What to Know When Traveling With Type 1

Diabetic patient testing her blood at the beach
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Traveling with type 1 diabetes can be a hassle. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, your diabetes management can be affected anytime you have a disruption to your regular schedule. Here are some travel tips to help keep you in good control.

Always Carry Important Documents

Any time you are away from home, you should always carry a letter from your doctor and a backup prescription for insulin and any other medications you might be taking.

The letter from your doctor should explain that you have diabetes and list the medications (insulin) and any other items (syringes, lancets, etc.) that you need to manage your health. You should have enough insulin to get you through the trip, but the backup prescription can be used in case of emergency.

Pack Wisely

A good rule of thumb is to pack twice as much diabetes-related supplies as you think you will need. That includes:

  • An extra glucose meter
  • Syringes
  • Test strips
  • Lancets
  • Insulin

It’s always better to have more than less. If traveling by air, pack half of these supplies in your carry-on and half in your suitcase. That way if you and your luggage get separated, you’re covered. But always keep your insulin and other medications with you in your carry-on bag. And don’t forget to bring enough carbohydrate snacks to treat a hypoglycemic reaction, should this be necessary.

Consider Time Zones

When you cross time zones you must factor in the change to your insulin routine.

Whether you travel east or west, your day becomes longer or short and this may require you to take more or less insulin than normal. Discuss this with your doctor before you depart.

Check Out Access to Care

If you are planning an extended trip, it is advisable to check out your accessibility to a pharmacy, medical center, or diabetes specialist in the area you will be staying.

This enables you to get the help you need without having to cut your trip short.

Factor in Increased Activity

Traveling often involves more walking, climbing, and standing than your normal routine. Be sure to check your blood sugar often to ensure that your additional activity doesn’t cause you to have a hypoglycemic reaction.

Sources:

Travel Tips. Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

When You Travel. American Diabetes Association.