Top travel tips for people with diabetes
Studies show travelling can improve your overall health and there are few things in life more fun than planning a trip somewhere new, or back to a place you love.
When you live with diabetes there are a few extra considerations to take into account, but with careful planning you can travel as far, and wide, as you like.
Before you go
Ask your doctor for a letter outlining the following:
- Your medical condition/s
- Your diabetes medications (including dosage and how often you take them)
- Devices you use for diabetes (such as a blood glucose meter, lancet, insulin pens/syringes or insulin pump)
- The importance of you carrying your medications and hypo treatment with you at all times, especially if you are at risk of low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia or hypo)
- Your insulin pump/continuous blood monitor (if you use one) must not be removed – even when going through airport security
- Other medications
- Your sick day management
Take several copies of this letter or have it available on an electronic device (such as a smart phone or tablet). Present it at security checkpoints or medical services if necessary.
- Discuss your travel plans with your diabetes educator. Put together a sick day management kit before travelling, and make sure you pack it in your carry-on luggage.
If you are travelling overseas, think about whether the letter needs to be translated into the languages of your destinations, and consider the following:
- Any vaccinations you may require for the trip
- Travel insurance for both yourself and your belongings.
- Ensure your travel insurance (accident and health cover) is valid for both pre-existing conditions and the places you will visit
- If you use an insulin pump, consider insuring it beforehand
- Have clearly written details of your next-of-kin or family member
- Take the phone and email details of your doctor and diabetes educator (and those of your insulin pump company, if relevant)
- Always carry identification and consider wearing a Medic Alert ID or similar
- When travelling by air, put all your diabetes supplies in your carry-on luggage, preferably split between two carry-on bags
- If you are travelling in different time zones, ask your doctor, or diabetes educator, to prepare a plan for how to adjust the times and doses of your medications
- Have the contact details of relevant manufacturers and local diabetes associations in the countries you plan to visit, in case you need advice on local products or services
- If you use an insulin pump, some companies may lend you a spare pump
- Make sure you have a backup plan in case of pump failure. Take a copy of your pump settings for easy reference
What to pack
- A letter from your doctor
- Prescriptions of all your medications
- Sick day action plan
- Your NDSS card
- Insulin in a cool pack
- Insulin pens/syringes and needles
- Insulin pump, plus spare batteries and consumables
- Spare glucose meter and batteries
- Extra lancets and lancet device
- Basic first aid kit
- Travel size sharps container
- Hypo treatment, including carbohydrate snacks
Once you’re travelling
- Eat well and think about how different foods might affect you
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
- Check your blood glucose levels regularly
- Stay hydrated
- If flying, be prepared for delays or lost baggage (just in case!)
- Think about how different time zones and climates may affect you and how you manage your diabetes
- If something should go wrong, don’t panic – seek medical assistance
For more information on travelling with diabetes, speak with your doctor or diabetes educator, or call the Helpline on 1300 136 588.