20 Tips to Stay Happy and Healthy While Traveling with Diabetes
If you are planning to hit the road, some advance preparation can help ensure a healthy, smooth, and enjoyable trip when traveling with diabetes. Whether you are planning travel by plane, train, boat, or automobile, these tips can help you prepare for your vacation.
Connect with Your Healthcare Team
1. Talk to your healthcare provider: Before planning a vacation that involves more physical activity than usual, check that it is OK for you. Request copies of your prescriptions to bring with you.
2. Use your wellness+ for Diabetes resources: Consult a diabetes specialist or Rite Aid Pharmacist online, on the phone, or in person if you have questions.
3. Make sure you are up to date on your immunizations: Check Rite Aid Vaccine Central before traveling.
Pack Diabetic Travel Supplies and Prep Smart
4. Have your medicines and supplies accessible: Put your medicines, glucose meter, and test strips in your carry-on luggage so they are available in case you need them. Store medicines in clear plastic bags and keep all prescriptions with their original labels, if possible. Having medicines and supplies on you is important in case something happens to your checked baggage or it is exposed to extreme heat or cold.
5. Pack extra medication: When traveling with diabetes, it's imporant to calculate the length of your trip and how much oral or injectable medication you will need. Consider doubling or even tripling what you might need just in case there are unexpected events or trip delays.
6. Bring cold storage: Bring a small insulin cooler to store your medication and be aware of temperature extremes. For example, use a cold pack rather than an ice pack and don’t store extra insulin in a glove compartment in the extreme heat.
7. Stock up on packable snacks: Small packages of dried fruits, trail mix, and peanut butter crackers are good choices.
8. Stay hydrated: Bring an empty water bottle that you can fill from a drinking fountain after you go through airport security.
9. Check on special screening practices: See the Transportation Security Administration site (http://www.tsa.gov/) or call TSA Cares: 1-855-787-2227 or check your airport website to find out what you can bring through security checkpoints. Once you arrive at the airport, tell security if you are traveling with liquid or gel medicines or syringes or if you have an insulin pump.
10. Don’t forget foot care. Avoid going barefoot, make sure you bring comfortable shoes, and check your feet each day for blisters or irritation.
Have a Plan and a Stress-free Schedule
11. Stick to your schedule: Don’t let travel schedules disrupt your self-care routines. Eat at your regular times and check your blood sugar at your regular times.
12. Avoid stress, which can affect blood sugar: Allow plenty of time to get to your destination and time to check your blood sugar or have a snack during delays or layovers.
13. Know what affects blood sugar: Changes in what you eat, physical activity, sleep, and time zone can all affect your glucose levels. You may want to check your blood sugar more often while you are away.
14. Have diabetic travel supplies and a plan for spikes or dips in blood sugar: Keep rapid-acting carbohydrates, glucose tablets, or glucose gel on hand during your travel for possible drops in blood sugar. Ask your physician how to handle high blood sugar episodes before they occur.
15. Keep moving: If you are traveling by airplane, make sure you move around every hour or two to avoid blood clots, and if you are traveling by car or bus, take brief walking breaks. You can improve blood flow in your calf muscles (back part of your lower leg) by pointing and flexing your ankles.
Prepare for Emergency
16. Have numbers and insurance info handy: Bring phone numbers of your healthcare provider, diabetes educator, and Rite Aid Pharmacist. Bring your health insurance card with you.
17. Identify yourself as having diabetes: Tell a travel companion, carry documentation from your physician, or wear an ID bracelet that identifies you as having diabetes.
18. Know how your hotel can help: If you need medical care while traveling, ask your hotel to recommend a local doctor who treats diabetes.
If You Are Going to Another Country…
19. Learn key words: Jot down key words in the foreign language for reference, such as diabetes, insulin, blood sugar, and orange juice.
20. Get a list of English-speaking doctors: Before you go, print out a list from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers: www.iamat.org
“Have Diabetes? Get Tips for Safe Travels.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesandtravel/
“Diabetes Travel Tips Video.” National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP). http://ndep.nih.gov/resources/resourcedetail.aspx?resid=374
“Air Travel and Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/know-your-rights/discrimination/public-accommodations/air-travel-and-diabetes/