Traveling with Diabetes

People living with diabetes should travel with utmost care, as changes in meal patterns, activity levels, and even time zones can affect their blood sugar levels.  Keep in mind these helpful reminders to make traveling with diabetes easier.

Preparation – Before traveling, make sure to consult with your health care provider and discuss your travel plans.  Have immunization shots three to four weeks before you travel.  You should also inform the airline in advance about your condition.  Pack twice as many supplies needed to travel, as well as extra prescriptions and a letter from your doctor stating that you have diabetes.  Take note of what health facilities are available in your destination, just in case.

What to bring – For starters, bring a piece of paper containing your doctor’s name and phone number as well as a list of current medicines.  Keep your medicines, syringes, blood sugar testing supplies, all oral medications, and even something sweet in a carry-on luggage (never put them in your check-in luggage).  Make sure to bring enough medicines and medical supplies to last an extra week in case you get stranded.  A sugar source is needed in case you develop hypoglycemia.

At the airport – Always inform security that you are diabetic and that you are carrying medical supplies.  If you are wearing an insulin pump, request to security that the meter not be removed.  Also, check out the Transportation Security Administration website to see what you can take on board.

Insulin injections while traveling – Taking insulin injections while in an airplane has one difference:  put only half as much air into your insulin bottle as you normally to prevent the plunger of the needle from resisting your efforts to inject air into the insulin bottle.  Keep your insulin in temperature between 33 degrees F and 80 degrees F.  Do not freeze or expose your insulin to direct sunlight.  You also need to adjust your insulin dosage when crossing time zones, taking shots every four hours until your body has adjusted.

Foot care while traveling – Pack at least two pairs of shoes so you can change foot wear often.  This prevents blisters and sore pressure points.  Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and socks.  Bring a first-aid kit in case you suffer minor foot injuries.  Never go barefoot or wear open-toe shoes and sandals, instead wear special foot wear made for ocean or beach walking.

Coping with emergency – In case an emergency occurs and you do not know where to go, try contacting the American consulate, the Red Cross, or a local medical school.  Learn phrases in the local language like "I need help" or "I have diabetes, where is the hospital" or "I need sugar."

Source:  Web MD