8 Tips for Traveling With Diabetes
Oct 3, 2012 (updated May 17, 2014)
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It's summertime, and that means vacations, blistering heat, and long lines at airport security. If you have diabetes, your travel plans should include special consideration for what you'll need to stay healthy and happy.
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Depending on your level of organization, you may be used to packing at the last minute, but unlike other necessitites, diabetes supplies can't always be picked up at your point of destination. That means it's more important for you to approach vacation packing with a plan. A few weeks before your trip make out a list of everything you'll need, paying particular attention to the meds you'll need.
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A good rule of thumb is to take twice as much medication, syringes, and other diabetes testing supplies as you think you need. This gives you a cushion in case there's an emergency that prevents you from getting home.
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Consider the climate
Many meds--especially insulin--need to be protected from heat. If you'll be traveling to a hot climate take care to pack your medications in a case that can be easily carried so they don't stay in a hot car. Many hotel chains also offer small portable refrigerators for medication storage, if needed.
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See your doctor in advance
For longer trips, such as overseas vacation, cruises, or cross-country trips, your planning process should include a visit to your doctor. She can make sure your diabetes is currently well-managed, and give you copies of your prescriptions to take with you.
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Carry it on
Pack your medications and supplies in a carry-on bag, rather than packing them in checked luggage, in case your luggage is lost. Syringes can be carried on board as long as you have insulin, and you can go through security checkpoints wearing a insulin pump if you tell TSA officials about it. For a full list of facts about traveling by air with diabetes, download this fact sheet.
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Let's face it, finding healthy food choices while traveling takes a Herculean effort. Carrying along your own healthy snacks will go a long way toward making sure you eat regularly without having to devote too much time to scouting restaurants, airports, and rest stops for food.
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Time zones matter
If you'll be crossing time zones you'll need to consider your medication schedule before you go. If you'll be traveling overseas and don't want to tackle it by yourself, ask your doctor or diabetes educator if they can help you figure out how to time your injections while you're traveling.
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Don't forget your feet
Take extra care with your feet while you're gone. Experts say you should never go barefoot--even on a beach--since small shells and other sharp objects can cause cuts that lead to infection. If you'll be doing a lot of sightseeing, take enough shoes so that you can change them several times per day.