traveling with diabetes

Bon Voyage: 8 Tips for Managing Diabetes While You’re Traveling

Traveling is one of the best pleasures of life. It’s a chance to get away from the day to day norm, experience different cultures, and learn a few things about yourself, too.

But for the almost 30 million people living with diabetes, there are a few extra steps that go into planning a vacation and getting the most out of it. Diabetics have to carefully consider how all the travel time and different foods/climates are going to affect their blood levels.

Whether they’re going on a quick road trip or flying across the country, they need to track and maintain insulin levels every step of the way. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process, though!

The best way to figure out traveling with diabetes is to start planning your trip and making the right arrangements well ahead of time. As you do so, use the following tips to make sure you have the best experience possible.

1. Stock Up on Prescriptions and Medication

This is one of the most important parts of traveling with diabetes. At the very minimum, you need to make sure you have enough insulin and medications to last you from the first day of your trip to the last.

However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack extra, especially if you’re going to be far from home. You never know if a flight is going to get delayed or if your travel plans get extended unexpectedly. If you have the opportunity to stay on vacation a little longer, or if your journey home gets prolonged, you need to be prepared.

Keep in mind that while traveling overseas or for particularly long periods of time, you may need to stock up on medication while away from home. You’ll need a doctor’s note and a prescription to do this. Travel insurance will be a big help, too.

2. Keep Everything with You

Imagine if you took so much time to get everything prepared only for your luggage to be lost or some of your medication to spill. There’s a slim chance of these things happening, but they’re definitely possible.

As such, it’s better if you just keep everything with you. Don’t let your medications out of your sight as you’re going through airports and train stations. If you’re taking a charter bus somewhere, bring your medication to your seat instead of packing it down below with the rest of the luggage.

This makes access to your medication a lot easier whenever you need it.

3. Figure Out How You’re Going to Adjust Insulin

This is one of the trickier parts of traveling with diabetes. Say you live in an area that’s on Central Time Zone and your final destination is in Mountain Time or Eastern Time. Maybe you’re even going to the opposite side of the world.

Between the time you spend in the air, waiting out layovers, and adjusting to your new destination, you have to adjust your insulin. This is tricky to do as you figure out your eating schedule and sleeping schedule, especially when jumping a lot of time zones.

Thankfully, you don’t have to figure out your adjustments on your own. Talk to your doctor about a month or so before your trip and be specific about your flight itinerary and your overall travel plans. Your doctor will put you on an adjusted diabetes management plan that you can start following before your trip begins so that the actual day of travel goes smoothly.

4. Make Sure Your Hotel Has the Right Amenities

Although it’s a good idea to keep everything with you when you’re en-route to your final destination, you need a place to put all your medications once you arrive.

Check and double check that your hotel has a fridge in your room, even if it’s just a mini-fridge. If it’s not included with your room, call the hotel ahead of time, explain your situation, and see if they can bring one up for you. Most places are willing to do this free of charge.

5. Find the Nearest Pharmacy

Another thing you want to check is the distance to the nearest pharmacy.

This is important for trips on which you know you’re going to need to restock and on journeys when you think you have everything covered. Having your go-to vacation pharmacy figured out makes it much easier to handle an emergency if one occurs.

6. Pace Your Eating and Levels of Activity

Insulin isn’t the only thing that maintains healthy blood levels. As much as you need to stay on track with your medications, you also need to pace your eating and levels of activity. Always keep a granola bar or some dried fruit on you in case you need a sugar spike.

More so, make sure you’re not exhausting yourself every day. Take your time to slow down, eat right, and watch your alcohol intake, too. All it takes is one or two extra drinks to set your blood levels off.

7. Learn the Local Lingo

What happens if you need sugar and you don’t have a snack on you? How are you supposed to get medical attention if you don’t know how to ask for help?

These are just a few reasons why you should learn a bit of the local language when going on vacation. You don’t need to become completely fluent. But, a few basics regarding your diabetes can be the difference between getting the help you need right away or having a bad situation become even worse.

8. Carry a Doctor’s Note

Last but not least, always carry a doctor’s note.

This applies to domestic and international travel. Doctor’s notes verify that you actually need the insulin you say you do, and it helps pharmacies figure out what kind of diabetes you have.

Without this information, the process to get you what you need would be much longer. Not to mention, some places may not even give you your medication if they don’t have information from your doctor.

Traveling with Diabetes Made Simple

Here’s the #1 thing you have to keep in mind when traveling with diabetes: failing to plan is planning to fail. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a quick 2-hour flight or flying for 8+ hours overseas, planning is everything.

Make a list of all the medications you need, the emergency contacts, and always have snacks ready to go. For more planning tips to use while you’re away, click here.