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15 Tips for Travelling with Diabetes

For travellers living with diabetes there are additional considerations when planning a holiday. It’s important to ensure your holiday is enjoyable, safe and healthy. The weather, time zones, length of transit time and access to meals all need to be taken into consideration. Carrying your supplies also requires preparation and research.

Here are 15 tips to assist with your planning if you’re travelling with diabetes

  1. Carry a letter from your doctor with your personal details including information on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a list of all medications and the insulin delivery devices (syringes, insulin pens or pumps) you use. The letter should include details about your blood glucose monitoring equipment and why you must carry it with you at all times. Have more than one copy of this information and give one to your travel companion (if you have one) for safe keeping.
  2. You need to travel with your insulin and other medication in their original packaging and carry your original prescriptions with you.
  3. Work out how long you’ll be travelling and ensure you have more than you are likely to need. If possible pack spare blood glucose meter in case of loss or damage.
  4. If you are travelling with an insulin pump, make sure you have a back up option. Speak with your doctor about a plan should your insulin pump break down.
  5. Travel with hypo treatments with you. Carry some form of easily absorbed carbohydrate such as juice cartons, glucose tablets/gels or lollies. Carry them in multiple locations including your suitcase, carry on bag, your handbag or backpack.
  6. You can order a meal from the airline that suits your particular way of eating – some people choose a “diabetic meal” but this may or may not be the best choice for your needs.
  7. Don’t rely solely on airline food. Travel with your own snacks including fruit, crackers and other snack foods.
  8. Carry any sharps in a clear, sealable plastic bag so they are available for security inspection. Pen needles, blood glucose monitors and medications should be stored in your hand luggage.
  9. Insulin should be carried in your hand luggage to avoid potential loss and to ensure it is kept at a good temperature. A small esky may be taken on board for medication but make sure you keep the doctor’s letter with it for travel.
  10. Discuss with your doctor the best plan of action if your travel includes a change of time zone. Your doctor can advise the best way to adjust your medication to this.
  11. Wearing some identification which identifies you have diabetes will make life easier and safer.
  12. Research food at your destination and do some preplanning around appropriate meals so this doesn’t cause you stress on arrival.
  13. Be aware the changes in activity, routine, stress or excitement may affect your blood glucose levels.
  14. Travel insurance is essential. You must declare your diabetes as an existing medical condition.
  15. If, despite taking all precautions, you find yourself short on supplies or with lost supplies, visit a hospital emergency department. Alternatively, contact a local diabetes organisation in the city you are visiting and enquire about obtaining supplies.
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