Travelling with Diabetes

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Whether for work or pleasure, travel can and should be fun. And having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the experience. It is estimated that around 8.5% of the world’s adult population have some form of diabetes*, which means there lots of people out there who manage their condition globally. With good planning, your trip can be safe, fun and hassle-free whether you’re travelling domestically or overseas. To help, we’ve put together our top advice for those travelling with diabetes.

Before you book

Before locking down any wild adventure plans, it’s crucial for your safety that you make sure your diabetes is stable. As a multi-system disease, diabetes can impact more than just your blood sugar levels and instability in your health can actually make you more prone to contracting viruses and infections. To be safe, speak to your medical professional about your plans and get the all clear before you book.

Pack with a plan

When flying, particularly on long-haul flights, you will need to be prepared to take your diabetes supplies with you in your hand luggage. People with diabetes are exempt to some of the regular restrictions airport security enforces in regard to liquid limits and sharp objects, however you do need the documentation to avoid any hassles. To cruise through customs and security make sure:

  • Your name is on all insulin and/or Glucagon script labels.
  • You have a script for all medications you are carrying with each script clearly identifying your name, the name and type of your medication and your doctor’s contact details.
  • You have a letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and any medications you take and the devices you use for your insulin and blood glucose testing, such as insulin pens, syringes and needles or pump unit.
  • If possible, carry your National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) card or equivalent as further proof that you use insulin to manage your diabetes then you need to carry your diabetes equipment.

Timing your insulin through time zones

Travelling through time-zones can be one of the most challenging parts of managing your diabetes and ensuring your body receives the right dosage of insulin. As a general rule of thumb, you can change the time of your injections and meals by up to two hours in a day without adjusting your insulin dose or your meal plan. If you lose more than two hours in your travel day, you may need to take fewer units of intermediate or long-acting insulin but if you gain more than two hours, you may need to take extra units of short-acting insulin and more food. However, you must speak to your medical professional about your condition and travel plans prior to altering doses so that you have a contemporary authorised medical plan.

Be aware when trying new things

Travelling to a new destination can provide you with the chance to try a wide range of new things, one of the most enjoyable being food. New foods and an increased intake of alcohol however can have different impacts on your blood glucose levels which is important to be aware of when you are administering your insulin. In new places where you’re out of your usual routine, testing your blood sugar levels more often may be required to get your insulin dosage correct.

Travelling with diabetes, does mean you travel with risk. But working in consultation with your doctor, preparing and acting responsibly while you’re away can all help ensure you have an enjoyable and hassle-free trip, just like anyone else.