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9 Tips For Safe Travel With Diabetes

Traveling, whether it be for business or pleasure can easily take you out of your diabetes care routine. Before hightailing it out of town, make sure you are prepared. A little extra homework will help keep your diabetes from putting any kinks in your long-awaited travel plans. 

How you prepare greatly depends on where you’re going and for how long. Ask yourself, how will your lifestyle change while traveling? Will you be able to prepare your own food, or will you be eating out? Will you be able to maintain adequate exercise or will you have more down time?

These helpful tips can help you stay on track with your diabetes treatment plan during your summer vacation getaways. 

1. Prior to your trip

  • Inform your doctor about your trip including when you leave, how long you will be gone and if you will be crossing time zones to find out if insulin doses need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • If traveling outside the country, check to see if any immunizations are needed before going. Since some shots can influence your blood sugar levels, ask your doctor any questions you have.
  • If you plan to be gone for a longer period of time, have a thorough medical exam to ensure your diabetes is in good control before traveling.
  • If running low on insulin or diabetes pills, ensure you have more than enough insulin and syringes, or pills to last during the time you will be away from home.

2. Wear your Diabetes Medical ID

The American Diabetes Association recommends those with diabetes, particularly those who use insulin, to have a medical ID with them at all times. This is especially important when traveling away from home.

In the event of a severe hypoglycemic episode, a car accident, or other emergency, your MedicAlert Diabetes ID can provide first responders life-saving health information.

3. Ensure Emergency Medical Information Record is current

Before traveling, confirm your medications, insulin doses, physician(s) information, emergency contacts, and all other pertinent health information is up-to-date.

4. Keep supplies close by

  • Always have access to your prescription drugs, syringes, inhaler, and blood sugar testing supplies.
  • If flying, ensure they are in your carry-on luggage so they don’t get lost and are readily available.
  • An immediate remedy for low blood sugar, like juice boxes, candy, etc.

5. Set your watch

When taking multiple daily injections and crossing time zones, it’s recommended to take insulin at the same time you would at home. So if you take it at 9 a.m. PST but traveling to the east coast which puts you three hours ahead, you’d take your injection at noon. In addition, setting alarms on your watch or cell phone will help you remember injection times while away from your normal routine.

6. Be prepared to exercise

Your travel itinerary may include site seeing and/or excursions which entail more walking or other types of physical activity. Keep in mind that more activity than usual can increase your risk for hypoglycemia.

Ensure you have a source of glucose handy at all times. If you use insulin, talk to your doctor before traveling to see if a lower dose may be necessary. 

7. Have snacks on hand

In case there’s no place or time to purchase a bite to eat, have your own snacks on hand that you can munch on while traveling.

8. Inform airport security you have diabetes

When flying, remember to put your diabetes supplies in a quart size plastic container that is separate from the other non-diabetes liquids you’re bringing on board; this way, screeners can immediately separate diabetes medications from other liquid items in your carry-on baggage.

9. Tell others that you have diabetes

If your diabetes isn’t known to those you are traveling with, it’s important to inform them of your condition while away from home.  Let them know what you have to do to stay healthy and active on your journey, and what they should do in case there is an emergency. In addition, wearing your medical ID while traveling will inform first responders about your diabetes and give them immediate access to your up-to-date medical information in the event you have a diabetic emergency.