Going on a vacation or traveling for business when you have diabetes requires planning ahead. Any changes in meal patterns, types of foods available, activity levels and time zones can affect your blood glucose levels.
Here’s what to do.
Before you leave
- Research healthcare services along the way and nearby your stops and destination in case you need medical attention.
- If you’re traveling out of the country to somewhere that requires vaccination shots, get them 3 to 4 weeks before you go. Some of these shots can upset your blood sugar level, so keep a close eye out and call your doctor if you have any concerns.
Checklist of important items to bring on your trip
- A medical identification bracelet or card that states you have diabetes
- A list of your current medications, doses and times you take them.
- Write your doctor’s name and phone number, and the names and phone numbers of at least 2 emergency contacts on the same sheet
- A letter from your doctor confirming that you need to carry syringes and other supplies with you at all times.
- Pack your medications, syringes (if on insulin), and blood sugar testing supplies in your carry-on bag or case. Do not check your supplies—they can get damaged or lost, and you may need them during your flight. And don’t worry—security scanners will not damage your supplies.
- A glucagon pen (if you use one)
- Some fast-acting sugars (glucose tabs, raisins, and glucose gel) in case your blood sugar drops too low
- Healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar stable throughout your travel day
Tips for hassle-free travel
- Tell security you have diabetes and that you’re carrying medical supplies.
- Make sure all your medical supplies have the original manufacturer’s label on them.
- If you’re wearing an insulin pump, tell security. They will inspect the meter—but be sure to ask them not to remove the insulin pump.
- You can carry syringes on board as long as you also have insulin with you. Here’s what you need to do: Store insulin at room temperature. Avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold.
- In hot temperatures, keep insulin in an insulated bag or cooler.
- In cold temperatures, keep insulin close to your body, or in an insulated bag to keep it from freezing.
Take care of your feet
Travel usually means more time standing. Here are some tips to help you keep your feet healthy on the go.
- On your travel day, wear comfortable shoes that fit well and give your toes room to wiggle
- Be sure all the shoes you pack are comfy
- Wear pool and beach shoes to protect your feet by the pool, in the ocean, and for walks on the beach or sightseeing
- Avoid going barefoot
- Be sure to follow your daily foot-care regimen
Diabetes shouldn’t keep you from doing all of the things you enjoy. And you can travel successfully if you plan ahead. Talk to your healthcare team to create a travel plan that works for you.