To overcome the challenges and frustrations handling diabetes (type 1 & 2) during travel, we have listed out 12 things that diabetic people can do.
1. Doctor’s visit
It is very important to consult your doctor and healthcare team before travelling as they could suggest necessary vaccinations or precautions for you.
2. Medical letter
It is wise to get a medical letter from your physician stating your current condition and treatment. It could be very helpful at airport security or in case of emergencies wherever you are. It is also advisable to get your emergency prescriptions written on it.
3. Pack your extra meds
Type1 diabetic people must pack sufficient insulin and test strips while the type 2 diabetic people need to carry their oral medications. It is always good to carry more than needed (may be twice as needed), just in case of emergencies. One could also carry a back insulin pump if need be.
4. Brace up for that airport security
Ensure to pack those insulin and insulin pumps separately so that it could be checked easily. Inform the screeners about the pump if you are already wearing it.
5. Note down the time zones
Since the medications are taken on regular schedule, it is very important to note down the time zone of the place where you are heading to. Plan in advance with your physician on how to adjust the time for medication, if there is a lot of difference in the time zone. Pump users can just reset their devices.
6. Difference in manufacturing Insulin
Insulin is sold at different concentrations in different countries. The units sold will vary like U-100, U-80 or U-40. So beware of this and buy syringes that match the new insulin concentration.
7. Don’t let the insulin overheat
Ensure your insulin is packed in insulation and is well protected especially if you are travelling to the tropical because if the insulin gets heated then it can lose its potency. Buy an insulin cooler or protective device when you are carrying a lot of insulin.
8. How do you find a doctor?
Ask yourself this question imagining the worst case scenario when are in a country which doesn’t speak any of the language you know. The Mayo Clinic recommends the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, which has a list of English-speaking overseas healthcare providers. You can visit the group online at iamat.org or call (716) 754-4883 for information if you live in America. Also, you could visit your country’s consulate or local medical college at the place where you are.
9. Record your blood sugar frequently
Don’t be under the impression that blood sugar levels connected to your diet and exercise. Travel could complicate things as the diet and exercise regime will vary. Plus there could be travel stress such as making your way in unfamiliar surroundings. Stress affects blood sugar too. So keep checking your blood sugar regularly and more often.
10. Look out for what you eat
The local cuisine in your travel can be tempting. But please look out for how much and what you eat. Do remember food restraint gives a good control over your diabetes. You could also do some research on nutrition level (especially the carbs and sugars) in the new food you are going to try out. More wiser if you write down before your trip.
11. Be open
Being open about your disease without any hesitation could sometimes be a lifesaver if at all you end up with complications due to high sugar level wherein you are unable to communicate! Yeah scary things could happen! A tip is to always carry your identification along with your disease details. You will be grateful if at all you face the worst!
12. Do not limit
Never limit your desires/goals that you dreamed of achieving in the trip. With smart planning you can always enjoy your travel to the fullest. Just find a balance between how you make your trip memorable and how you do your diabetes management on the go.