Living with diabetes—type 1 or type 2—can often seem like a challenge. Traveling with diabetes, regardless of whether it is by air, road or sea, it is normal to feel a little anxious. With some careful planning and self-management tips for diabetes care, it can be an enjoyable experience.
Good planning before taking a trip is important for everyone, but more so when you have diabetes. Things to consider include airline regulations, a well-timed itinerary, in-flight needs and being prepared for that ‘what-if’ situation. For people
with type 1 diabetes there are even more considerations to be aware of.
Traveling with diabetes can be enjoyable
Planning should ideally be weeks before the trip
Your planning should revolve around
- Making a detailed itinerary with dates, departure and arrival times, flight duration and time differences if traveling across time zones. This will help decide testing frequencies and meal plans
- Taking to your physician about how to manage your blood sugar levels in various situations
- Knowing what to pack—medicines and supplies
- If traveling by air, airport security regulations
- Learning to manage blood sugar levels while traveling
- Monitoring your condition in a new location
Research your destination before you pack
The first step to traveling with diabetes is to start by doing a little research on your destination, so that you have an idea about how much medicine and other supplies you need to pack, what healthcare services are available there, and options for food you can eat safely.
I generally find that it is easiest to work with lists as they can be printed out for quick reference.
Make checklists to help you to have a safe, fun and hassle-free trip, whether travelling by plane, train or motor vehicle.
While traveling with diabetes, remember the following
Once you reach your destination,
- Your blood sugar may not be in target range initially, but your body will probably adjust to it in a few days. Check your blood sugar often and treat highs or lows as per your doctor’s instructions.
- If you plan to be more active than usual, check your blood sugar before and after and make adjustments to food, activity, and insulin as needed.
- Food is a huge highlight (and temptation!) when on a trip. Sure you want to sample the local cuisine. But you are better off making healthier choices or pick from a low-carb menu – or order something tasty that fits in your meal plan.
- If the weather is too hot, don’t overdo physical activity during the heat of the day. Avoid getting a sunburn and don’t go barefoot, not even on the beach.
- High temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. You may need to test your blood sugar more often and adjust your insulin dose and what you eat and drink.
- You may not be able to find everything you need to manage your diabetes away from home, especially if you are traveling abroad. It’s a good idea to learn some useful phrases, such as “I have diabetes” and “where is the nearest pharmacy?”
- If your vacation is in the great outdoors, bring wet wipes so you can clean your hands before you check your blood sugar.
So maybe diabetes can make everyday life and travel more challenging, but it doesn’t have to keep you close to home. Be brave. Enjoy life. The more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy all the exciting experiences of your trip.
Read my post Diabetes Care and Air Travel: Have You Packed Well?
Learn more about
- how to plan in advance
- what to pack
- checklists for what you can put in your cabin baggage
- some ideas for diabetes-friendly travel snacks
- what to do at the airport
- how to manage blood glucose while traveling
- and more.
The thought of an upcoming trip always puts a skip in my step. The weeks leading up to the trip are spent day-dreaming about all the excitement that awaits you. As exciting as the idea of the trip maybe, the events leading up to it are my least favourite – planning, prepping and packing. These tasks even in their standard form are pretty tedious; throw in managing diabetes care with travel and it has the potential to turn the process into a bit of a stressor.
But fret not! Living with diabetes is all about making smart choices. We’ve got a couple of pointers that might soothe your prepping angst. With these tips, you should be able to tackle air travel with ease and focus on making the most of your trip.
Are you nervous about traveling with diabetes?