Traveling With Diabetes
Heading out of town or off to an important business trip? Whenever or wherever you travel, your diabetes comes along with you. While having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from traveling, you will have to do some careful planning to ensure your diabetes is properly maintained. Here are some helpful travel tips from the National Diabetes Education Program.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- Control your ABC’s: A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. See your health care provider for a check-up four to six weeks before your trip to make sure your ABCs are under control and in a healthy range before you leave.
- Ask your health care provider for a prescription and a letter explaining your diabetes medications, supplies, and any allergies. Carry this with you at all times on your trip. The prescription should be for insulin or diabetes medications and could help in case of an emergency.
- Wear identification that explains you have diabetes. The identification should be written in the languages of the places you are visiting.
- Plan for time zone changes. Make sure you’ll always know when to take your diabetes medicine, no matter where you are.
Find out how long the flight will be and whether meals will be served. However, you should always carry enough food to cover the entire flight time in case of delays or unexpected schedule changes.
- Take twice the amount of diabetes medication and supplies that you’d normally need. Unexpected situations may arise and your return trip could be delayed.
- Keep your insulin cool by packing it in an insulated bag with refrigerated gel packs.
- Keep snacks, glucose gel, or tablets with you in case your blood glucose drops.
- If you use insulin, make sure you also pack a glucagon emergency kit.
- Make sure you keep your medical insurance card and emergency phone numbers handy.
Some things to keep in mind on a road trip:
- Don’t leave your medications in the trunk, glove compartment, or near a window, they may overheat. If possible, carry a cooler in the car to keep medications cool.
- Bring extra meals and snacks with you in the car in case you cannot find a restaurant or grocery store.
Some things to keep in mind if you are flying:
- Plan to carry all your diabetes supplies in your carry-on luggage. Don’t risk a lost suitcase.
- Have all syringes and insulin delivery systems (including vials of insulin) clearly marked with the pharmaceutical preprinted label that identifies the medications. Keep your diabetes medications and emergency snack with you at your seat; do not store them in an overhead bin.
- If the airline offers a meal for your flight call ahead for a diabetic, low fat, or low cholesterol meal. Wait until your food is about to be served before you take your insulin otherwise, a delay in the meal could lead to low blood glucose.
- If no food is offered on your flight, bring a meal on board yourself.
- If you plan on using the restroom for insulin injections, ask for an aisle seat for easier access.
- Don’t be shy about telling the flight attendant that you are diabetic, especially if you are traveling alone.
- When drawing up your dose of insulin, do not inject air into the bottle (the air on your plane will probably be pressurized).
General traveling tips:
- Stay comfortable and reduce your risk for blood clots by moving around every hour or two.
- Always tell at least one person traveling with you about your diabetes.
- Protect your feet. Never go barefoot in the shower or pool.
- Check your blood glucose often. Changes in diet, activity, and time zones can affect your blood glucose in unexpected ways.
You may not be able to leave your diabetes behind, but you can manage it and have a relaxing and safe trip. To learn more about managing your diabetes visit the National Diabetes Education Program at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org or call 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337), TTY: 1-866-596-1162.
Resource Website: http://www.ndep.nih.gov
Submitted by Andromeda Lopez, CFS Office Clerk