Travel tips for kids with diabetes

Diabetes can add stress during even the shortest getaways. Preparation is the key to a safe, fun-filled adventure.

Vacations are meant to be a time for rest and relaxation, a time for cares to melt away. As we all know, though, diabetes can add stress during even the shortest getaways. Preparation is the key to a safe, fun-filled adventure.

Adventure guide

  • Pack plenty of diabetes supplies, twice as much as you think you will need (think underwear). That includes extra blood glucose meter and batteries. If you or your child wears a pump, some companies will send you a vacation loaner as a back-up.
  • Always wear medical identification stating that you have diabetes.
  • Make a doctor list, including names and phone numbers. If a dolphin swims off with your insulin pump, you will be able to make that quick, easy call.
  • If traveling by car, remember that your diabetes supplies are a bit wimpy, so never leave them in the car unless they are in a cooler.

Flying the friendly skies

  • To avoid confusion and extra stress, check out your rights and the regulations for carrying your supplies: Transportation Security Administration hotline for those with medical conditions is (855) 787-2227 or go to www.tsa.gov.
  • TSA recommends that those wearing an insulin pump or glucose sensor alert security officers BEFORE being screened. The TSA website provides a downloadable notification card that will discreetly reveal that you are wearing a medical device.
    • Helpful hint: This will lead to a security pat down (we all love those), but the line is usually very short!
  • Keep ALL of your insulin and vital diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag. Remember, insulin is wimpy and does not like to be sent to Kansas when you are in Florida!
  • Star Trek scanners vs. insulin pumps: Apparently, they do NOT like each other, so the pump should never go through the X-ray device (the thing with the conveyor belt) or the full body scanner (the big thing that takes a picture of your whole body).
    • Helpful hint: Tell security that you are wearing an insulin pump. Note: This will lead to the pat down and possible inspection of your supplies.
  • Regular metal detector vs. insulin pumps: They are on speaking terms, so your pump can go through the metal detector (the thing you walk through while your stuff goes through on the conveyor belt).
    • Helpful hint: We recommend telling security that you are wearing an insulin pump, as it may set off the alarm. Note: Either way, you may be subjected to the 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.
  • While you’re on your relaxed vacation schedule, it’s important for your basal (long-acting) insulin to be taken at the same time you take it at home. Wear a watch set to home time or set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take your basal insulin 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 time and planning before your trip will allow you to enjoy your journey that much more. Bon voyage!

For more information or to learn about the Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center at Norton Children’s Hospital, visit NortonChildrens.com/Diabetes.

−Stephanie Jensen, R.N., CDE


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