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Living with Diabetes

Traveling Abroad with Diabetes: Your Go-To Guide

1/26/2022 by mySugr

Traveling Abroad with Diabetes: Your Go-To Guide

Traveling abroad offers an excellent time to leave your routine behind — that’s a huge part of what makes it fun. But traveling, different mealtimes, time zone changes, eating new foods, and being more active can all be disruptive to your diabetes management plan.

That doesn’t mean you have to abandon your plans to travel, though. The key is to know what to expect, plan ahead, and 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 and set it in stone, here are a few tips to follow before you travel and as you plan.

  • Tip #1 – Head to Your Doctor – Have a checkup to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. It’s a great idea to talk to your diabetes care team about:
    • How activities you want to engage in on the trip may affect your diabetes
    • How you should adjust insulin doses if you’ll be traveling to another time zone
    • If any vaccines are needed for where you’re traveling
    • Ask for a letter that says you have diabetes and emphasizes the necessity of your medical supplies
  • Tip #2 – Find Pharmacies and Clinics – As you consider where you’ll travel, look for local pharmacies and clinics nearby. That way you know you have access to care and medicines if you need them.
  • Tip #3 – Purchase Travel Insurance – When you book your trip, purchase travel insurance. It’ll kick in if you need medical care or miss a flight.
  • Tip #4 – Consider a Medical ID Bracelet – It should state that you have diabetes and list any other health issues you have.

Packing for Your Trip

When packing to travel abroad, pack with preparedness in mind. It’s a good idea to have twice as much medicine and supplies as likely needed. Half of these items (and all insulin) should go in a carry-on bag that can be carried personally 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 to help treat low blood glucose (i.e., peanut butter crackers, juice box, hard candy, cheese, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face coverings/masks

NOTE: Ensure you leave labels on supplies and medicines. They may be required at security checkpoints when traveling.

Tips for Flying with Diabetes

If you’ll be flying to your destination, you’ll need to keep a few tips in mind.

  • Consider calling the airline in advance to confirm what you’re allowed to bring on board and whether they handle special requests. Some airlines may have special procedures for handling your medicines.
  • 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 in a carry-on bag you’ll have with you the entire time.
  • 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 a delay occurs.
  • Plan to monitor your blood sugar more frequently as you travel. 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

Additional tips to remember while traveling include:

  • Look up new foods you’ll be eating. Try to estimate the carbs and calories before having a new meal if possible.
  • Enjoy those newer foods in moderation.
  • Look for healthy meal options whenever possible.
  • Avoid leaving insulin anywhere that may have temperature changes while traveling.
  • Continue checking blood glucose more often during a trip. You may be eating out more, shifting mealtimes, and being more active. Testing more often can help you stay on track.
  • Plan to take it easy after a long flight to let your body adjust.
  • As you plan activities, 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.
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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.


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