Tips on Traveling with Diabetes

by Laura Kronen on July 10, 2014


travel with diabetesIt’s time to take a holiday!  Summer time = vacation time and just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a full and happy life and that definitely includes seeing the world.  Over 350 million people in the world have diabetes so no matter where you go, you can be rest assured you won’t be the only one.  Whether you are hitting the open road, cruising the seven seas or flying to an exotic destination, there are some precautions you should take if you are traveling and have diabetes.

Following are some tips to insure a hassle-free journey:

Vacation Diabetic Checklist:

  • Ask your doctor for a letter explaining that you have diabetes and also get some extra prescriptions. Keep these with you at all times during your trip. Also pack a copy of your health insurance information and phone numbers.
  • Take plenty of supplies.  In fact, pack twice as many supplies as you think you’ll need. And pack them in your carry-on luggage. You also might want to consider packing a travel sharps container to dispose of your needles (any rigid plastic bottle with a cap will do).
  • You never know when your pump might decide not to work or you might break an insulin bottle. If you do need supplies while traveling, go to a local pharmacy or emergency room for insulin. Some countries may have another strength of insulin (U-40 or U-80) and syringes to match, so be careful and accurate when measuring the dose.
  • Crossing time zones can really throw your management schedule off. Depending on the distance you travel, you could lose or gain as much as a day. Speak with your doctor about adjusting insulin doses if you’re crossing time zones. This is especially important if you are on an insulin pump.
  • All your diabetic supplies can go through airport security. Notify airport security if you’re wearing an insulin pump. They might inspect the pump — but don’t let them remove it. You might want to consider not keeping the pump tucked inside your cleavage when going through airport security, unless you want TSA getting to second base with you.
  • If you need an insulin injection during a flight, follow your normal procedure, but put only half as much air into your insulin bottle as usual. Air pressure on the plane is not the same as on the ground.
  • Keep your watch on home time until you arrive at your destination. This allows you to adjust your schedule correctly in the new time zone.
  • Keep insulin in an insulated container, especially if you’re traveling to a warm climate. A thermos act as a great insulator.
  • Always, always, always have fast acting sugar on you no matter what your method of travel is.  Be prepared for lows.  Glucose tablets are the smallest and easiest to transport.  If you take insulin, carry a Glucagon kit along, and teach someone how and when to use it. Keep your meter with you, too.
  • If you need immunizations, plan to get them a month before you leave. Be aware that some shots can affect your blood sugar levels.
  • Scope out health care facilities where you’re traveling to. It’s always good to be proactive and prepared. Then you will most likely never need it.
  • Talk to the airline, hotel, or cruise ship about special meals, if you require them.
  • Learn certain phrases in the local language such as  “I have diabetes,” “Where is the hospital,” or “I need sugar.”
  • Take sugar-free powdered drink mix if you’re traveling to a country where diet drinks are not readily available. Mix it with bottled water.
  • Pack comfortable shoes, socks, and a first-aid kit to treat minor foot injuries. Bring a few pairs of shoes so you can change them often. This helps avoid blisters and sore pressure points. Protect your feet at all times.

Buon viaggio!, ¡Buen viaje!, Go dté tú slán, Gute Reise!, Bon Voyage ! Have a good trip!



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