Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to skip out on traveling the world. Whether you’re heading out on a trip for business or for pleasure, you deserve to get out there and see all the wonderful sights across the globe. We have some great tips you should definitely keep in mind to ensure your diabetes stays under control so that you can have a fun and memorable trip.
1. Pack Extra Supplies
You can never have enough supplies when you’re traveling, and the more you bring with you the better. If you’re traveling by airplane, it’s always best to keep all of your necessary items in your carry-on luggage as opposed to checking it in. This way, you can have your insulin, infusion sets, syringes, and any other supplies within close proximity during the flight. It’s advisable to pack twice as much of each item just in case you run out or lose something during your vacation.
2. Call Ahead of Time for a Mini-Fridge
If you’ll be staying in a hotel, there’s the possibility that your room won’t be equipped with a mini-fridge. To keep your insulin from spoiling in warm conditions, you’ll need to call the hotel’s front desk ahead of time to let them know you’ll need a fridge in your room for medical purposes. In most cases, they’ll have one waiting for you free of charge, but some hotels will actually charge you for it, so don’t be surprised if you see an extra $25-$50 added on to your bill when you checkout.
3. Discuss Your Plans With Your Doctor
Before you jet off on your adventure, it’s always best to book an appointment with your doctor beforehand. This way, you’ll be sure that your health is in tip-top shape and you have prescriptions for all the medicine you may need during your time away from home. If you’ll be traveling by air, your doctor can also provide you with a medical note, confirming you’re allowed to carry your stock of syringes, needles, and supplies.
4. Don’t Forget Your Medical Bracelet
Whether you’re traveling alone or not, wearing a medical bracelet at all times can save your life if you’re facing a health crisis. These specially-made bracelets or necklaces will contain your name, address, important phone numbers, and your health condition in case of an emergency.
5. Stretch Those Legs
If you’re traveling by plane, you’ll notice it’s pretty cramped in the aircraft, and there isn’t much room for you to get up and stretch. But you should definitely make it a priority to walk around as much as you can. Those with diabetes have a higher chance of developing blood clots after sitting for long periods of time, so choose an aisle seat and keep those legs in motion! If you’ll be traveling by car, stopping frequently will allow you to stretch, move around, and get some fresh air!
6. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat
It’s always best to play it safe with your food choices, especially if you’ll be visiting restaurants you’ve never eaten at before. You can research the menus of the establishments you plan to visit or give them a call and ask them about alternative food options they may have available. If you prefer to wait until you actually visit your restaurant of choice, don’t hesitate to ask your server about alternative low-carb and low-sugar menu items. They’ll be more than glad to help you!
7. Don’t Ignore Time Zone Changes
If you wear an insulin pump, you’ll want to have it reprogrammed to adjust to time zone changes. It’s crucial that the insulin is administered at a specific time, so speak to your doctor if you need any help with adjusting your pump’s internal computer.
8. Give Travel Companions a Heads Up
If you’ll be traveling with friends, a companion, or co-workers, it’s always best to make them aware of your diabetes ahead of time. Letting them know the signs of low or high blood glucose, as well as what they can do in the event that your health is in danger can make you feel more at ease during your trip. And, of course, it’s always good to know there’s someone around who will always have your back!
9. Pack Some Snacks
Airports have a variety of restaurants and snack stands where you can stock up on food items before you board your flight. To keep blood sugar under control, healthy, raw fruits; juice; nuts; and veggies will always come in handy.
10. Test Your Blood Sugar Frequently
You’ll probably be having a ball while sightseeing and exploring your destination, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your diabetes. Be sure to get some physical activity in throughout your stay, and it’s really important to test your glucose levels throughout the day. By ensuring your blood sugar levels aren’t running too high or too low, you can manage the problem right away before it puts a damper on your trip.
11. Stay Hydrated and Limit Alcohol
Traveling is the one time people forget to get their recommended servings of water. But as a diabetic, staying hydrated should be your top priority. Whenever you visit a restaurant, make sure you always order a glass of water to go along with your meal, and keeping bottles of water in your hotel room will come in handy to quench your thirst, as well. You might want to partake in some alcohol during your trip, and that’s fine and all, but keep in mind that alcohol can cause you to become even more dehydrated, so make sure to replenish by drinking a glass of water in between sips of your favorite alcoholic beverage.
12. Pack a Loaner Insulin Pump
No matter how careful you are, accidents are bound to happen. But one accident you never want to experience is damaging your insulin pump when you’re miles away from home. If you’ll be going on a long trip or traveling to a remote location, packing a loaner pump is a must. Companies, such as Medtronic, have a Travel Loaner Program that will provide you with a backup pump for a small fee. When you return home safe and sound, you just send the loaner back to them and you’re good to go!
13. Utilize Social Media Hashtags
Social media is an excellent tool for those in the diabetes community who love to travel. If you ever run into a problem when you’re away from home and you need to find a suitable doctor or you need additional supplies, you can hashtag #diabetes along with your location on your Twitter or Instagram post, and someone with diabetes may be able to help you out. Of course, this shouldn’t be your main method for seeking out help, but it’s a great backup plan if you’re in a non-life threatening situation.
14. Carry Glucose Tablets
If you’re traveling to a different country where there’s a language barrier, it may prove difficult when you’re on the hunt for more medication. So packing more than enough glucose tablets can eliminate the risk of hypoglycemia. You’ll find that when you’ve packed properly and you’re well-prepared with a surplus of extra tablets, you’ll feel more at ease throughout your trip.
15. Bring Along Your Basal Rates
And last but not least, to make sure your trip is pleasant and enjoyable, be sure to take note of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) prior to leaving town. This low rate of insulin supply needed to control your glucose and amino acid uptake should be written down and kept in a safe place where you know you won’t lose it. If your pump starts to malfunction during your trip, you can program your loaner with all of your BMR without having to get the information from your doctor’s office back in your hometown.