Five Tips for Travelers with Diabetes

Part of treating diabetes is developing a routine. Regular meals, snacks and blood glucose testing are easy to forget unless you make them part of your daily regimen. While most people with diabetes have established a routine while at home, travel takes you out of this regimen. Traveling does present additional challenges for those with diabetes; however, with a little planning, you can continue you with your normal routine even when on the road. The key is to imagine what you will need (food, snacks, medication, medical equipment), and making sure you have those things available to you during your trip. Below are five tips to make your journey stress free.

1. Plan Early- Make a list of everything you will need. On your departure day, you don’t want to be stuffing items in your bags. A checklist is a great aid while packing, and the best way to be sure you have not forgotten anything important. Run your list by someone else with diabetes to get their input. Knowing you have everything you need will get your trip started on the right note.

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2. Medical Equipment- Of course you will want to bring you blood glucose monitor with you. Make sure it is in good condition and functioning properly. Preferably you will have one with a time clock battery backup. Pack your insulin and enough syringes for two weeks in your carryon bag. You never know what might happen. If you are travelling by air, you are allowed to bring your medical equipment on the plane and use it during your trip. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations specifically state that passengers with diabetes are permitted to board airplanes with insulin, syringes, insulin pumps, liquids including “water, juice, or liquid nutrition,” and “all diabetes related medication, equipment and supplies.”

3. Diabetes Identification Card- The TSA has a disability identification card available to those with diabetes. It is a discreet way to inform the TSA agents of your condition. It will not exempt you from screening, but it will inform them that you have a valid medical condition and put them in the right frame of mind when inspecting your luggage.

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4. Insulin- Never ship your insulin with your checked luggage when flying. The drastic changes in temperature and pressure could alter its efficacy. Although it is not required, you should bring your insulin prescription with you to expedite inspection. In addition, you will ideally travel with your insulin in the box it came in with a professional, pharmaceutical preprinted label, which clearly identifies the medication. While neither a prescription nor the box/labels are mandated by TSA regulations, your goal is to make your travel as stress free as possible. The TSA agents’ job is to keep you and other travelers safe, and they deal with thousands of travelers each day. By clearly identifying your medication and verifying it with your prescription makes the TSA agents job easier, which will make your screening less stressful.

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5. Where an ID Bracelet- While planning will likely help you avoid any trouble on the road, wearing an ID bracelet is a great safety net. You should also carry a diabetes ID card in your wallet. If you are travelling abroad, make sure that both the bracelet and ID card are printed in the language spoken in the country that you are visiting.

Travelers with diabetes face additional challenges due to security restrictions and changes in their established routines. If you are traveling, you likely have something on your mind besides your diabetes. Be sure to plan ahead. With a little thoughtful planning beforehand, and the proper medical supplies, you can have a stress free trip.

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