Diabetes Summer Travel Gear: Carrying Bags and Purses

Patient Expert

Diabetes can be a drag on so many levels, but traveling can create the overwhelm to take the word vacation and turn it into hell, but not for the temperature Injectable insulin needs to be considered because it doesn't like heat and sun. Pumps can get cranky in heat and sun too, and meters can have their own form of a meltdown. But the advances of technology and diabetes products DO NOT have to hamper your summer plans. It just takes thinking it thru and finding the items needed to protect insulin, pumps, meters and the perfect bag to carry it all and make you smile for the camera!

So I thought I would make a list of must dos for traveling with diabetes, followed by my favorite travel bags.

Some Diabetes Must Dos:

  1. High heat doesn't mean you have to avoid the challenge! Hot weather, 80 degrees and above can pose some real challenges for testing supplies, insulin and you.

To start with anyone carrying injectible insulin should make the investment in a FRIO case.  The Frio cases are pouches that have panels that contain crystals and when submersed in water for 10-15 minutes, soften into a gel filling the pouch with a cooling effect for your insulin. Each pouch will hold an internal temperature not greater then 79 degrees.    Frio pouches are good in excess of 120 degrees!  Insulin can be safely stored in the pouches for up to 45 hours before the pouches need to be immersed in water again. When done let them dry out and the gel turns back into crystals and store until you need it.

  1. Blood glucose meters, most meters can maintain industry standards for testing in heat ranging from 40-105, but what you don't want to do is leave them in your car when it is hot. Even 80 degrees gets much warmer in your car, so best is to carry your supplies with you.

  1. And last, but not least, YOU! Living with diabetes and baking in the heat may sound like an awesome challenge, but remember, heat raises our stress levels and thereby our blood glucose levels. So expect that your blood sugar will run a little higher. However, the flip side of that is that fast acting insulin can often absorb at a faster rate in the heat! So don't over inject for the higher blood sugar numbers, you could pay for it a little later, best to think this one thru with your cde and/or doc to plan insulin adjustments.

  1. And to help lower the body's natural reaction to stress, drink plenty of fluids. I usually stick to water with fresh lemon and I try to drink at least 64 oz, while walking around for the day.  Here's the list of tips from the CDC on traveling with diabetes!

And if you are a style conscious like me, I have some thoughts about bags. I do go for the sporty style because they often have more pockets for organizing and places to store bulky items like blood glucose meter, insulin pen case, glasses, phone and occasional water bottle without making me look like I'm schlepping a duffle bag. My favorite purse/bag is by Overland Equipment, because it has so many pockets for organizing! I can put my hand on exactly where my glasses, or insulin should be stored and know if I need to visually check! I'm heart broken because they no longer make it, but closest that they make to it now is the Donner bag! What I have liked about Overland is the fit. My shoulders stay level while moving and are never sore from the strap and the style is versatile for carrying cross chest too. I love Zappos.com for looking at the bags because you have the video feed to see for scale and function.

Timbuk2 has a tote that I covet  when I hop the train for business in another city. But they also offer a line of shoulder bags.  I prefer the velcro flaps of Overland to the buckle of some of these others, but for serious traveling, I would opt for the buckle as an added safety feature.

The replacements for my current bag are cute and may spark some creative style flare for a few of you, so let me list some of my picks:

Timbuk2 Minnie Rae Shoulder Bag.  Timbuk2 has this neat option where you can design your bag, so it's your colors and patterns.  Great gift for a teen or freshmen leaving for college!

Haiku Bags makes some pretty bags with lots of storage compartments:

Similar to what I have now is their To Go bag, and it's on sale! As is the other option of grab bag.  My only issue with Haiku bags was the buckle on the adjustable shoulder strap had a tendency to rub my collar bone, but  for a different body type, it might not be a problem.

For me it is not the size that matters, it is the organizational aspect of lots of pockets for glasses, lipgloss, brush and diabetes management. Being organized makes me feel confident, which allows me to explore life with more style and fun and a lot less stress!