By: Jen Blackstock
“Don’t leave home without it” has a whole new meaning this holiday season. With holiday travel up from last year and increased security- and consequent delays- at airports, it’s more important than ever for those with diabetes to properly prepare for their holiday travel.
The National Diabetes Education Program is helping with those preparations. Their document Have Diabetes. Will Travel is full of important information for traveling with diabetes. Says Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N, “Diabetes doesn’t take a holiday, so remember to plan ahead when traveling. Stay as close as possible to your usual blood testing routine and test more often if you’re changing time zones. Planning where to test will reduce stress and help improve blood sugar control.”
Here is a quick review of the tips presented by the National Diabetes Education Program.
● Double the amount of diabetes medicine and supplies you might need and put it in your carry-on luggage.
● Be prepared for a low; pack healthy snacks and extra glucose gel or tablets.
● Check to see if a healthy meal is going to be available. If not, bring your own.
● Remember that meals may not be served at times that match your usual schedule, so keep snacks that will not spoil in your carry-on bag (to help avoid unhealthy food choices and long waiting lines at station or airport restaurants)
● Always bring your medical insurance card and know an emergency number to call, just in case.
● Wear medical identification.
● Try to tell at least one person you’re traveling with about your diabetes and explain the symptoms of a low blood sugar reaction (sweating, dizziness, confusion).
● If traveling alone, tell a flight attendant or conductor that you have diabetes.
● Bring at least one if not two glucagon kits if you use insulin, and pack insulated bags and blue ice to keep insulin cool.
● Don’t leave medications in the trunk or glove compartment where they can heat up.
● Avoid going barefoot, even in the shower or pool.
● Move around every one to two hours to increase comfort and reduce risk for blood clots.
● Keep your diabetes medicines with you, and don’t store them in an overhead bin.
● If flying, don’t inject air into the insulin bottle before drawing up your dose. The air is pressurized.
● Get your ticket and seat early to prevent bumping.
● If traveling internationally:
○ Be careful about food safety when traveling in some countries.
○ Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
○ Drink bottled water with no ice.
○ Eat only cooked vegetables and fresh fruit that can be peeled.
○ Consume only pasteurized dairy foods.
○ Don’t eat food from street vendors.
Also, be prepared for increased wait times and scrutiny at most airports this holiday season, now that the new TSA security guidelines are in place. Have a game plan and be sure to thoroughly read the TSA’s website for the latest information specific to traveling with a medical condition at TSA.gov.