The routine of daily responsibilities and managing diabetes can get demanding. Taking time out for a getaway is a great way to relieve the pressure. Consider one or more of these 3 diabetes friendly vacations to help you get a fresh perspective.
- People with diabetes can go on almost any type of vacation they want. All it takes is planning ahead to make it a success. While you may not take a diabetes vacation you can escape the hectic pace of daily life. Vacations can help relieve stress which is good for your overall health and well-being. Minimizing your stress can even help stabilize your blood sugars and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- The beach is a popular vacation spot because it offers a complete change of scenery for some. Consider visiting world-famous beach destinations, such as Florida, the Jersey shore, California, Hawaii or Long Island, New York. Taking long walks on the beach, swimming and eating seafood are all good for people with diabetes. Your goals will be to keep your supplies at the proper temperature and ensure they stay cool, dry and free of sand. Bring a cooler designed for storing diabetes supplies. Pack water shoes to wear to the beach or pool. Never go barefoot, as your feet could get injured from glass, stones or the hot pavement or sand. Think about packing a small first aid kit or be aware of the life guard stand which will have first aid supplies. Resist the urge to wear flip-flops, crocs or other open shoes. Wear breathable closed shoes instead. Check your feet daily for sores or other irregularities. Wash them each day with warm water and gentle soap, then slather on moisturizer, avoiding the areas between your toes. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ before you head to the beach or go outside. Wear a hat and sunglasses when outdoors for added protection. Remember that some insulin pumps cannot be worn in the water so talk to your physician before leaving on your beach trip.
- If you decide to go on a cruise ship ask the cruise manager or travel agent about the availability of emergency medical facilities for people with diabetes. Try to avoid the temptation of endless buffets and free-flowing liquor. Choose salads, lean meats, fish and fresh fruit or vegetables over the fatty buffet fare. Keep in mind the rule of one drink daily for women and two for men, which means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of distilled liquor. Stay cool with water or flavored seltzer rather than consuming the empty calories found in soda, energy drinks and fruit juices. Use the ships gym or walking track to get plenty of exercise when at sea.
- Visit a major city. Experience culture and nightlife in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston or New York City. Enjoy the lovely landscapes in Lexington, Kentucky or the unique vistas of the desert in Phoenix, Arizona. If you are flying pack three or four days of extra supplies and medications in a carry-on travel bag. You may need a small carry on cooler as well depending on your medications. Avoid storing insulin directly on ice packs as it may freeze. Carry a note from your doctor that conveys your need to bring diabetes supplies on the plane. Consider wearing a diabetes bracelet or necklace in case of emergencies. Let airport security and your traveling companions know you have diabetes. Be ready to treat low glucose by packing glucose tablets that won’t leak or explode in the heat.
- Once you get to the big city, there is usually an array of international cuisine to sample. Keep sugar, salt, carbohydrates and food portion sizes in mind as you make decisions along the way. Use a blood glucose monitor to check your blood sugar as needed. Ask your health care team about changing your medication schedule if you are traveling to a different time zone. Bring a pair of broken in walking shoes to keep your feet comfortable as you tour the city attractions. Enter “ICE” [in case of emergency] contact in your cell phone for emergency responders, as they are trained to find this information.
- Use your vacation to reconnect with loved ones. Visiting family is wonderful without the stress of a school schedule. Socializing is wonderful for your mental, emotional and physical health. If you are taking a road trip, use Google to help you map out places to stop for healthy food. You should always bring some of your own snacks such as nuts, pieces of fruit, peanut butter or cheese filled crackers and low-sugar granola bars as well as a cooler filled with water bottles. Stop every couple of hours to take a brief walk and stretch in a safe area. Bring packets of alcohol wipes to clean your hands before testing if soap and water is not available. Have emergency numbers and your health insurance card in case of an emergency. Pack a glucagon kit [type 1 or suffering from severe hypoglycemia] and make sure all medications and insulin delivery systems are clearly marked. Take copies of your prescriptions with you. If you are planning an active vacation, talk to your doctor about getting increased activity before you leave. Be aware of rest areas in case you feel dizzy, fatigued or nauseous and need to pull over. Check blood sugars before driving and when having symptoms of hypoglycemia. Never force yourself to drive if you feel ill.
From the beach to the city to visiting with loved ones, there are a variety of fantastic vacations to consider when you have diabetes. With a bit of planning, you can take time out and still take care of yourself. After all, you deserve a break!