How to Travel with Diabetes: Supplies & Tips | Cornerstones4Care®

Traveling With Diabetes

For many people, traveling is one of the highlights of their lives. Whether you’re spending a weekend at a bed and breakfast or flying to an exotic location, diabetes doesn’t need to keep you from traveling or having an active lifestyle. With careful planning, you can manage your diabetes just as well as you do at home.

Tips for traveling with diabetes

Before you leave:

  • Make an appointment with your health care provider at least 4 weeks before you go on any trip planned to last more than a few days to make sure your diabetes is well controlled. Be sure to ask for extra prescriptions in case you need to replace or get additional medicines while you're away
  • Discuss with your health care provider how changes in your schedule, meals, and time zone could affect your blood sugar. Also ask whether you need to change how often you check your blood sugar
  • Take along extra syringes, prescription pens, also known as prefilled pens, meter test strips and other supplies, as well as a good supply of snacks
  • If you use a vial and syringe and travel often, you may want to ask your diabetes care team if a prefilled pen might be right for you
  • Pack extra medicine and think about where you will store it. Check your patient information for storage instructions
  • Wear your Medical ID at all times. The ID can provide critical information about your health. Be sure the information is written in the language of every country you'll be visiting
  • Don't forget your emergency glucagon medicine, antidiarrheal medication, antibiotic ointment, anti-nausea drugs, blood and urine testing supplies, and extra batteries for your glucose meter

While you travel:

  • Keep a well-wrapped, air-tight snack pack with both rapid-acting and slow-acting carbs. Smart choices are packets of nuts, cheese and crackers, fruit, and glucose tablets or hard candies that you can chew quickly
  • Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Check your feet every day. Look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling, and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation
  • If you take insulin, be sure to never leave it where it may get too hot or too cold. Always keep it in a cool, dry place. If you'll be out in the heat, store your medication in an insulated travel pack. Ask for a refrigerator to store medication and foods that need to be kept cool when you check into your hotel
  • If you're traveling abroad, prepare a list of English-speaking foreign doctors from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). They can be reached at 716-754-4883. Or, contact the American Consulate, American Express, or local medical schools for doctors
  • Have fun! Managing diabetes doesn't have to curb your vacation plans. Taking a break from the grind and your everyday routine is part of a healthy lifestyle

When traveling with insulin by plane or train:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that you carry supplies in the original packaging with the original prescription labels. Also be sure your meter has the manufacturer's name (maker of the product) on it
  • Take all of your diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag. That way you'll have them with you in case your checked bags get lost
  • Request a diabetic meal. If the meals are not available, you may want to carry snacks and buy meals for your flight
  • Remember to keep lancets capped

Check if airport security will allow you to take all diabetes-related medicine and supplies with you, such as:

  • Insulin pumps and supplies
  • Other injectable diabetes medicines
  • Emergency kit to be used for severe low blood sugar
  • A hard-surface container for used syringes
  • Liquids (including water or juice)

Find out if there are any special rules you should be aware of. And allow for extra time to get through security.

NEXT: Some helpful resources for people with type 1 diabetes

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Fact sheet also available in Spanish