The children are out of school, the atmosphere is more relaxed and summer travel is here. Diabetes should not stop you from traveling, whether it is for pleasure or business.
Planning ahead will make your life easier and result in safely caring for your diabetes. Below, you will find a list of essentials to help you plan a fantastic vacation without too many concerns or problems.
Before You Leave
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss travel plans and obtain a physical if needed. Make sure all of your immunizations are up to date, and if you are traveling abroad, have the shots that are required at least one month ahead of time. That way, if a reaction were to occur, you would be at home. Immunizations can also upset your blood sugar levels.
No matter where you go, make sure you have I.D. stating that you have diabetes, preferably on a bracelet or necklace. A service that I recommend is MedicAlert. Medical personnel are trained to look for the bracelet emblem and act based on the information it conveys. The toll-free 800 number will connect to a response line that is available 24 hours a day, which enables emergency responders to provide you with faster and safer treatment. Their number to call for more information is 1-800-432-5378.
Two written items should be obtained from your physician. First, a letter should explain that you have diabetes, list all the supplies and medications you take, along with the doses and reasons for the medications. Allergies should be listed on this letter along with your physician’s name and phone number. The second thing you should get from your physician should be a prescription. You should always travel with one extra week of supplies in this country and two extra weeks of supplies when you go abroad. The prescription is just for an emergency. Also remember, prescription rules vary from state to state.
You may want to look into trip insurance, or at least, check with your health insurance to know what your rights are in the U.S. or abroad. Bring your insurance card. You may want a list of English speaking physicians in foreign countries. Call 1-716-754-4883 for International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers for information.
Bring With You
Pack all your medications and testing supplies in your carry-on luggage. NEVER pack them in luggage you do not have on your person. Glucose tablets or a sugar source should be with you as well. Healthy snacks and water should be carried on the plane to combat dehydration and hunger, along with hypoglycemia. Carry a first aid kit containing antibiotic cream, pain and fever relievers, sunscreen, bug spray and medicine for stomach ailments. Carry extra testing supplies since you need to be prepared due to illness or other unexpected issues.
At the Airport
Alert the security staff that you are diabetic and carrying medication and supplies. All supplies should have the original labels on them and medications should be labeled also. Syringes will be allowed if you have insulin. If you wear a pump, inform security so that they can inspect it properly.
On the Plane
Drink extra fluids without caffeine. Walk around or rotate your legs and arms to prevent blood clots. Try to stretch in your seat. If you need an insulin shot, do not add air to the bottle, since the cabin is pressurized. Keep the insulin between 33 and 78 degrees. Do not freeze or keep your insulin in the direct sun. Time zone changes more than two hours may require you to change your injection schedule. Check with your physician before you leave.
Always tell at least one person that you have diabetes when you are traveling. Do not wear brand new shoes without breaking them in first. Wear socks for extra protection and never go barefoot in the shower or pool. Savor every moment, sight and smell and ENJOY!
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.