Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your condition shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a vacation or even going traveling for several months. However, you may need to put a bit more thought into traveling if you want to keep your diabetes well under control both on your journey and your destination. Here are seven useful tips that will help you on your way.
1. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations
It’s important to discuss whether you need any special protection against disease when you go abroad, and to check out any potential drug interactions between vaccinations and your current diabetes medications.
2. Shop around for insurance
A standard travel insurance policy will not cover you for any complications associated with diabetes, but it can be very expensive to tack additional diabetes coverage onto your policy. As a result, it’s smart to spend time browsing through a wide range of options so that you can find the most inclusive and affordable policy. If you have diabetic friends, ask them what company they use. If in doubt, always call the company and ask them careful questions about coverage for your condition.
3. Pack carefully
In addition to packing your usual diabetes supply, you should always take spares with you when you go on vacation, as you never know when something will be lost. You should also have enough medication to cover you if delays or unforeseen emergencies stop you from getting home as early as you planned. When you’re flying, you’ll need to pack your insulin in your cabin baggage, as it could freeze in the cold temperatures of the luggage hold. Since you’ll be taking your diabetes kit through security, you should also carry a letter from your doctor that identifies you as a diabetic and explains your need for insulin, syringes and/or an insulin pump.
4. Know the details of your medications
As well as knowing the brand names of your drugs, you should find out their generic names in case you go somewhere that stocks your drugs under a different brand name. It’s also important to check out the standard strength of insulin in your destination country, as it cannot just be interchanged with the strength you usually use.
5. Think ahead when it comes to airline food
Meals that are identified as ‘diabetic’ might well be misleading, or at least unnecessary, so be sure to ask for specifics if you select a diabetic meal on a flight. Since airline food is often disturbed in fairly small portions or at times that don’t suit your routine, you will also want to take snacks that can help to give you a blood sugar boost without causing them to spike excessively.
6. Protect insulin in hot climates
While your insulin should be fine if you’re taking a short trip in normal temperature conditions, a hot journey or a hot destination require extra planning. You can protect your insulin with a cool bag or wallet, which are often designed to refrigerate food during transit. If you’ll be spending a long time in a hot climate, a portable fridge may be a better choice (whether you buy it before you leave or when you arrive at your destination).
7. Monitor your glucose closely
Finally, although you will always check your blood glucose levels, this is an even more important part of your day when you’re visiting a hot county. Your body’s insulin absorption can become faster when you’re in hotter temperatures, so your blood glucose tests will let you know if you need to adjust your dose.