8 Tips for Traveling With Diabetes

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Taking trips means dealing with a lot of details, especially if you have a condition like diabetes. Here's how to be prepared before you hit the road.

Plan ahead

Depending on your level of organization you may be used to packing at the last minute. But unlike many other products, diabetes supplies can't always be picked up at your point of destination. So a few weeks before your trip make a list of everything you'll need related to your condition, particularly medications.

Take two

A good rule of thumb is to take twice as much medication, syringes and other diabetes testing supplies as you think you'll need in case you can't return home when expected.

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 get left in a hot car. Many hotel chains also offer small portable refrigerators for medication storage.

See your doctor in advance

For longer trips, such as overseas vacations, cruises or cross-country excursions, your pre-vacation preparation should include a visit to your doctor. He or she can make sure your diabetes is well-managed and also should be able to provide you with copies of your prescriptions to take with you.

Carry it on

Pack your medications and supplies in a carry-on bag, rather than in checked luggage, in case your suitcase is lost. Syringes can be carried onboard as long as you have insulin. Also, you can go through security checkpoints wearing an insulin pump if you tell TSA officials about it. For a list of tips about traveling by air with diabetes, review this fact sheet.

Snack smart

Let's face it, finding healthy foods while traveling can take a Herculean effort. Carrying your own healthy snacks can go a long way to ensuring that you eat regularly without having to devote too much time to scouting for restaurants or rest stops that offer food that's right for you.

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.

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.