Travelling with diabetes can seem like a hassle – but it doesn’t have to be. With these travel with diabetes tips and checklist, the job is half done.
Summer is here, and although you may feel like there’s a lot to consider when you have diabetes and want to go on a holiday – whether it’s a short drive away or a long flight – there’s no reason to stay at home. Travel with diabetes takes some planning but it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.
1 Plan to Be Spontaneous
Although people with diabetes are told time and time again that they should try to keep a routine, it’s not always easy (or desirable) when going on a holiday. If you do some planning beforehand, however, you’re able to let go of some of your routines on your time off – which is kind of the purpose, right?
Bring extra strips, insulin, chocolate bars etc. for unexpected blood sugar changes. Take the time changes into consideration and adjust your schedule accordingly. You don’t want to forget about your diabetes or stop taking care of it, but if you plan for it, there’s room for freedom.
A good way to keep track of your diabetes during your time off is by using an app to do the work for you. Find one that keeps track of your carb intake, blood sugar and preferably can give you insulin recommendations (it should be CE marked). There are a lot on the market, but we recommend our own Hedia – Diabetes Assistant. That way you don’t have to do all the calculations yourself, but you can let the app do all the hard work.
2 Prepare What to Pack
It’s always a good idea to plan your packing before a holiday, but with diabetes, you need to plan a little extra. You may know exactly how much insulin you need during your daily routine, but going on a holiday it’s a good idea to pack extra – especially if you’re going on a long journey or to a foreign place.
Plan for worst-case scenarios: What if the destination only serves a high carb diet? What if you can’t find a high carb snack if you go low? What happens if you get into an accident?
A few weeks ahead you should make sure you have a doctor’s note that allows you to carry your medicine and that you have enough for your entire trip (and then some) – and that you have a cold place to store it. You should also get your travel insurance in place if you’re going abroad. Sometimes you need to see a doctor to document that your blood glucose is stable before leaving.
3 Pack the Most Important Items in Your Carry-On
If you’re flying you should keep your essentials in your cabin bag. That way you won’t get stuck somewhere without your meds in case your checked luggage gets lost. This includes medicine for your entire trip, strips, test equipment and anything else you might need to treat your diabetes during and after your journey.
4 Make Sure People Around You Know What to Do In Case of Emergency
Make sure your travel companion(s) know exactly what to do in case of an emergency. Do they know what they should do if you go into insulin shock? A lot of people think you should give insulin if a type 1 diabetic gets into insulin shock. Make sure they know to give you a snack – maybe even have them pack one in their day bag.
If you travel alone, make sure you have an identifier on you that tells people that you have diabetes and what to do (in English and the local language). Also let the cabin crew, hotel personnel etc. know if you’re comfortable with telling them.
5 Keep Your Diabetes Under Control
Having time off is wonderful and you should enjoy it. However, you should still keep your diabetes under control during your holiday to not worsen your condition once you come home. You can still remain in control even though you’re eating an extra burger or drinking a few beers. Just be honest with yourself when you log it. That way you can get the right care and maintain a healthy life with diabetes.
Checklist: Before You Travel Remember to:
- Bring health insurance (+ the European Health Insurance Card)
- Check the expiration date on your insulin and strips
- Bring a medical certificate in case of emergency
- Bring enough medicine and testing equipment to cover your entire vacation
- Bring extra blood glucose monitors, if your preferred BGM gets lost
- Make sure that your medicine will not be exposed to cold and heat influences (consider bringing a cooling bag or thermo cup for your insulin)
- Brief the people around you
- Bring a card with the name of diabetes in the local language.
What is Hedia and How do We Know so Much About Diabetes?
Hedia was founded by Peter Lucas, who has diabetes. When he was diagnosed, he wanted to continue to live his life as he had before – but he needed an assistant. That’s why he built Hedia – Diabetes Assistant, which is currently available for iPhone (soon for Android as well). Hedia helps you control your blood glucose levels based on three key factors:
1) Your current glucose level,
2) the number of carbs you’re about to eat and
3) the insulin recommendations it gives you.
Hedia stands for Health + Diabetes and we aim to make life with diabetes easier for you. You can use it with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and it’s free! Download Hedia here.
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