The diabetic’s guide to travel

Traffic. Long lines. Flight delays. Here’s your holiday travel how-to.

Just like the song says, “It’s a long way down the holiday road.” When you have diabetes, holiday travel takes some extra planning and preparation. Follow these steps so you can make it home (or to the Bahamas) for the holidays.

Preparing for a road trip

  • Pack plenty of diabetes supplies, twice as much as you think you will need (just like you would with underwear). That includes plenty of medication, whether it’s pills or insulin, an extra blood glucose meter and batteries. If you wear an insulin pump, some companies will send you a vacation loaner as a back-up.
  • Always wear medical identification stating that you have diabetes.
  • Carry a list of your doctors, including names and phone numbers.
  • Bring a cooler. Some diabetes supplies cannot get above room temperature, so keep them in the cooler with snacks if you need a blood sugar boost while on the road.
  • Remember: It’s the holidays. Expect travel delays!

Preparing to fly

  • Pack plenty of diabetes supplies, twice as much as you think you will need (just like you would with underwear). That includes plenty of medication, whether it’s pills or insulin, an extra blood glucose meter and batteries. If you wear an insulin pump, some companies will send you a vacation loaner as a back-up.
  • Keep of your diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag.
  • Always wear medical identification stating that you have diabetes.
  • Carry a list of your doctors, including names and phone numbers.
  • If you have an insulin pump or glucose sensor, alert security officers before being screened.
    – An insulin pump should never go through the X-ray machine (the thing with the conveyor belt) or the full body scanner (the big thing that takes a picture of your whole body).
    – An insulin pump  go through a metal detector (the thing you walk through while your stuff goes through on the conveyor belt).
    Note: This will lead to a pat down and possible inspection of your supplies.
  • Always pack snacks or a meal in your carry-on bag in case your blood sugar gets low while in flight. Glucose tabs, glucose gel and candy are convenient for packing. Like your other diabetes supplies, always pack more than you think you will need.
  • Remember: It’s the holidays. Expect travel delays!

Keep a schedule

While it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it usually brings a big change in your normal eating and activity routine. It’s important to take your medication at the same time you take it at home. If you will be staying in a different time zone, wear a watch set to home time or set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medication on your usual schedule. If you wear an insulin pump, when you get to your destination, simply change the time on your pump to local time.

Investing a little extra planning before your trip will allow you to enjoy the holidays that much more.


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