If you have diabetes, traveling will need a bit of extra planning.
Changes in meal patterns, activity levels, and time zones can all have an impact on your blood sugar levels.
A little extra effort in advance can make your trip go smoother.
Though diabetes should not prevent you from travelling, there are certain things that you need to take into consideration before you plan on travelling.
Listed below are some valuable diabetes traveling tips obtained from the National Diabetes Education Program.
Plan in advance
- Make sure you receive all the necessary vaccinations one month before your trip, this way you will have enough time to manage any possible adverse reactions.
- Take care of your ABCs: A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. Pay a visit to your medical care provider for a check-up at least one month before you plan on travelling to examine your ABC numbers. Seek advice from your medical care provider in terms of any changes that needs to be made in your diabetes plan, to ensure that your health is taken care of before your trip.
- Have a letter from your medical provider explaining your diabetes, list of medications, allergies and that you are allowed to carry supplies or medicines since some airlines and some countries require you to. Needles and syringes can certainly become an issue when travelling and when arriving in some countries.
- In case you use insulin, make a note of the types of insulin and the impact it has on you. Make sure you always have a copy of the types of insulin with you.
- Always carry identification with you that you have diabetes in case you are unable to explain yourself. Try getting a necklace or bracelet that indicates you are a diabetic.
- When you travel east, days are shorter, meaning there are two hours less, and you might have to take less units of long-acting insulin.
- When you travel west, days are longer, meaning there are two extra hours, and you might have to take additional units of short-acting insulin and more food.
- Discuss your itinerary with your health care team and prepare meals and medication times, specifically if you are travelling through different time zones. Carry appropriate snacks with you in the event that your flight or in-flight meal is delayed, or in case the meals that are served do not include enough carbohydrate.
- Ensure that you pack an extra supply of insulin or pills as well as an extra supply of syringes or needles than those that you will normally need.
- Insulin should be stored at room temperature
- Consider other supplies you may require, which includes medication for low blood sugar, food, drinking water, sun block, medication for diarrhea and nausea as well as walking shoes.
- Ensure that you carry emergency numbers and your medical insurance card at all times.
- Remember to pack an emergency first aid kit.
Some things to keep in mind when you are travelling by air:
- Ensure that you pack supplies and medication in carry-on luggage bags. Pack additional medication and supplies in the event of theft, accidental destruction or loss.
- Review the latest information regarding packing your supplies and the things that are allowed (and not allowed) in carry-on and checked baggage.
- Airlines normally offer meals specifically for individuals suffering from diabetes, but usually the standard airline meals are suitable for people with diabetes.
- In case there won’t be any meals served during your flight, ensure that you pack a meal for yourself.
- Don’t be shy to let flight attendants know you have diabetes. Most airlines are more than happy to help passengers with special needs and this is especially important when you travel alone.
- Make sure you don’t inject air into the bottle when you draw up the insulin.
- To learn more about taking care of your health abroad, check out the U.S. Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/health.html.
- To learn more about traveling with diabetes, go to the Transportation Security Administration website (TSA): http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/passengers-diabetes.
Things to remember when you travelling by car:
Never store your medicine near the window, in a glove box or in the trunk, as it may overheat.
If you can, take a cooler with you to ensure that your medicine stays cool. Keep your medication, meals, and snack times as normal as possible.
General travel tips:
- Protect your feet. Never go without shoes in the shower or pool.
- Try to stay active by stretching your legs often to improve blood flow and to reduce the possibility of blood clots.
- Check your blood sugar levels as often as you can. Changes in time zones, activity, and diet can influence your glucose levels in various ways.
- Always let someone know that you are suffering from diabetes.