Safe Trip Tips For Diabetics


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1. Keep your supplies close at hand.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, make sure your diabetes supplies are easily accessible. If you’re flying, be sure to put all of your supplies in your carry-on bags.

Back-up insulin should also be kept in your carry-on, because checked baggage can be exposed to extreme cold or heat that can spoil insulin, and ruin glucometers.

If you’re using a device to keep your insulin cool, be sure it is a cold pack, and not a freezer pack–freezing insulin destroys its efficacy. The same rules apply for storing supplies while driving or on a train.

Include a small approved sharps container,take a small first aid kit with you in case of aches and pains, minor cuts and burns

2. Try to stick to your routine.

Traveling can really throw people with diabetes off schedule at no fault of their own. The delay of a flight may mean sitting on the runway for hours, or if you’re traveling out of your time zone, it may mean feeling hungry when you should be asleep.

When you have diabetes, you need to think ahead and stick to your routine as much as possible. If you pack extra snacks for the plane, you may want to store them in an insulated bag with an ice pack.

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3. Get documentation.


Diabetes Care Documentation and Coding: A Handbook for Clinicians

Carry a note from your doctor stating that you have diabetes, and need to have your medication with you at all times.

The letter should state that you have diabetes and are carrying syringes or insulin pens and needles for your diabetes.

Explain you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and what insulin type and doses you are on. Also the times you usually take your insulin.

List the pen device or syringes you use, plus the blood glucose meter and testing strips you use.

Note any other medical conditions you have.

List any allergies you have or any foods or medications to which you are sensitive.

If you’re going to a country where they speak a language other than your own, translate the note into that language.

Make a few copies of the note and distribute to those traveling with you, so you will have documentation at all times.

4. Inform airport security you have diabetes.

When flying, remember to put your diabetes supplies in a quart size plastic container that is separate from the other non-diabetes liquids you’re bringing on board; this way, screeners can immediately separate diabetes medications from other liquid items in your carry-on baggage.

Sometimes it is helpful to carry your insulin bottles or pens in their original packaging to prove the prescription is your own.

5.Investigate the food you eat and beverages you drink.

If you take mealtime insulin, do your best to figure out the carbohydrate grams in the foods you’re eating so that you take the right pre-meal insulin,

Do some research on local foods before your trip.

Check on the basic forms of carbohydrates eaten in the countries that you are visiting.

While away, it should be possible to select familiar food such as rice, pasta, bread, biscuits and fruit.

You may need to schedule an appointment with your dietician to discuss the carbohydrate content of some of the basic foreign foods you may come across while away.

Alcohol may also lower your blood glucose level, so do not drink on an empty stomach.

You may need to take an extra carbohydrate snack before going to bed as alcohol has the potential to lower your glucose level hours later or the following morning.

With diabetes you will be more sensitive to dehydration so always drink plenty of fluids when in a hot climate.

If you do not drink enough when outdoors in a hot climate your insulin will be absorbed more slowly.

Later, when you drink properly, more insulin will be absorbed and you are at risk of having severe hypoglycaemia.

Bottled water from a reputable company with the seal intact is the best source to keep hydrated.

You may need to contact your diabetes team to clarify any issues on insulin absorption, sites, exercise and temperature prior to travelling.

Paying the extra cost for air conditioning may be beneficial to help prevent night time glucose fluctuations.

In addition, test your blood glucose before and after meals to see how new foods are affecting your control.

It’s crucial to keep your glucose numbers in check to avoid problems.

6. Increase your stash of supplies.

It’s wise to pack diabetes supplies as if you were staying twice as long as you plan to.

If you’re using a pump, should also remember to bring extra supplies.  Ask for a back-up loaner pump for your trip in case there’s a problem with the one you’re wearing.

Simply call the pump company you use.

7. Consider time zone changes.


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If you’re wearing an insulin pump and will be traveling to a location that is in another time zone, be sure to adjust your insulin pump’s clock to reflect the change.

If you have questions about how to handle the change, be certain to speak with your diabetes care team beforehand.

8. Tell others that you have diabetes.


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While it may not always be comfortable, it is important to tell the people with whom you are traveling that you have diabetes.

Let them know what you have to do to stay healthy and active on your journey, and what they should do in case there is an emergency.

Always wear a medical identification bracelet when you’re traveling and be certain that it states you have diabetes, if you take insulin, and if possible, list an emergency contact number.

It is a good idea to have a few phrases in the local language for example, I have diabetes, please give me something sweet, and please call a doctor.

If you’re bringing your mobile phone with you on holiday, be sure to enter a contact in your phone book entitled, “Emergency Contact”.

9.Travel Insurance


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You are advised to obtain full health insurance with comprehensive cover. Check what insurance cover you have or will need and the geographical area of cover.

Read all the small print in the policy so that you know what you will be covered and what will not.

Make sure your policy will cover you in case of a diabetes emergency related matter while abroad.

Remember that ordinary holiday insurance or backpackers insurance booked through your travel agent may not cover your diabetes as it may be considered a pre-existing condition.

Check with the travel agent about the extra premium required ensuring coverage of your condition.

If you have private  health cover, speak to your provider about their travel insurance.

If you are an EU citizen and need medical assistance while in another EU country, you need to bring a European Health Insurance Card.

Carry the contact details of your travel insurance medical division with your passport.

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