Traveling with Diabetes


While you’re having a great time on your holiday, if you have diabetes you need to continue your monitoring and care routine.

Having meals later or more irregularly than usual, time zone changes and the heat of tropical countries can all affect how well you manage your blood sugar levels. Before you hit the road, have a look at some of these suggestions click here for info.

The Heat of Summer or the Tropics

Heat can affect your blood glucose (sugar) levels and also increase the absorption of some fast-acting insulin, meaning you will need to test your blood glucose more often and perhaps adjust your intake of insulin, food and liquids.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water (always bottled or boiled if in less developed countries!), to avoid dehydration. Avoid sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices.
  • Check the product information in your boxes of medications to learn when high temperatures can affect them.
  • If you’re traveling with insulin pens or vials, don’t store them in direct sunlight or in a hot vehicle. Keep it in a cooler if possible, but do not place it directly on ice or on a gel pack to avoid freezing it.
  • Check glucose meter and test strip packages for information on use during times of high heat and humidity. Do not leave them in a hot car, by a pool or on the beach.
  • Heat can damage insulin pumps and other equipment. Do not leave the disconnected pump or supplies in the direct sun.
  • Undertake physical activity in air-conditioned areas, or exercise outside early or late in the day, during cooler temperatures.
Don’t Forget Your Medication
  • Take more medication than you would expect to need, in case of travel delays or lost luggage.
  • Keep snacks, glucose gel, or tablets with you in case you have a ‘hypo’. If you use insulin, speak to your Doctor before you go about taking a glucagon kit; this is an injection that can e given in case of a more severe drop in blood sugar.
  • Carry medical identification that says you have diabetes.
  • Keep time zone changes in mind so you’ll know when to take medication.
  • Keep all insulin in the original pharmacy labeled packaging. Get a letter from your Doctor stating you need to take syringes or insulin pens with you.
  • Take copies of prescriptions with you.
In the Air
  • Place all diabetes supplies in carry-on luggage in case checked in luggage goes missing. Keep medications and snacks at your seat for easy access.
  • If a meal will be served during your flight, call ahead for a diabetic, low fat, or low cholesterol meal. Wait until your food is about to be served before you take your insulin.
  • Make sure to pack snacks in case of flight delays.
  • Reduce your risk for blood clots by moving around every hour or two.
  • More Info on using insulin pumps during flight here.
Staying Healthy
  • Changes in what you eat, activity levels and time zones can affect your blood glucose. Check levels often. Stick with your exercise routine. Make sure to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
  • Protect your feet. Be especially careful of hot pavement by pools. Wet or sweaty feet are more prone to tinea as well; consider taking an anti fungal cream such as Lamisil with you.
  • Make sure you have all the vaccinations you need for your destination.

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