Taking Diabetes on the Road

Summer is synonymous with travel; family vacations, reunions, weddings, you name it. It seems like we all find some reason to hit the road during the summer months.

I for one will be crisscrossing this country all summer, visiting diabetes camps and patient programs, much of the time with Baby Ava in tow. There will even be a few stops across “The Pond” for a diabetes meeting or two.

With all of this travel, there is almost a 100 percent chance that some sort of diabetes drama will occur.

To help us better deal with diabetes and travel, here are some lists that I use to make traveling a little easier. Some of this information has been learned the hard way.

Diabetes in and of itself is a challenge; diabetes on the road is a double challenge. Remember, though, nothing is impossible. It is best summed up by the phrase “No one plans to fail—we just fail to plan.” The secret to safe, enjoyable travel is preparation and confidence.

Have a great summer and a healthy and safe season of travel.

Here are the things that are in my bags at this moment:

In my hand luggage/carry-on bag

  • An unopened bottle of insulin
  • A new package of test strips
  • One extra set of pump supplies
  • A new syringe in case emergency shots are needed
  • A full bottle of glucose tablets
  • A juice box
  • Eyedrops, for dry eyes related to high glucose
  • My cell phone (I call my husband each time I have a low)
  • Photocopies of all my prescriptions
  • My medical ID bracelet and identification card
  • Spare batteries for my pump and meter
  • A granola or meal-replacement bar

In my checked luggage

  • More test strips (two to three times more than I think I will need)
  • More insulin pump supplies (two to three times more than I think I will need)
  • Heavy plastic bags for carrying sharps, sharps disposal and test strip disposal
  • Extra packages of glucose tablets or candies
  • Granola bars or some other healthy meal replacements or snacks
  • Extra juice boxes
  • Tennis shoes

More Travel Tips

  • Do not use fancy pillboxes made of metal; they set off the alarms and cause security personnel at airports to fret.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes in airports.
  • Do not wear your pump in a disguised location.
  • Do not pull out syringes at the security station in the airport—take my word for it on this one!
  • Do not take off your pump to go through the X-ray machine (another long story).
  • Use a large carry-on or shoulder bag when touring and vacationing.
  • Always carry double the amount of snacks you would normally need; your activity level is up and your stress level is down, which often cause low-glucose reactions.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Always stay at hotels with 24-hour food service.

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