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Don't let diabetes keep you home this summer: Tips for travel

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
How to plan a trip if you have diabetes

Summer is a time for family reunions and travel. How should you plan a trip if you have diabetes to make sure you stay safe and healthy?

The American Association of Diabetes Educators has tips for traveling that just requires organizing and pre-planning:

  • If you have an insulin pump ask your doctor for prescription to take with you in case your pump fails. You may want to consider asking your DME provider for a back-up pump also. Make sure you pack extra batteries for your pump.
  • Take more medications than you need. If you are going away for a week, take two weeks worth of medication.
  • Make sure you pack plenty of testing strips and lancets. You will also want to include an emergency kit with glucagon.
  • Carry your diabetes medications and supplies with you. If you are flying keep them in their original packing and separate from your toiletries to avoid delays by TSA. Tell security you have diabetes.
  • If you visit a foreign country learn to say "I have diabetes" and how to ask for sugar or orange juice in the language of the country your are visiting.
  • Take a list of your medications with you. You'll also want to list any emergency contacts and phone numbers in addition to your doctor's name and phone number. Carry a note from your doctor that states you are diabetic and include any other medical conditions you might have.
  • Find the nearest doctor that treats diabetes when you arrive at your destination. If you are traveling overseas you can access a list of English speaking doctors at http://www.iamat.org/
  • Move about frequently when traveling. If you're flying or even driving for extended periods, flex and point your feet frequently to avoid blood clots.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Consider compression socks if you are flying that can help prevent swelling. Check your feet often during you vacation.
  • Talk to your diabetes educator before you travel. You can learn more about how a diabetes educator can help with travel plans here.
  • Lastly, don't forget to take plenty of snacks in case of hypoglycemia. You might also want to take glucose gel or tablets on your trip. Keep peanut butter crackers, granola bars and trail mix handy to make sure your glucose levels don't dip too low.

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Here are some five extra tips for air travel if you have diabetes:

Traveling when you have diabetes means planning ahead and making sure you have needed supplies, snacks, comfortable shoes and socks, contact information for your doctor and plenty of medications and supplies that you you'll want to keep close at hand. Pre-planning and organizing can make travel easy whether you're going on a short trip or planning a flight to another country. Diabetes doesn't mean you shouldn't travel.

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Updated 5/28/2014



Good tips, thanks. I want to add something that was a life saver on my last trip to Rome. I lost my passport during the day and had no idea it was missing. Fortunately, I had a tracer tag on it. A waiter where I ate lunch found it and entered my tracker number on the website. I was automatically sent a text message (and an email) with a pickup location before I ever even knew my passport was missing. Lucky for me, I was leaving in the morning for Germany and getting a new passport would have been impossible. Tags are available through mystufflostandfound.com That tag saved my trip from total disaster and I put them on my phone, laptop and almost everything that travels with me now.