Traveling guide for people with diabetes
15 April 2019
Diabetes currently affects 30.3 million Americans. That’s nearly one in ten!
The odds that either you or someone you love suffers from diabetes are alarming. It can be a difficult disease to handle, especially along your travels. Whether you’re a diabetic with an ambitious bucket list or you’re traveling with a diabetic who needs your care, we’ll give you the need-to-know for your upcoming domestic travels.
Just like anything else, each situation is very different and should be handled on an individual basis. Not all of these tips will apply to everyone with diabetes. After all, there are different types of the condition:
- Type 1
- Type 2
Here are some tips to exercise in preparation for and during your travels on how to manage diabetes.
1. Travel With Confidence as a Diabetic
With finding cheap flights, reserving the best hotels, mapping out activities, and planning finances, it’s difficult enough to construct the perfect trip WITHOUT worrying about diabetes. Managing your diabetes or your loved one’s diabetes can make it that much more overwhelming. A few of my family members have diabetes, and we’ve learned to construct our vacation plans around meals.
But there are ways to quiet your stress and amplify your excitement for your adventure.
2. Preparing for Your Trip
One cardinal step you can take to prepare for your trip is to research pharmacies in the area you plan to visit. That way you’re not scrambling for the best options during an emergency!
3. Gather Documentation
It’s true that we’re living in a non-paperwork era. But nothing can ever replace a proper doctor’s note.
This is especially applicable to seniors and children travelling alone. However, it can’t hurt to have a conversation with your doctor about any recommendations they would give for travelling with diabetes. You might have questions such as:
- Any vaccines you might need
- If you should expect any unusual effects from your upcoming activities
- If your insulin doses should be modified
Be sure to get the doctor’s appointment well ahead of time so there is no last-minute rush. You should also have a written prescription on your person. If you are carrying syringes and/or insulin, it is important to carry documentation that the medication is for you specifically.
Diabetes is considered a disability, so it is always a good idea to have documentation. And to be doubly prepared, keep in mind airport policies & accessibility options around the country. Contact your airline customer service for further questions and assistance while travelling with someone with diabetes.
4. Bring a Schedule
As you are travelling, be sure to consider time zones. Because we are all prone to some level of jet lag, this can significantly affect daily routines, including eating and time of insulin injections. If you don’t establish a schedule, your travels can be railroaded quickly with the potential fluctuation of blood sugar levels.
5. Pack Healthy Snacks
It’s vital to carry healthy snacks in case you or your travel buddy are running on low blood sugar. We all practice irregular eating habits while we travel, whether it be indulging in unhealthy food, drinking more than normal, or not getting enough water.
Eating out at a diabetes-friendly establishment isn’t always cheap, so bring and use your favourite restaurant rewards card to get the best bang for your buck for food. It’s a nice way to get a return for money you’d spend anyway.
You can also take control of your diet by packing your own food, including items you know are diabetes-friendly, like:
- Cheese and crackers
- Apples and peanut butter
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Trail mix
- Beef sticks
- Dried fruit
It’s good to mix a few non-perishables in there to ensure you’ve ALWAYS got sustenance in your back pocket. This can be the difference between an enjoyable adventure or an unfortunate trip to the hospital.
6. Hitting the Road
Just as you go to the doctor’s for a check-up prior to a vacation, take your car for a check-up, too!
If you are planning to head out for a road trip, be sure to take your vehicle in for an inspection at least a week before you hit the highway. If there’s something wrong with your vehicle, you are giving yourself a few buffer days between a potential problem and your vacation.
However, do consider renting a car. Sometimes it makes sense to pay for a rental car and put the miles on a vehicle that’s not your own. And if you do decide to rent a car, be sure to explore all of your options when it comes to using rewards cards for car rentals. Along with that, be sure to use cards that will give you the biggest return on gas purchases.
If you’ve got a room, consider bringing extra medical supplies and snacks. If you’re making a long drive through parts of the country where medical access isn’t readily available, you’re obviously going to want as many fallback solutions as you can get. Bring enough food to account for low blood sugar, and pack a cooler for insulin in case you are travelling through high temperatures (not directly on ice, though!).
Lastly, driving can be extremely tiring. Whether you are driving or not, being cooped up a car for hours on end is taxing. Taking frequent breaks will allow everyone to stretch to keep blood flow moving and prevent fatigue.
7. Travelling by Air
While travelling by air is a bit more luxurious, it can still be hard on your body.
8. Notify the Proper People
If you decide that flying is your best mode of travel, be sure to let the appropriate people know (for example, your flight attendant while you’re boarding the plane). That way they’ll understand when you press the call button and request a cup of juice to stave off hypoglycemia. This is particularly wise if you’re travelling alone. In the same vein, you can even use a TSA notification card that will make your airport security process a little less of a headache.
9. Store Your Medication in Your Carry-On Bag
Also, consider bringing medical necessities in your carry-on bag instead of putting them into your checked bag. Do this for a few reasons:
- You always want access to your medication. If you end up stuck on the plane longer than you anticipated, or if onboard meals are delayed for some reason, it could lead to a bad situation if your supplies are in your checked bag
- You don’t want to subject your insulin to frigid temperatures in the cargo hold
- Checked bags get lost, misdirected, stolen, etc.
In fact, because airlines allow you 1 personal item (separate from your carry-on), you may want to bring a dedicated diabetes pouch filled with snacks, insulin, and tablets.
And don’t scrimp on the number of snacks and medicine – bring WAY more than you imagine you’ll need! Remember, diabetics don’t have to abide by the 3.4-ounces-of-liquids rule like everyone else when going through airport security.
10. Use Airport Lounges to Stay Comfortable
To keep your comfort levels up, consider entering airport lounges to rest up and have access to snacks and drinks before your flight. This is my all-time favourite travel accessory.
Airport lounge access isn’t as expensive as you might imagine, especially if you have the right credit card! If you are anticipating a long flight, it could make a world of difference. Many lounges have hot meals, free beverages, high-speed Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, and even showers!
Just like anything else in life, preparation is key to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. If you or someone you are travelling with is diabetic, taking steps ahead of time could save you from a potentially health-threatening situation.
Diabetes shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world!
Published by MillionSecrets on March 8, 2019