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Diabetes and Travel: 6 Tips for a Great Trip

July 17, 2019

Are you planning a summer vacation with the family? If you have diabetes, even preparing for daily activities can require advanced planning. A lot depends on where you’re going and for how long. A week of backpacking in the mountains takes different planning than a week at the beach. If upcoming summer travel plans may disrupt your daily routine, follow these tips for traveling when you have diabetes.   

Keep your supplies. When traveling, make sure your diabetes supplies are easily accessible. “You may want to consider increasing your amount of supplies in case of emergencies,” advises Yassin Mustafa, MD, with Kettering Physician Network Endocrinology and Diabetes, located on the campus of Southview Medical Center in Centerville. “If you’re flying, be sure to put all of your supplies in your carry-on bags and check your airline’s screening policies so you know what to expect at the security checkpoint.”

Stick to your routine. Traveling can really throw you off schedule, especially when flights are delayed or you’re traveling out of your time zone. Anticipate possible travel hiccups so you can stick to your routine as much as possible. “Checking your blood glucose while traveling is as important as when you are at home,” Dr. Mustafa says. “Check your blood glucose as soon as possible after landing. Jet lag can make it hard to tell if you have very low or very high blood glucose.”

Get documentation. Dr. Mustafa advises that you carry a note from your doctor stating that you have diabetes and need to have your medication with you at all times. If you’re going to a country where most people speak a language other than your own, translate the note into that language. If you have diabetes and use insulin, be sure to carry your medical ID with you at all times.

Always be prepared to treat low glucose. “With changes in schedule and activities,” says Dr. Mustafa, “you need to be prepared for low glucose whenever it strikes, so pack plenty of glucose tablets. These are usually the best for travel because they won’t melt, explode in heat or leak and become sticky.”

Consider time zone changes. If you’re wearing an insulin pump and will be traveling to a location in another time zone, be sure to adjust your insulin pump’s clock to reflect the change. “If you have questions about how to handle the change, talk with your diabetes care team beforehand,” suggests Dr. Mustafa.

Tell others that you have diabetes. “It’s important to let the people you’re traveling with know you have diabetes,” Dr. Mustafa advises. “Let them know what you have to do to stay healthy and active on your journey, and what they should do in case there is an emergency.”

For more information on managing your diabetes, visit our diabetes and nutrition page.