Tips for Traveling With Diabetes
For people with diabetes, going on vacation or traveling for business requires extra planning. Changes in meal patterns, activity levels, and time zones can affect your blood sugar levels. Here are some tips to make traveling easier.
Before You Leave
- Make an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your travel plans.
- Get twice as many supplies needed to travel and bring extra prescriptions and a letter from your doctor explaining that you have diabetes.
- If you need immunization shots, plan to get them three to four weeks before your vacation. Some of these shots can upset your blood sugar levels.
- Be prepared. Know what facilities are available within the region you will be visiting.
What Should I Bring With Me?
- Bring your doctor's name and phone number and keep it with you at all times.
- Bring a list of current medicines and keep it with you at all times.
- Always carry and wear medical identification that states that you have diabetes.
- Keep medicines, syringes, and blood sugar testing supplies in your carry-on luggage. Do not check these supplies with your luggage, in case it is lost. Also, the cargo hold is not heated or insulated well, so medicine and supplies can be damaged.
- Take enough medicines and medical supplies to last an extra week in case you get stranded or stay longer than you planned.
- Have a traveling companion carry some of your medical supplies, if possible.
- Always carry some type of sugar source in case you develop hypoglycemia.
- Inform the airlines, cruise ships, and tour guides in advance that you have diabetes. Most airlines and cruise ships will provide special meals.
- Test your blood sugar more often than usual.
At the Airport
Steps you can take to make your trip through airport security hassle-free include:
- Make sure you tell security that you are diabetic and that you are carrying medical supplies. Your supplies can be taken through security check points, but they must have a prescription label on them.
- All of your supplies should have a proper manufacturer's label.
- Syringes will be allowed through security if you have insulin with you.
- If you are wearing an insulin pump, you must notify security. They will visually inspect the meter. You must request that the meter not be removed.
If you are traveling on an airplane and you need an insulin injection during your flight, follow your normal procedure -- with one difference: Put only half as much air into your insulin bottle as you normally would. The pressure is different in airplanes than on the ground.
Time zone changes of two or more hours may mean you need to change your injection schedule. Check with your doctor for special instructions.
Keep the temperature of your insulin between 33 and 80 F. Do not freeze your insulin or expose it to sunlight.