Traveling under any circumstances can be difficult, with flight delays, long stretches of driving, and greasy roadside food. For diabetics, it is crucial to plan for unexpected travel problems so that you are able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout your journey. Here are a few tips to get you going.

Be Prepared

The most important thing for diabetics to do when traveling is to carry along needed medications and snacks. Pack a generous supply of medication and blood-testing supplies, putting half in your carry-on and half in your checked baggage. Be sure to keep these items with you at all times: insulin and syringes, blood and urine testing supplies, and oral medications. Special travel pouches are available that keep insulin chilled and allow you to have all of your supplies conveniently at hand. It is also important to carry your diabetes identity card available along with your personal identification.

Eat Well

Packing your own snacks will guarantee that you have something healthy and filling to eat, should appropriate food not be available during your travels. The American Diabetes Association advises that snack packs of cheese and crackers, peanut butter, and fruit or juice can help you avoid low blood sugar.[1] Keeping some hard candy or glucose tablets on hand is a good idea, too. If you are flying, airlines will create special meals for you (low in sugar, fat, or cholesterol) if requested a few days in advance.

Keep Track of the Time

If you will be crossing time zones on your trip, don’t forget to adjust your insulin or medication schedule accordingly. If you will be losing or gaining hours, plan out a schedule that shows the location and local time at which you plan to take your next dosage. Make notes of what you eat as you travel, and be sure to monitor your blood sugar level carefully.

Around the World

If you are traveling internationally, be sure that your medications are labeled clearly and that you have written prescriptions available to show officials if needed. It is a good idea to check into medical services available at your destination before you arrive. When shopping at markets or eating out, don’t hesitate to ask what ingredients are in an unknown dish. Most countries are becoming increasingly aware of foods that are appropriate for diabetics, and restaurants are generally happy to accommodate your needs. If you are particularly concerned about avoiding certain foods, have someone write a list of them in the local language so that you can show the list whenever needed.

Ask for Assistance

If you have trouble walking, don’t feel embarrassed to ask your airline for wheelchair assistance. Not only will your feet thank you, you’ll get preferential treatment when it’s time to board the plane.