Here are some great tips for managing diabetes and always staying healthy whether on vacation or not.
P stands for:
- Physician letter: Request a letter from your M.D. which explains you have diabetes and carry the letter at all times. Make your own list of all medications, amounts and for what reason you take them. Remember to update your list.
- Prepare: All insulin vials and delivery systems must be identified with the preprinted pharmacy label and should be kept in the original packages. Bring extra strips to test your blood sugar since travel can be stressful.
- Prescriptions: Take prescription copies for all necessary medications and supplies. Take an extra week of prescription medication if traveling in the U.S. and two weeks extra prescription medication when out of this country. Carry necessary OTC products with you as well.
- Pumps: Request a private pat-down and ask for a visual pump inspection. Bring extra pump supplies.
- Protect: If you need immunizations, get them on time and get the required shots for the region where you will be traveling. Make sure you take them in advance to give them time to work. Protect your feet- Pack new socks or stockings. No bare feet even in the pool, ocean or shower. Purchase pool shoes. Wear shoes that have been broken in. Think about foot powder to keep feet free from fungus and lotion to keep them moist and smooth.
- PRIOR TO DEPARTURE: Find out where to get medical care in your travel area. Check on your health insurance and what benefits you have in a different region of the country or abroad. Carry insurance cards. Take out extra health insurance that may work locally.
A stands for:
- Advise: Advise at least one travel companion that you have diabetes. Wear an ID bracelet or necklace.
- Amounts: Take additional supplies to be prepared. Bring extra snacks in case the flights are delayed. Make sure to carry water to prevent dehydration.
- Air Concerns: Avoid outdoor exercise if the air quality index is above 101. Watch for humidity which makes the ambient air feel warmer. Think about indoor air conditioned spaces for exercise when you can.
- Activity: Stretch and walk whenever possible on the airplane or at rest stops. Purchase support hose or compression stockings if on a long flight. More activity means possible lower blood sugars. Be prepared with glucose tablets for hypoglycemia.
- Adjust: Time Zone changes may mean insulin dose changes. Traveling East: the day will be shorter and less insulin will be required. Traveling West: the day will be longer and more insulin will be required. Always check with your physician about insulin needs.
C stands for:
- Cards: Bring diabetes identification cards. Carry a card that contains emergency phone numbers.
- Clot Prevention: Move around at least hourly to reduce your risk for blood clots. Try to do ankle rolls and leg lifts even sitting. Stretch often. Stay hydrated.
- Cooler: Store medications and healthy foods.
K stands for:
- Keep: Insulin properly stored in a cooler; but avoid direct placement on an ice pack.
- Keep: Your schedule as normal as possible while traveling. Eat on a schedule as well. Do not skip meals. Take and eat proper snacks.
- Kits: Personal travel kit: Keep medications, blood glucose monitors and snacks with you. Carry simple first aid kits including band-aids and an antibiotic ointment. Think about a glucagon kit if you suffer from hypoglycemic unawareness.
Remember to P.A.C.K. before you go and be prepared even when you are not traveling!