Tips for traveling with diabetes

September 14, 2015 Providence Health Team

Ready for that long-waited vacation you’ve been planning?

If you have diabetes, you know your medical condition doesn’t take a holiday. Here are a few things you can do to enjoy your trip and make sure diabetes doesn’t get in the way.

Before you go

Confirm that your immunizations are up to date and find out where to get medical care if needed while you are away.

Make sure to pack:

  • Twice the amount of diabetes supplies you need, in case of travel delays
  • Copies of prescriptions
  • A medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes.
  • Health insurance information and emergency phone numbers
  • Plenty of snacks and glucose tablets in case your blood glucose drops

As you travel

Keeping track of shots and meals through changing time zones can be tricky. The best way to do this is to keep your watch on your home time zone while you travel, and then change to the local time zone the morning after you arrive.

More things you can do for smooth traveling with diabetes:

  • When flying, keep all diabetes supplies, plus ample snacks (and a meal if the airline doesn’t offer one) in your carry-on bag. (You can carry insulin and other medical liquids as needed. Click here to read more from the TSA about how to travel through security with your medication.)
  • If you need to inject insulin during a flight, be careful not to inject air into the bottle (the air on your plane probably will be pressurized).
  • On a road trip, be sure to protect your insulin from direct sunlight or sitting in a hot car (this goes for biking and hiking as well). Travel packs are one option to keep insulin cool.
  • If you are sitting for long periods, reduce your risk of blood clots by moving around every couple of hours.

When you get there

  • Check your blood glucose levels as soon as your arrive and often thereafter. Changes in time zones, what you eat and your activity level all can affect blood glucose.
  • Never go barefoot and protect your feet, especially from hot pavement and sand. Check your feet daily for blisters, cuts, redness and swelling.
  • Make sure to take snacks wherever you go, in case they aren’t available.

Both the American Diabetes Association and the federal Centers for Disease Control suggest that you talk with your health care provider before traveling.

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