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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Holiday Travel Advisory

Planning to travel this season? Here's how to stay happy and healthy en route.

WebMD Feature

As the busy holiday season approaches, thousands of airline travelers get ready to tackle the lines and delays. Thousands more are braving the trains and buses and automobiles to be with family and friends. But beware, travel today is fraught with long delays at check-in, on the tarmac, and on the road.

For people with serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease -- and for young children -- all this can be a real ordeal. If you don't plan properly, it could even be life-threatening.

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How to keep everyone healthy and happy during those long travel hours? WebMD sought the advice of a few experts.

If you have diabetes...

Eat close to your regular schedule. "That's especially important for diabetics," says Inyanga Mack, MD, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Since meal service has been discontinued on most flights, getting to the airport early leaves you time to eat before the flight. Also, bring along healthy snacks to offset the risk of hypoglycemia, whether on the road or in the air, she tells WebMD.

Wear an appropriate medical alert bracelet. Carry the name of an emergency contact person and your primary care physician, Mack suggests. Keep a list of your medications and doses, so someone can get access to your medication in an emergency.

Take medications with you, not packed in luggage. Carry a few days' supply of your medications. Then if luggage gets lost, or if you're trapped in the airport or on the plane for extended periods, your health won't be in jeopardy. Always eat and take medications according to your regular schedule, even if everything else is in turmoil.

Make sure medications are properly labeled. All prescriptions must have the pharmaceutical label or professionally printed label identifying the drug. If you are not permitted to board with your medications and supplies, ask to speak with the airport's FAA representative or the security director. You may even want to call ahead of time to be sure you can get on board with what you need.

FAA requirements: Diabetic people carrying syringes and/or needles must also carry the injectable medication. Diabetic people traveling in the U.S. can bring syringes and other such equipment in carry-on bags, but insulin vials must have a professional, printed medication label. Better yet, keep insulin in its original box, since it has the pharmaceutical company label. Needles must be capped. The glucose meter must have the manufacturer's name on it. Injectable glucagon should also be in its original plastic kit with the pre-printed pharmaceutical label.

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