Traveling With Diabetes

Spring break is getting closer, which means starting to freak out about swimsuit season and planning the perfect trip. I am what they call an achiever, which means I usually have my bags packed a week in advance…don’t judge. I just like to be overly prepared for anything and everything. I have to have a million outfits for each day; what if it’s colder than expected? What if we decide to go on a hike? What if, what if, what if? I make a checklist and lay out all the different outfits I have for each day and figure out how to interchange the outfits between days so I can bring a medium sized bag rather than a beast of a bag. Not only do I have to think through all the what ifs for my clothing choices, but I usually have to think through all the what ifs of diabetes.

My first trip with diabetes didn’t go as well as I planned. I had forgotten extra test strips and couldn’t get a refill without paying an arm and a leg. On another trip, I was checking my numbers while in line at Disneyland and dropped my lancing device (aka my finger pricker) in the Jungle Cruise River. Then on another trip, I had to change my cannula and after injecting it into my skin, realized I couldn’t remember if I primed it or not (this happens often) but it was the only set I had, I just had to hope for the best. After each trip I vowed to make sure I prepped for everything when traveling and then something new would happen. My diabetes supply case started to look as large as my suitcase. I decided to look around and see what tips were online for packing diabetes supplies when traveling. Here are some of the things I found:

  1. Always be prepared for the apocalypse and bring double the amount of insulin you would normally need.
  2. Always short and long acting insulin as well as a few syringes in case your pump lets you down
  3. Your medical ID bracelet
  4. An emergency low kit. I always bring extra juice and glucose tablets as a last resort.
  5. I always bring extra pump supplies in case I rip my cannula out or I need to reset my pump altogether.
  6. Bring a note from your Doctor with all your information as well as a list of your medication and an extra prescription refill.
  7. Extra box of test strips. I always have extras stashed in my purse as well as in my suitcase.
  8. And after my Disneyland trip I always bring an extra glucose monitor with me just in case.

Now that you are packed for your trip here are some tips for what to take care of before your trip, how to navigate through the airport, and some general rule of thumb tricks for during your trip.

Before your trip:
  1. Make a quick appointment with your doctor. This is really helpful if you are going anywhere for an extended period time or somewhere far away. You can talk with your doctor about where you are going, activities you plan to participate in, and how to adjust your pump settings for the trip. Also be sure to get an extra prescription just in case and a note from your doctor to let people know that you need your medication on you at all times.

If you are flying to your destination:

  1. Be sure to have enough supplies on you in case something happens to your luggage.
  2. Always tell airport security that you have diabetes and have your prescription and doctor’s note on you in case they would like to verify. You can also visit the TransportationSafety Administration website to get more details on traveling with diabetes. 

During your traveling:

  1.  Always have your in case of a low kit with you. I notice when I travel I tend to go low more often because I am a lot more active when traveling.
  2. Make sure you change your clock on your pump so you are receiving your basal rates at the appropriate time.
  3. Try to stick to your normal eating schedule as much as you can and carry snacks with you at all times.
  4. Adjust your basal rates to the days activities. Will you be walking around a lot? Or laying out by the beach? Go into your pump setting and select a pattern that you and your doctor have created for more active days or less active days. Or if you would also like to set up a temporary basal you can do that as well. 

Traveling with diabetes isn’t as difficult as it can feel. You do need to do a little more prep work and always be prepared for the unexpected, and if the unexpected happens and you’re not prepared for it, that’s ok, lesson learned. Just remember to add it to your prep list on your next trip. Spring Break is meant to be relaxing and fun, don’t let your diabetes stop you from enjoying yourself, just be sure to plan for anything and everything and you should be fine.


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