For those with Diabetes, safety and well-being should be the number one priority while traveling. David Kerr, MD, a diabetes expert, explains that 10 percent of diabetic people experience blood sugar problems when traveling. To ensure you’re healthy during a trip, we recommend following these 17 tips. From planning out your meals wisely to wearing medical alert jewelry and emergency ID tags, we’ve covered it all. In dire situations, you’ll be grateful to have followed these tips.
#1. Plan Out Meals
Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, you should map out what (and when) you’ll be eating during your trip. Not every airline offers snacks or meals that cater to the needs of a diabetic person. Sometimes, food can even run out of stock due to limited supply. If food isn’t readily available, make sure you’re stocked up on snacking options. At the airport, you can purchase nuts, seeds, fruits, yogurt, and sandwiches. Sometimes, you might also have the option to make a special request to the airline for diabetes-friendly meals. To prepare for a low glucose level, you can pack candies, soda, and juices as well.
#2. Bring a Doctor’s Letter
Plan ahead and bring a doctor’s letter to the airport. The TSA will typically stop you if they detect medical items. Your doctor’s letter should claim that you need to carry insulin, test strips, syringes, pharmacy-labeled pill bottles, and insulin vials. It can be cumbersome if the TSA has to stop you and go through all of your belongings or question you.
#3. Adjust Insulin as Needed
Changing time zones can also affect your insulin levels. Discuss with your doctor and figure out the best solution. Based on your itinerary, you may need to have higher or fewer doses of insulin to make sure it remains stable.
#4. Pack Diabetes Supplies Into Carry-on Bag
Make sure that you pack your diabetes supplies into your carry-on bag. You may need to take a dose during your flight or even raise your glucose levels. It’s always good to have these within arms reach. Also, label your diabetic equipment and items clearly to avoid the hassle of explaining at every check-point. It is advised to keep the original pharmaceutical labels, especially on the vials or preloaded syringes, for further clarity. Doing so is crucial if you’re carrying insulin on the plane. Make sure you have insulin with you if you’re taking any empty syringes. Also, you may take as many unused ones as you need.
#5. Disconnect Your Pump Briefly
Studies have shown that a change in pressure on the flight can affect the amount of insulin induced. Briefly disconnect your pump during takeoff and landing. When you’re cruising at a stable altitude, feel free to reconnect.
#6. Careful With the Alcohol
In case you are consuming alcohol during your journey, you might need to be extra careful (and selective). Alcohol can lower down blood glucose, and its effects can last up to 24 hours. Try to limit the amount of your drink while traveling and monitor your blood sugar regularly.
#7. Bring Cool Packs
With extreme temperatures, your blood sugar can get out of control. Being in freezing temperatures or extreme heat can affect your medications and testing equipment. Cool packs come handy in such situations as they can store and keep most of your medications and supplies in their best state for longer. Many travel-friendly insulin cooling wallets are also available online. Using a re-freezable gel pack, they can store insulin pens, vials, and injections, keeping them cool for hours.
#8. Bring Extras
For long trips, delays may occur. There might be flight delays, layovers, or heavy traffic congestion. Having extras will allow you to make it through long, unexpected delays. If you’re heading to a country with a different language, you may find it difficult to find supplies as well.
#9. Keep Moving
Make sure that your blood flow is somewhat constant all the time. Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of blood clots. Get out of the car and walk for a few minutes if you’ve been sitting for over 5 hours. Also, walk up and down the aisle for a bit every hour to prevent blood clots on long flights.
#10. Avoid Giant Buffets
Choose a-la-carte over buffets, especially in cruises where you’re tempted to hog on lavish food spreads that they have to offer. Instead, choose healthier options or low-carb options to avoid sudden blood sugar spikes. You are responsible for your food choices. Choose wisely!
#11. Avoid Strenuous Activity
If there’s an exercise gym or class, make sure to take it easy. Avoid getting burnt or going barefoot. Any activity (no matter how fun) that seems too tiring may not be the best option for you.
#12. Bring Wet Wipes
There are probably bathrooms nearby, but having wet wipes comes in handy while traveling. And if you’re going to be outdoors for too long, such as while camping, these become a must-have. Clean your hands often, especially before checking your blood sugar.
#13. Set Alarms
When you’re traveling, your routine usually gets thrown off a bit. Make sure to set alarms to remind yourself to take medicine, have your meals on time, and check your blood sugar when you need to.
#14. Carry an Emergency ID Tag
Medical ID Tags, such as wallet cards, are an effective way to communicate important information to first responders in a medical emergency. These tags are usually large enough to hold a few lines so you can have an emergency contact engraved on them along with the details of your condition. If your blood sugar level is getting out of control, you can notify nearby medical assistants, even if you are unable to communicate verbally.
#15. Always Wear Medical Alert Bracelets
Medical alert bracelets are more comfortable to carry around. While you might forget a wallet card, a bracelet can be worn at all times. Make sure that your bracelet is comfortable to wear, legible, and made of non-corrosive material. Pick a bracelet that looks good to you, so you’re more inclined to wear it every day. If you’re a male, there are fashionable medical alert bracelets for men. For children, there are specially-made kids medical alert bracelets to ensure a comfortable fit for smaller wrist sizes. And for the elderly, you can easily find senior medical alert bangles online.
#16. Get a TSA Notification Card
Get a TSA notification card to speed up the screening process. Doing so will save you time and unnecessary hassle.
#17. Get Travel Insurance
We know insurance can be pricey at times. But, safety always comes first. With travel insurance, you’ll be covered if you miss a flight or need special medical care.
It might be a bit more challenging to travel with a medical issue, but diabetes shouldn’t hold you back from enjoying the experiences of your upcoming trip to the fullest. Plan ahead with these 17 useful tips and travel with diabetes – without worry!