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Travelling with diabetes: Top 5 tips for a safe and enjoyable journey

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If you are planning to travel, pack enough test strips, lancets, and needles

Enjoying adventure and unforgettable experiences is what travel is all about. Yet, for those navigating life with diabetes, the thought of venturing far from home can bring a mix of excitement and apprehension.

How do you manage your condition effectively while exploring new places? Can you still enjoy the spontaneity of travel without compromising your health? The answer is a resounding yes –with the right preparation, travelling with diabetes can be as free and fulfilling as it is for anyone else.

To help, below are 5 top tips for a safe and enjoyable journey, so you can manage your diabetes confidently, no matter where your travels take you.

Tip #1 – Comprehensive Planning

Rather than just packing your bags and setting off, it’s always best to plan well so you can enjoy a stress-free and enjoyable trip. Before you start planning your itinerary, arrange to visit your GP or healthcare provider. This visit is crucial for several reasons:

  • Adjusting your medication – Travel, especially across time zones, can disrupt your medication schedule as well as your blood glucose levels. Your GP can help adjust your insulin or medication timing to match your travel plans[i].
  • Medical letter – Obtain a letter from your GP detailing your diabetes management plan, medications, and any devices you use (like an insulin pump). This document is essential as some airlines may request it and will help just in case you need medical care while travelling or in the event you lose any medication[ii].

Running out of supplies when you’re miles away from home is a scenario you want to avoid if you can help it. The NHS website has a helpful checklist to help you pack, which includes:

  • Medication and insulin – Bring at least three times the amount you think you’ll need of insulin and any glucose tablets. Unexpected delays can happen, and having extra means you’re covered.
  • Testing supplies – Pack enough test strips, lancets, and needles. Pack insulin pens if you use a pump – this is just in case it stops working for any reason.
  • Cooling solutions for insulin – Look for cooling packs or insulin cooling cases to keep it at the right temperature and avoid it getting too hot.
  • Hypoglycaemia treatment – Always have quick-acting glucose sources like glucose tablets or gels, just in case. Hot and cold weather can increase the chances of hypoglycaemia.

Packing your diabetes supplies

  • Carry-on luggage – Always pack your supplies and insulin in your carry-on luggage. Checked baggage can be lost or subjected to temperature extremes that can damage insulin. Let security know if you have a pump as this will need to be checked separately rather than put through airport scanners or X-ray machines.
  • Organisation – Use clear, waterproof bags to organise your supplies. This makes it easier to find what you need and to show airport security if needed. It’s best to keep your medicines and equipment in two separate bags, just in case one does go missing.
  • Snacks – Pack snacks that can help manage your blood sugar levels, especially for long flights or any unexpected delays.

Planning well isn’t just about having what you need but about ensuring peace of mind. Knowing that you’re well-prepared and your diabetes management is taken care of allows you to focus on the excitement of your travels.

Tip #2 – Have the correct insurance coverage

Ensuring you have the right information and comprehensive travel insurance coverage can make all the difference in handling unforeseen situations smoothly. Travel insurance that specifically covers pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes is crucial as not all policies cover chronic conditions. Look for a policy that includes:

  • Medical care – Coverage for doctor visits and hospital stays.
  • Emergency evacuation – If you need to be transported to a facility with appropriate care.
  • Medication replacement – Coverage for replacing lost or damaged medication.

Research and compare policies to find one that best fits your travel needs, offering comprehensive coverage for diabetes-related incidents. Whilst doing so, you’ll also want to ensure you have a valid Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free to apply for online.

Being informed about your destination can also help you manage your diabetes more effectively while travelling. Consider:

  • Medical facilities – Familiarise yourself with the location of hospitals or clinics near where you’ll be staying, just in case you need medical attention.
  • Pharmacy locations – Know where to find a pharmacy in case you need to replenish supplies. It’s also helpful to know the generic names of your medications, as brand names can vary by country.

By staying informed and ensuring you have the right travel insurance coverage, you can ensure any challenges that come your way can be overcome without issue.

Tip #3 – Dietary management

Maintaining a balanced diet while exploring new cuisines is a key part of managing diabetes no matter where you end up in the world. Here’s how to enjoy local foods without compromising your health:

  • Plan ahead – Research restaurant menus and local dishes in advance to identify healthier options. Carry nutritious snacks to avoid high-sugar temptations and check the food on the plane – some airlines may offer a diabetic meal, but this may not have enough carbohydrates. It can be best to order the regular food options and have snacks in between meals on long-haul flights[iii].
  • Portion control – Enjoy local delicacies in moderation. Smaller portions can help manage blood sugar levels while allowing you to taste a variety of foods.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water, especially when on the go. Opt for water or sugar-free beverages over sugary drinks to stay hydrated without affecting your blood sugar.

Enjoying the local cuisine is a big part of the travel experience, and with a little planning, it can be both safe and satisfying.

Tip #4 – Regular monitoring and activity

Keeping a close eye on your blood sugar levels and staying active are vital while travelling. Here’s how to manage:

  • Blood sugar checks – Travel can disrupt your routine which will then affect your blood sugar levels. Regular monitoring helps you adjust as needed. Carry a travel-friendly glucose monitoring kit for convenience. Remember, the climate can affect insulin, with it absorbed faster in hot weather and slower in cold temperatures[iv].
  • Stay active – Incorporate physical activity into your sightseeing. Walking tours, cycling, or even swimming can help manage blood sugar levels.

Adapting to changes in activity and meals is easier with frequent checks. It ensures you can respond quickly to any highs or lows. Not only does staying active assist in diabetes management but it will also enrich your travel experience, allowing you to see and do more.

Tip #5 – Emergency preparedness

Being prepared for emergencies is essential when travelling whether you have diabetes or not. Here’s how to stay one step ahead and ensure you can get the help you need:

  • Medical ID – Wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace or carry an emergency ID card that indicates you have diabetes[v]. This simple step can speak for you in case you’re unable to communicate your health needs.
  • Emergency kit – Pack a diabetes emergency kit that includes glucose tablets or gel for low blood sugar, a copy of your prescription, and your doctor’s contact information. Ensure this kit is easily accessible at all times.

These preparations ensure that you, and those around you, can act quickly and efficiently in an unexpected situation. Keep your health and safety in mind during your travels and you’ll have no reason not to enjoy yourself.

With the five tips above, you should be prepared for your time away, but if you are looking for more information, visit diabetes.org.uk and diabetes.co.uk for further advice before you set off. Remember, every great holiday starts with a great plan – don’t let diabetes hold you back from an enjoyable trip.

 


DISCLAIMER – “Views Expressed DisclaimerViews and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of any other author, agency, organization, employer or company, including NEO CYMED PUBLISHING LIMITED, which is the publishing company performing under the name Cyprus-Mail…more


 

 

 

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