Traveling with diabetes requires preparation both before and during your trip. Here are 11 tips to help you make sure your diabetes doesn’t interfere with the pleasures of travel.
1. Visit your doctor at least a month before you leave to make sure your diabetes is under control. If you need to do any stabilizing, a month will give you enough time. The same month should let your body settle down after any necessary immunization shots, so get those at the same time.
2. Get a letter from your doctor certifying that you are diabetic, and listing the various medications and supplies you must carry with you. Without this, you might have difficulties passing through Security at airports and international border crossings.
3. Also get a prescription for your insulin or other diabetes medication. Even though you should have enough syringes, strips and medication to last for the duration of your trip, it’s always good to have a prescription in case you lose them, they become spoiled because of extreme weather conditions, or your trip lasts longer than you original planned.
4. Wear an ID bracelet announcing you have diabetes, and also carry a small card saying so in the local language of the places you will be visiting.
5. Learn to express specific diabetic requirements in the local languages. Since you probably won’t know how to pronounce the words, the easiest way is to carry them on a printed card and simply point to what you want to say.
6. Pack at least twice as much medication and supplies as you think you’ll need. Put half in your suitcase, and half in a special bag that never leaves your possession. The container for these supplies should be sturdy, preferably hard sided, for protection.
7. Carry a sealed pack containing hard candies or glucose tablets in case irregular eating makes your blood sugar drop too low. Your pack should also contain emergency snacks, such as crackers, cheese, fruit, juice – in case you must wait too long between meals, which can happen when we are traveling.
8. Insulin can lose its strength in extreme temperatures, so carry your supply, as well as pills and other medication, in a thermally insulated bag.
9. Carry bandages and first-aid cream, comfortable walking shoes and protective beach shoes. Your feet need extra special care while you’re traveling.
10. While on your trip, check your blood sugar more often than usual. Many factors, such as fluctuating temperatures and changing time zones, can cause wild swings in your blood sugar levels. If you check often, you’ll be better able to take corrective action as needed.
11. Finally, contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. They can provide you with a list of English speaking doctors in the countries you’ll be visiting.
As long as you take sensible precautions to care for your diabetes, there’s no reason why it needs to stand in the way of a happy travel experience. Bon voyage!