Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, and travelling with type 1 diabetes can make things even harder. But fear not - here are JDRF's top 10 travel tips to help you on your way.
1. Do your research
Before you book your holiday, find out where the nearest hospital is with appropriate medical facilities. If you are travelling with a child with type 1, make sure the hospital treats paediatric diabetes. Get the name and number of a doctor who speaks English in the area. Make sure your travel insurance covers emergency treatment of issues related to diabetes. To avoid problems with security, ask your healthcare team for a letter confirming you have type 1 diabetes and specifying the supplies you need to carry on the plane.
2. Take time-zone changes into account
Discuss time-zone changes with your diabetes team so you can adjust insulin doses accordingly.
3. Buy cooling packs to store insulin in
Cooling packs are great for keeping insulin supplies cool in hot weather while you are out and about. Transfer insulin to a refrigerator as soon as you can.
Medical equipment that is! Make sure you have three times as much medical equipment as you expect to use, including insulin, test strips, glucagon, glucose tablets, lancets, needles and set change equipment. Pump users should take pens and insulin cartridges in case of a pump failure, along with manufacturers’ helpline numbers for any countries being visited. Carry emergency supplies when going on all day excursions or travelling far from the hotel.
5. Bring spares
Make sure you bring a spare meter, and pack spare batteries if you use a pump.
6. Divide supplies
Divide your medical supplies into two and pack them in separate carry-on bags in case you lose one.
7. Avoid packing medical supplies in hold baggage
The temperature in hold baggage can drop to freezing - take your medical supplies onto the flight in your hand luggage.
8. Stock up on snacks for the journey
Always pack extra snacks and hypo treatments for the journey and excursions, especially if you dislike aeroplane food. Never rely on finding a place to purchase snacks.
9. Prepare for extra tests
You may need to do extra tests while on holiday to cope with different foods and levels of activity - be prepared.
10. Prepare for varying insulin doses
You may need to vary insulin doses for very active holidays or holidays in unfamiliar climates. If swimming for extended periods, test blood regularly. Night-time blood sugars tend to drop after periods of prolonged aerobic exercise so beware of night-time lows. Insulin absorption is more rapid in a hot climate so beware of after-meal low blood sugars followed by a spike up. If you are on a pump, use the dual or square wave function.
If you would like any more information about travelling with type 1 diabetes, visit www.voyagemd.com