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How To Travel With Diabetes

By Nina Nazor

Plan your trip with your doctor

First of all, visit your doctor before you go on a trip so that he or she can help you design a specific treatment plan for you. Take into account how many days you'll be away, what you'll be doing at what time of day, and what food you'll eat. If you are on insulin, plan for time differences and synchronize your injections accordingly.

Also, if you plan to travel outside the country, you might need to have some vaccinations about a month beforehand.

You should also get a letter from your doctor stating you have diabetes as well as prescriptions for all the medications and supplies you need and are taking with you or that you may need to get in the place you’re going to.

Respect the rules established by the relevant authorities

In the United States, you have to notify air transport safety inspectors or personnel in advance that you will be traveling with items used for the treatment of diabetes. The insulin or pills you take with you, as well as the lancets, syringes, and monitors must be visible and clearly labeled, and the items must all be in their original packaging. You will also have to present the letter and prescriptions you obtain from your doctor.

What to take with you:

•  Two glucose monitors, packed in different suitcases in case you lose one.
•  Syringes, lancets, strips, and enough medications in case of an emergency or if your trip ends up being longer than you expect.
•  All the medications you might need, with the corresponding prescriptions.
•  Some form of easily carried sugar, such as candy, glucose tablets or gel, or sugared soft drinks to prevent or treat hypoglycemia.
•  Snacks such as granola bars, crackers or sandwiches. But take into account that you can’t take fresh food with you if you are traveling abroad.
•  A plan, drawn up by your doctor, of the steps to follow if you don't feel well during your trip.
•  Medications for controlling vomit or diarrhea and a small first-aid kit containing things like analgesics, band-aids, gauze, etc. Remember that any cut or infection must be treated immediately because it will raise your blood sugar. If it does not heal in a day or two, seek medical attention immediately, no matter where you are.
•  Medical insurance papers, if you have this kind of insurance. Also make sure you have the relevant details regarding whom to contact in case of an emergency.
•  Your medical identification. It should state your name, which type of diabetes you have, the medication you use, and whom to contact in an emergency.
•  Pack everything you need for managing your diabetes in your carry-on luggage. In other words, always keep it with you.
If you take insulin:
•  Make sure the insulin is kept in thermally insulated bags, and take at least two special bags for carrying it.
•  Remember to always carry glucose gel or tablets with you in case of hypoglycemia.
•  If you walk a lot during the day, watch out for the symptoms of hypoglycemia, especially at night.
•  If you inject yourself with insulin on board the plane, remember that the cabin is pressurized, so you will have to be careful to get the dose right when you load the syringe.
If you control diabetes properly during your trip, you will enjoy it very much.

Finally, the last recommendation is: have fun!