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Tips for Traveling With Diabetes

Insulin Injections

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.

On the Road Foot Care

People with diabetes require special foot care. Follow these tips:

  • Pack at least two pairs of shoes so you can change shoes often. Changing shoes helps prevent blisters and sore pressure points.
  • Pack comfortable shoes, socks, and a first aid kit to treat minor foot injuries.
  • Do not go barefoot. Instead, wear shoes that are specially made for ocean or beach walking. Protect your feet at all times when you are walking by the pool, in the park, on the beach, or swimming in the ocean.
  • Do not wear open-toe shoes, including sandals, flip-flops, or others (you increase your risk for injury and infection when your toes are exposed).
  • Follow your daily foot care regimen.

Coping With an Emergency When Out of the Country

If an emergency occurs and you do not know where to go, try to reach the American consulate, the Red Cross, or a local medical school. Learn certain phrases in the local language such as: "I need help" or "I have diabetes, where is the hospital?" or "I need sugar."

Another resource for English speakers who need to find medical assistance is the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) (www.iamat.org). IAMAT can be reached at 716-754 4883.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on June 10, 2015
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