Traveling lets you leave your routine behind. That’s part of what makes it fun! But time zone changes, new foods, and increased activity can all disrupt your diabetes management plan.
The key is to plan ahead. Be ready for all the changes you’ll face. That way you get a chance to enjoy new places while keeping your blood sugar in check.
Before you travel
Before you book your trip, here are a few tips to help you plan.
1. Head to your doctor
Schedule a checkup and make sure you’re healthy. And talk to your diabetes care team about:
- How vacation activities may affect your diabetes
- Adjusting insulin doses if you’ll be traveling to another time zone
- What vaccines are needed for your destination
- Ask for a medical awareness letter — stating you have diabetes and that you need medical supplies
2. Find pharmacies and clinics
No matter your destination, look for local pharmacies and clinics nearby. That way you have access to care and medicines if you need them.
3. Purchase travel insurance
Having travel insurance helps if you need medical care or miss a flight.
4. Consider a medical ID bracelet
It should state that you have diabetes and list your other health issues.
Packing for your trip
Pack with preparedness in mind. It’s a good idea to have twice as much medicine and supplies as you’ll likely need. Keep half of these items and all insulin in a carry-on bag that you can access at all times.
A checklist for packing should include:
- Syringes and insulin – or insulin pens – required for the trip, as well as some extras
- Oral medicines
- Glucose meter and testing strips
- Extra batteries for a glucose meter
- Urine-testing supplies if applicable
- ID and diabetes ID card
- Additional medicines or other medical supplies
- Glucose tablets or snacks for low blood glucose (i.e., peanut butter crackers, juice box, hard candy, cheese, etc.)
- Hand sanitizer
- Face coverings/masks
Also, make sure you leave labels on supplies and medicines. They may be required at security checkpoints.
Tips for Flying
If you’ll be flying to your destination, you’ll need to keep a few tips in mind.
- Call the airline in advance to confirm what you’re allowed to bring on board and whether they handle special requests. There may be special procedures for handling medications.
- Allow yourself extra time in an airport. Delays can happen if a security screener isn’t familiar with your supplies.
- Have your supplies with you. Keep them in a carry-on bag that’s always available.
- Be prepared for delays and cancellations. They often happen. Be sure to have extra snacks – including fast-acting carbs – so you have plenty to eat even if there’s a delay.
- Plan to monitor your blood sugar more frequently. This will help you handle the changes in activity levels and meal times.
- Check with the airline before traveling about the timing of meals. Ask about ordering a meal that’s low in carbs, cholesterol, and fat.
- Inform those traveling with you or your flight attendant that you have diabetes.
Additional Travel Tips
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind while traveling:
- Look up new foods you’ll be eating. Try to estimate the carbs and calories before having a new meal.
- Enjoy those newer foods in moderation.
- Look for healthy meal options whenever possible.
- Avoid leaving insulin anywhere that may have temperature changes.
- Check your blood glucose more often. You may be eating out more, shifting mealtimes, and being more active. Testing more often helps you stay on track.
- Take it easy after a long flight to let your body adjust.
- Work to keep your schedule of insulin doses and mealtimes.
- Have snacks with you when sightseeing. Don’t just assume you’ll always find food.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Check your feet daily for any scratches, cuts, blisters, swelling, or redness.
The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.