Travel Tips When You Have Diabetes

By | 2018-05-14T13:16:00+00:00 May 28th, 2014|Diabetes Management, Health & Wellness, Newsletters|4 Comments

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.

Have a question or comment? Then post below, no registration required. I would love to hear from you!


NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

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About the Author:

Roberta Kleinman, RN, M. Ed., CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in Long Island, NY. Her nursing training was done at the University of Vermont where she received a B.S. R.N. Robbie obtained her Master of Education degree, with a specialty in exercise physiology, from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. 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.

4 Comments

  1. Tayna_H May 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Nurse Robbie, thanks again for your good article. I read them each week. I have a quick question.. last week I traveled and brought my glucose meter. It was packed in my carry on suite case so it went through the xray security scanners at the airport. When I returned home from my trip it no longer works. Could the xray scanner cause damage to a diabetes meter? I also dropped my bag, so I’m thinking this was the cause. I already purchased a new one.

    • Nurse Robbie May 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Tayna,
      Glad you brought your meter as carry on but when you dropped it you most likely caused the problem. The xray scanner should not cause a problem. Glad you got a new one and continue to test so you can be aware of your diabetes management. Best of Luck!
      Nurse Robbie

      • Cliff May 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm - Reply

        Nurse Robbie,
        How long does a Glucose Monitor last? I’ve had my Bayer Contour meter for 3 1/2 years.. not sure If i should get a new one.

        • Nurse Robbie May 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm - Reply

          Hi Cliff,
          It is usually recommended that you replace your meter every two years. Most companies update their equipment in that time span so you should consider getting a new one now. Hope this helps!

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