Diabetes and Travel: Your Comprehensive Guide


Embarking on a journey with diabetes? Here’s your complete guide to ensuring a smooth and worry-free trip:

1. Flying with Diabetes:
For those with type 1 diabetes, flying presents unique challenges. A doctor’s note is often necessary to carry sharps. Consider how time zones may impact medication schedules and consult your diabetic team for a management plan.

2. Travel Insurance:
Ensure your travel insurance explicitly covers diabetes. Regardless of control levels, inform the insurer about your condition. Early booking allows time for policy documentation to arrive, covering potential medical emergencies or trip interruptions.

3. Documentation and Proof:
Carry insulin and medications with a doctor’s letter explaining their necessity. Have copies for airline staff and know airport security requirements. Be proactive and contact the airport or border security for specific documentation needs.

4. Medication Supplies:
Pack twice the amount of medication needed, including backups. Distribute supplies in different places, and keep a suitable amount in your hand luggage in case of delayed checked baggage.

5. Access to Medication:
UK citizens may not receive free medication services abroad. Be aware of emergency service numbers, diabetic associations, and check medication availability with the manufacturer.

6. Airport Security and Insulin Pumps:
Insulin pumps and CGMs can go through airport metal detectors but should not be X-rayed. Inform security and follow guidelines to ensure safe passage.

7. Climate Considerations:
Adapt to insulin absorption changes in warm climates, and keep testing strips protected. Be cautious of hypoglycemia risks in hot weather and dehydration.

8. Journey Planning:
Consider the trip length and its impact on diabetes management. Discuss necessary adjustments with your diabetic team before departure.

9. Medical Identification:
Carry medical identification and inform travel companions of emergency procedures. Swift access to your details aids emergency services.

10. Eating on the Plane:
“Diabetic meals” on airlines may not be optimal. Plan your food intake and inquire in advance about the glucose content in such meals.

11. Insulin Storage:
Prevent insulin damage by carrying it in hand luggage, especially in cold temperatures. Store insulin in a hotel fridge or cool bag upon arrival, particularly in hot climates.

12. Blood Glucose Meters at Altitude:
Be aware of potential glucometer inaccuracies at high altitudes. Keep your meter warm and take readings in the shade for accurate results.

13. Time Zones and Medication:
For time zone changes, seek advice from your healthcare team. Minor changes may be needed for insulin, tablets, or other medications.

14. Medication Doses:
Consider climate, food availability, and activity levels when adjusting medication doses. Consult your diabetic team if uncertain.

15. Diabetes Associations:
Make a note of diabetes associations in the countries you visit for emergency reference.

Traveling with diabetes is manageable with careful planning. Consult your healthcare team for personalized advice, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey. Safe travels!