Whether you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, traveling should only be considered if your diabetes is under complete control. The key to the success of your trip lies above all in its preparation. It is inevitable that we have to travel for one reason or another, and while having diabetes can be troublesome, you can still be ready and prepared, which is why we've made this guide to help you get ready!
How to travel as a diabetic
Prepare for your trip, transport, and activities beforehand. You can purchase travel insurance if something were to happen that would make you miss your flight.
Prepare for the trip with your doctor
Be sure to visit your doctor and ask them if you can travel. Ask about the foreseeable risks, insulin doses, medications, etc. Inform your doctor about your travel plan so they can best guide your trip accordingly. Your doctor can also write a letter that you can take with you just in case.
If your diabetes is treated with tablets, your doctor will educate you on the risks of hypoglycemia during your trip. Additionally, your doctor will ensure that you have a sufficient and complete supply of insulin, test strips, and syringes. If you use diabetes monitoring applications like Dexcom, be sure that they are in working condition before leaving. Since your transmitter needs to be replaced about every 3 weeks or so, be sure to have that replaced before leaving. If you're going for an extended period of time, bring multiple transmitters with you.
Things to take with you on your trip
It is essential to take some equipment and documents including:
- A diabetic card or medical ID bracelet
- The addresses of near-by embassies, consulates, emergency services, and hospitals
- Plenty of snacks and water bottles
- Good shoes for walking
- Adequate sun protection, suitable clothing, a mosquito net, and repellents in areas at risk of malaria
Plan your stay while taking your condition into account
To travel as a diabetic, you must plan your stay by:
- Notifying the staff on board of your condition if you are traveling for an extended period. This way, they will know what to do, in case God-forbid something were to happen.
- Beware of a lengthy walk in the airport or train station.
- If you are traveling by car, take regular breaks and protect your insulin from direct sunlight.
Adapt your activities
The right precautions should be taken, especially if you're going to be doing any sort of exercising or sport activities while you're there. Keep in mind that the conditions of different countries are different from your place of departure (language, temperature, food, proximity to care facilities, etc). Additionally, note that high temperatures can adversely affect your insulin levels, which means that you might have to test your blood sugar more often if you don't use any diabetes monitoring devices.
It would be wise to learn some phrases so that natives can understand you when you need help.
Flying with Dexcom or other monitoring devices
If you use Dexcom to monitor your diabetes, be sure to read up on their guide to flying. In summary, their article states that:
- You can pass through metal detectors with your Dexcom device
- Ask for an up-close inspection or pat down instead of going through body scanners
- Do not put your Dexcom device through X-rays
- Turn bluetooth on and switch to airplane mode, be sure to also keep the receiver on to continue receiving glucose information
- Download and print a "Notice of Medical Device" form that can be filled out by your physician and given to airport security
In conclusion, diabetes doesn't have to be a barrier to travel, provided that your diabetes is under control and that you take the needed precautions.