack), and it’s only 2 euro per kilo. I told them I needed 2.5 kilos (5lbs) to remain in 24 hours and they sold me what I needed to make that happen. Bring your cooler box with you. +49 (0) 6386 404 270.
4. Call the PAX terminal and tell them you plan to bring BM on dry ice with you on the rotator (authorized up to 5lbs dry ice per checked bag, assuming good ventilation of your cooler/box). They will let you check it in up to 24 hours prior with all your other luggage and then take the box back with you. Then call the day of the rotator to find out the latest you can drop it off. The pax terminal was AMAZING about this. They basically treated my BM box like the weapons or the pets… you check them in early and then bring them back right before you go through security.
5. Leave milk packs in TLF freezer (full-size American freezer) as long as possible. When ready to pack-up, pack milk packs on top of dry ice (many say the dry ice should go on top b/c cold air falls, which is true, but I left the dry ice on the bottom and it was fine). Fill in any gaps with newspaper. Tape shut.
6. When you get to BWI, your box should arrive with out-sized baggage… i.e. strollers and such.
7. Book your hotel in BWI (if this is a requirement for you). I HIGHLY recommend the E Suites at BWI. I called ahead and prearranged for them to store my box in the big walk-in freezer over night. They were super nice about it.
8. In the morning, take a taxi to go buy more dry ice… we actually had some left in the box that morning so not even sure you need to do this, but I was PCSing to AL in the summer so I wasn’t taking any chances. Again, you can have up to 5lbs of dry ice in there. Can’t remember where we bought it, but just google “dry ice supplier near BWI” and you’ll find one. I recommend bringing leather gloves with you to break it up after purchase.
9. When I checked in to my commercial flight, I told them what was in the box and that there was 5lbs of dry ice in it. They tagged it as such and it made it … completely frozen solid!
Have you traveled from Ramstein to the US with breastmilk? What was your experience like? Would this info have been helpful? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!