People with diabetes can travel anywhere with proper planning, even an overseas trip. To be well-prepared, consider where you want to go and how long you will stay. Have a happy, healthy time during your getaway by following a few simple travel tips. First, some general travel tips:
- Start by researching regions of interest and make it a joint decision when traveling with others. You do not have to plan out all of the specifics, but being prepared will eliminate headaches. Trip expectations should be reasonable and shared so no one is disappointed.
- When staying local, or on an overnight car trip, make sure to stop every 2-3 hours for a quick stretch. Walk around for about 10-15 minutes. Pack nutritious snacks or sandwiches if you decide not to stop for meals.
- When flying, make sure you pack a functional kit containing products for a safe trip. Look for small packaging which is now easier to find in most chain stores. Your kit should include sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30, bug spray, 1% cortisone cream, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content, antacid and anti-diarrheal medication for upset stomachs and motion sickness products. Also include lubricating eye drops, cough drops, Tylenol or Advil products for aches and pains or fever. Be sure to pack anti-biotic ointment, anti-histamine for allergies and a digital thermometer. It should not require a large amount of carry on space and you will be well prepared. Remember, if you are traveling close to home you can always grab these products as needed if you run out.
- On the plane, consider wiping down your immediate area with a disposable antiseptic cloth or wipe. Bring ear plugs or silencing head phones as well as an eye mask which may help you sleep. Consider buying a blanket/pillow kit to stay comfortable and for you to keep.
- When traveling abroad, check for information about which vaccinations and medications are needed – well in advance. Check CDC.gov or The World Health Organization for specific country guidelines. If you have disabilities, check ahead to see how you can get around without difficulty.
- Use antiseptic wipes on surfaces in hotel rooms – especially TV remotes and light switches.
- Try not to touch or rub your eyes, nose or mouth since all germs are introduced here. Cover any open wounds with a dressing or band-aid.
And here some more specific things to consider and make a part of your vacation planning when you have diabetes:
- Never pack diabetes supplies as they are sensitive to heat and cold. Luggage can be lost or stolen so keep diabetes testing supplies, insulin and medication in a carry-on bag. This ensures you have these essentials when you need them, and can alleviate stress.
- Pack portable diabetes snacks for the trip to control your blood sugar even if there are delays. Always bring water to avoid dehydration. Many people with diabetes wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace to provide necessary information in the event of an emergency.
- It is crucial to test blood sugar levels more frequently due to a change in routine, eating and time zones. If you are dependent on insulin, discuss these changes with your doctor to plan the timing and dosage of your injections while traveling.
- Visit your physician one month prior to traveling to ensure your diabetes is under good control. Get prescriptions for essential medications and insulin. Have an extra week supply when traveling in the United States and an extra two week supply if you are leaving the country. Pack enough medication and insulin to last through your vacation.
- Verify with your doctor whether you need immunizations prior to the trip. Get them one month prior to traveling to give yourself time to recover if you get sick.
- Check with the airlines to find out the acceptable way to carry medications. Some airlines will expect them to be in the original containers while others want them transported in pill boxes. Also find out the acceptable way to pack lancets, insulin and other injection supplies.
- To avoid carrying around a large Sharps container, dispose of your lancets and syringes in a heavy gauge water bottle.
- Carry glucose tabs with you to quickly stabilize low blood sugar while traveling. Also have plenty of water to flush out your system if blood sugar gets high.
Enjoy your traveling experience by planning ahead to keep diabetes under control. Being prepared ensures you’re ready to handle anything that might come up during your trip.
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NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.