If you have planned a getaway trip after a long and tiring work schedule and intend to make the most of it, you must organize yourself to lessen your worries. Especially for people with diabetes, it is necessary to keep it under control. Getting out of your routine by seeing new places is a significant part of the fun. But irregular eating schedules, walking for long hours, exploring new places, eating strange foods, and traveling during different time zones can all interfere with the control of diabetes. Hence, planning to have more pleasure and less anxiety on the journey and once you arrive at your destination is essential.
In this article, we will reflect upon all tips and tricks for people traveling with diabetes to ensure that they end up having the time of their lives!
Before leaving for your vacation
1. Getting a checkup with your doctor
It is vital to get a checkup from your doctor to ensure you’re healthy enough to go. Moreover, it is better to discuss how your upcoming activities may affect your diabetes and what you may do to prevent this. In this meeting, make sure you get all your queries answered, such as:
- Are there any vaccinations required?
- How do you change your insulin dosages when visiting locations in different time zones?
- Are there any necessary dose adjustments?
Additionally, request a letter from your medical professional that includes the following details:
- How you are treated for diabetes (diabetes pills, insulin shots)
- All prescription medications and diabetes management tools (for example, insulin, syringes, and other medicines or devices)
- Medications or food allergies
Moreover, ask your doctor to write you a prescription for insulin or diabetes medications. In the event of an emergency, the prescription might be helpful, but you should bring more than enough of your medication and syringes to last the duration of the trip. While traveling, only use U-100 syringes because other syringes will deliver larger or fewer doses than you require.
2. Purchase an ID bracelet
This is a bracelet with a medical alert that lists your diabetes and any other conditions you may have.
3. Locate any pharmacies and medical facilities close to your accommodation
In an emergency, you will be covered, and your condition can be managed promptly and efficiently.
4. Invest in travel insurance
If you require medical attention or miss your trip, travel insurance can keep you covered and provide compensation.
5. Packing food and medications
Pack your food or order a specific meal that suits your meal plan in advance for the flight. Make sure to include wholesome snacks like raw vegetables, fruit, and almonds.
Request an individual lunch (low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol) at least 48 hours before your flight. Always have some food on hand if your meal is delayed or your order is incorrect. If your food is delayed, you risk experiencing low blood glucose, so wait to take your insulin shot until you see your food coming down the aisle. Do not inject air into an insulin bottle while in the air if you are used to doing so before drawing out some insulin, because the pressure in aircrafts is different than the one on ground, and this can affect the bottle.
In addition to this, bring twice as much medication as you anticipate using. Carry medicines in the original pharmacy bottles, or request extra labels from your pharmacist to be printed and attached to plastic bags. Moreover, put your diabetes supplies in a carry-on bag when you pack (insulin could get too cold in your checked luggage). Finally, consider taking a smaller bag to keep snacks, insulin, and glucose pills in your seat, along with the doctor’s prescription.
If you’re going on a trip where you’ll be spending time outdoors, pack some disposable wipes so you can wash your hands before checking your blood sugar.
Passing through airport security
1. Ask for a hand inspection
The 3.4 oz. The liquid rule does not apply to medications or gel packs that keep insulin cool for patients with diabetes. However, the X-ray machine could harm an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor. Ask for a hand inspection rather than disconnecting from either instead.
2. Get a TSA notice card
The TSA card is optional but makes the screening process move more swiftly and efficiently. It provides a detail of all medical issues that could interfere with the screening.
1. Cooler preparation
If you’re traveling by car, prepare a cooler with wholesome food and lots of water. Keep insulin and diabetes medications in the cooler and out of bright sunshine and warm vehicles. Never directly apply insulin to ice or a gel pack.
Heat can also harm your insulin pump, blood sugar monitor, and other diabetes devices. So keep children away from hot vehicles, swimming pools, sun, and beaches. The same is true for equipment like test strips.
2. Manage what you eat
You can find healthy meal options anywhere from the airport to restaurants and cafes. These include:
- Fruits and fresh juices
- Fish salads
3. Make sure to move around
To avoid blood clots, get out of the automobile and walk every hour or two, or alternately, up and down the train aisle or plane. This is because people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing conditions like deep vein thrombosis.
4. Set an alarm
If traveling across time zones, set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medication.
5. Inform people about your diabetes
Tell your traveling companions about your condition. Consequently, the people around you can assist you quickly and effectively if you have a low blood sugar episode and lose awareness or control, before you can treat it.
Last but not least, make sure to save your emergency phone number in the “Emergency Contact” section of your mobile device. If you are unconscious or unable to answer their questions, paramedics will find it for you.
At Your Destination
1. Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly
Although your blood sugar may initially be over or below your goal range, your body should adjust after a few days. Therefore, you should frequently check your blood sugar and handle highs and lows as directed by your doctor or a diabetes educator.
2. Avoid eating excessively
Trying out the local food is a significant highlight for most trips, this can also include enjoying hotel or cruise food. Avoid the massive buffet and place an order from the regular menu, which offers healthier options. Choose a low-carb menu or order from the 24-hour room service for something delicious within your eating plan.
3. Avoid excessive strenuous activity
Avoid engaging in excessive physical activity in the summertime. Don’t go barefoot, not even on the beach, and stay out of the sun. If you plan to be more active than usual, check your blood sugar levels before and after, and make any necessary adjustments to your diet, exercise, and insulin.
4. Learn basic language skills
When you travel, especially abroad, you might not be able to find all you need to manage your diabetes. So, learn some language skills that will come in handy, including “I have diabetes” and “Juice.”
5. Avoid excessive heat
Extreme heat can alter the way your body uses insulin. As a result, you may need to check your blood sugar levels more frequently, change how much insulin you take, and modify what you eat and drink.
6. Calculate your calories and carbohydrates before eating
It’s a good idea to check the carb and calorie counts of some of the meals you anticipate eating on an online calorie-counting website. Have you tried out the Diabetes:M food database? It helps you scan foods, save meals & dishes and so much more.
Diabetes can make traveling and daily life more difficult, but it doesn’t have to force you to stay at home. Instead, you’ll be more able to unwind and take in all the great moments of your trip if you prepare ahead more. The secret to traveling with diabetes is to plan. Traveling for fun is possible for people with diabetes in various forms, whether a walk at the beach, backpacking across Europe, or exploring the United States of America.
Dr. Ahmed is licensed by the General Medical Council, United Kingdom, and the Pakistan Medical Commission, Pakistan. With three years of experience, he has dealt with all kinds of diabetic patients and managed them with counseling and prescriptions. He is about to start his journey as a Junior Clinical Fellow in spinal surgery and orthopedic surgery in the United Kingdom.