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Holiday Travel Tips for Families


As you know, I have a toddler and  we travel. Indeed, my daughter is well traveled for a two year old. I think that she has four airplane trips under her belt. Even though we've traveled often, each trip has had its own challenges.

 On our first trip we were harassed by the TSA agents.

The biggest challenge was our baby's first trip.  That trip included me getting into a fight with a TSA agent because she thought my breast milk was an explosive. My daughter was only 9 months old at the time. The TSA at the Charlotte Douglas airport was completely ignorant about the TSA rules for transporting breast milk.
We went through security only to learn that they were concerned about my breast milk.  In the interest of time, Andre and the toddler proceeded to the gate.  We were actually running late because my sister had joined us on our trip and when we went to leave her car battery was dead. So, we had to stay to jump her and that pushed us back about 45 minutes. By the time we got to the airport, introduced a friend to the baby, and returned the rental car we only had an hour to get to the plane.  We wished that we had more time, but felt confident that we’d make the plane. 

The comprehensive TSA search feels like a bad date.

Mine was a long search that almost made my family miss our plane. It was also a demoralizing upsetting search that included me a full body pat down. The search included a trip under the waist band of my pants on my bare skin. I hadn’t been felt up like that without permission since I danced with a drunk frat boy in college…

I kept repeating, "Breast milk is not a threat! Breast milk is not a threat!" However, it fell on deaf ears.
After learning that I didn’t have any explosives, drugs or other contraband they decided that a more detailed search was necessary. So, they made Andre and the toddler return from the gate.  They told me that was the plan and they said, “we’re going to search your husband and your baby too.”  That’s when I lost it. I am a bit of a germaphobe. The last thing that I was going to allow was for the TSA agent to touch my baby.  I believe they thought better of it. Because after they searched Andre, they let us go.

The most upsetting thing about it is that even after the search we had no answers.

Assuming that they actually discovered something that gave them concern, I inquired about the source of the problem because I never wanted to come into contact with whatever they found again.  However, they never explained the problem was. Instead, they just let us go and we barely made our plane.

It was either one of three things.  Either they found nothing, they just didn't understand the procedure for screening breast milk. Breast milk has some compound that is similar to an explosive--very unlikely.  Or, someone else was positive for some explosive and they wasted their time searching a lactating mom and her family...

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great insight for other families.  However, I did learn this, which is a most disheartening lesson. If you are breastfeeding, try not to travel with anymore breast milk than you need for the trip. Even though you are allowed to travel with breast milk it can be a hassle.  If you think that this is despicable advice, let’s join together and lobby the TSA to take measures educate their agents about the procedures. In the meantime, do whatever you need to avoid the full body pat down. 
Do you have any stories from your travels?

Holiday Travel Tips for Families

Here's a photo from that first trip. We still managed to have a great time!

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