Travel with Diabetes

As a diabetic, you need to be more prepared for traveling than others. There are more equipment and medications to pack and more steps to take before you are even ready to leave for your trip. This post mostly refers to type 2 diabetics, but some of these tips can transfer over for type 1 diabetics.


Before leaving on a road trip or vacation, remember to get a doctor’s note that includes a list of medication, monitoring and dispensing equipment, details on the need to carry supplies in your hand luggage as well as contact details for your diabetes care team.

Big tip: When you’re planning for a trip, make sure your destination has an in-room refrigerator for your insulin, if you take any.

Road Trip

BEFORE YOU LEAVE: Check your blood sugar, less than 100mg/dL -> have a snack (like a hard-boiled egg or orange), wait 15 mins then test again.

Stock the car with hard candies, crackers, and other fast-acting sugars within reach while driving. Add some substantial snacks (like cheese and crackers or trail mix).

If you’re on the road for an hour or more, check you blood sugar every 2-4 hours.

Once you get to your destination, place your insulin in the fridge.

Hypoglycemia – if you experience sweating, anxiety, and the shakes, pull over to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible. Check your sugar and treat your low before you get back to driving.

Airport

  1. While planning for a long distance trip, make sure your destination has hospitals or pharmacies nearby. In case of emergency, if you’re in need of a hospital, extra supplies, or medication. Also take note of the time change so you can change the time on your equipment for better management.
  2. If you have an iPhone, make sure you setup/update your Medical ID. It should include the numbers for your doctors, medical condition, medication you’re on, and the contact information of any family members that know about your medical condition.
  3. Consider getting travel insurance. In case of medical emergency or cancellation, or lost, damaged, or stolen luggage. Especially if you’re storing your equipment in your checked luggage.
  4. Flying with diabetes supplies – As a precaution and in case of emergency, pack twice as many supplies than you think you need. In your carry on pack lancets, test strips, insulin, health insurance card, extra batteries for your monitor, contact information, oral medications, snacks and juice boxes, and glucose tablets.
  5. Get to the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. In case you run into any snags while checking in.
  6. TSA & Diabetes – Find out about the TSA’s guidelines for traveling with diabetes. You can get a TSA diabetes notification card or a letter from your endocrinologist.
  7. Tell the TSA officer about your diabetes supplies. You can’t remove your CGM or insulin pump.
  8. Keep your insulin cool while flying. Use a pouch or bag with an ice pack. There are some on Amazon that you can purchase for under $15.

Check your sugar before leaving for the airport, check again before boarding your flight, and once more when you’ve landed. If your flight is more than one hour, check every 2 to 4 hours as you think is needed. If you don’t have a designated disposal container, carry a ziplock bag or container with you for the used test strips and discard securely when able.

Arrival

When you arrive at your destination, here are a few tips to help keep your trip enjoyable.

  1. Avoid raw or undercooked seafood.
  2. Stay clear of food that’s been left out for long periods of time.
  3. Buy bottled water.
  4. Ask for your drinks without ice.

No one wants to spend their vacation on the toilet the whole time.

Remember no two people are the same. Some run high, some low. You know how your diabetes works so act accordingly to avoid medical emergencies.

If you have any more travel tips, please feel free to comment them below and share them with your fellow diabetics.


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