Traveling with Diabetes
You’ve been working hard – all day, every day. But the promise of sweet summer sunshine and a cool, calm breeze have you wishing for a much-deserved vacation. Whatever your dream retreat is, it’s totally impossible for you to travel – or so you thought. This summer, don’t let your diabetes hold you back from the trip of a lifetime. Follow these helpful hints from the American Diabetes Association for traveling with diabetes, and hit the road!
First, check with your doctor.
- Make sure your diabetes is under control.
- Get a letter from your doctor that explains what you need to do for your diabetes (i.e. take insulin shots or diabetes pills), lists any medications or devices you use (i.e.syringes), and lists any allergies or medications to which you are sensitive or allergic.
- Request a prescription. You should carry enough medication to get you through your trip, but it’s good to have the prescription in case of an emergency. If you’re going out of the country, contact the International Diabetes Federation for information on prescription laws in other countries.
Be able to communicate.
- If you are traveling out of the country, it is a good idea to get a list of English-speaking foreign doctors. Visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers to obtain a list.
- Learn how to say “I have diabetes” in the language of the country to which you are traveling.
- ALWAYS wear medical alert jewelry that shows you have diabetes.
- It’s better to be safe than sorry…pack at least twice as much medication and testing supplies as you should need, and keep all medication in your carry-on so it stays with you. Also keep air-tight snacks and sugar in your carry-on to treat low blood glucose.
- Don’t store insulin in glove compartments or in direct sunlight. Protect your insulin with a travel pack to keep it cool. Insulated lunch boxes work well for this. Simply fill it with ice the night before your trip and your medication will stay cool the next day.
Timing is everything.
- Ask your doctor to help you plan the timing of injections when you travel, especially if you are crossing time zones.
- Keep your flight schedule in mind when planning meals and injections.
- Keep your watch on your home time zone until the morning after you arrive. This will help you keep track of meals and medication while you are traveling.
While you’re there…
- Take snacks when you’re hiking or sightseeing – you never know if and when you will have access to food.
- Ask for a list of ingredients for unfamiliar foods to avoid upsetting your stomach.
- Wear comfortable shoes – don’t go barefoot!
- Take a lot of pictures, make a lot of memories, and bring us back a souvenir!
What are your summer vacation plans? Do you have any travel stories or tips for traveling with diabetes? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!