What Do You Need if You Are Traveling on a Plane and Have Diabetes?

Make Traveling Easier by Being Prepared

Michaa Krakowiak/Vetta/Getty Images.

Traveling can be stressful - you need to worry about what to pack, rules and regulations regarding packing, being on time, tickets, identification, etc. Add diabetes supplies to the mix and now things can get really complicated. To ease your worry and fear it's important to be prepared. You need to know what you need to bring and how to bring it. Make traveling as easy at it can be with these tips: 

Items You Will Need: 

  • All medications
  • Blood sugar meter
  • Test strips (check expiration date and make sure they are sealed tightly)
  • Alcohol swipes 
  • Lancing device and needles
  • Glucagon
  • Glucose tablets or gel to treat a low blood sugar
  • Pens, insulin, needles, syringes, cooling packs for insulin storage 
  • Sharps disposal container 
  • Blood sugar log or app
  • Prescriptions - not necessary but maybe helpful if you are questioned by TSA 
  • Diabetes medical alert (you should always have this on you in case of a medical emergency) 
  • Your insurance card and list of doctors
  • Emergency contact list 

Can I Take Liquids: 

Unlike the regular rules and regulations only allowing 3.4oz of liquids through security, people with diabetes are permitted to take their medicines and liquids even if they are more than 3.4oz. However, these items will undergo additional screening and passengers may be asked to open liquids. They must be declared and they should not be placed in ziplock bags.

Instead, they should be separated from all your other belongings. According to the American Diabetes Association, insulin can safely pass through X-ray machines, but if you are worried, you can request a manual check. 

If You Take Insulin: 

Do not pack insulin in checked luggage. Packing it in checked luggage could expose insulin to extreme changes in temperature and pressure.

When you arrive at your destination, check your insulin to make sure the appearance has not changed. Tainted insulin can look cloudy when its supposed to be clear, stringy, the color has changed, or it may have clumps even after rolling it between your palms. If you think your insulin has gone bad, don't take any chances: throw the bottle away immediately and open a new one. If they are all bad contact your doctor immediately. 

If You Wear an Insulin Pump:

Make sure to bring all of your supplies needed for your pump. You can go through TSA checkpoints without disconnecting from your pump. 

Other Important Things to Remember: 

  • Ask your doctor for a letter in writing saying that you have diabetes and listing what medicines you take.
  • Always arrive early.
  • Pack snacks. If your meal is delayed or you don't like what is going to be served on the plane, eating something can help to prevent low blood sugar. 
  • Pack your supplies in a separate bag. Pack your diabetes supplies first so that you are less likely to forget anything. 
  • Always pack extra supplies (you may be able to ask your pharmacist for a vacation override).
  • You can download the TSA mobile App. The app provides information for travelers with disabilities, medical conditions or medical devices; tips for dressing and packing to speed through security; information on traveling with food and gifts, etc. 
  • If you are crossing time zones, discuss with your health care team how to re-set insulin pumps and timing of medications to prevent blood glucose excursions. 


American Diabetes Association. What Can I Bring With Me. Accessed on-line. August 25, 2014: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/know-your-rights/discrimination/public-accommodations/air-travel-and-diabetes/what-can-i-bring-with-me.html

Transportation Security Administration. Passengers with Diabetes. Accessed on-line. August 25, 2014: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/passengers-diabetes

Continue Reading