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Tips for travelling with diabetes

Date Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019


Planning and preparation will help people living with diabetes to relax and enjoy a stress free trip.  


Take twice the usual supplies for the time away

This includes vials of insulin (or pens), pump and sensor supplies, strips for a glucometer, as well as a second glucometer. Don’t forget ketostix and extra batteries!

Bring a letter from the doctor and prescriptions

Some medications are not available in other countries. Locate pharmacies close to where you’ll be staying, just in case medication gets lost. The letter should state that you have diabetes and require specific supplies.

Food and drink

If driving, pack a cooler with healthy foods and plenty of water.

Pack all medication in carry on luggage

Keep medication in the pharmacy bottles that they came in. If traveling with others, divide the medical supplies so that each person has some in case a carry on gets lost. Be aware of temperature changes. Insulin should be kept in an insulated bag with a cold pack to keep it at room temperature. If the temperature is frigid, consider wearing insulin close to the body in inside pockets.

When flying, inform TSA that you have diabetes

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) understands the need for supplies. People with diabetes are exempt from the 3.4 oz. liquid rule for medication, fast-acting carbs like juice, and gel packs to keep insulin cool. There's no reason to disconnect a continuous glucose monitor or insulin pump.  Request a a hand inspection as those items could get damaged going through the X-ray machine.  

If using an insulin pump, have a back-up plan in case of pump failure

Pump companies can also be contacted for loaner insulin pumps for travel in case of failure. Make sure to program the loaner pump with the proper settings.

Time zone changes

Understand how insulin doses may be impacted by changing time zones and devise a plan with your care team.


Frequent blood glucose checks

A change in routine always requires additional checks. If you’re going to be more active than usual, test your blood sugar before and after and make adjustments for food, activity, and insulin as needed.

Carry simple treatments

Glucose tablets, shot blocks and dried fruit are easy to transport and are quickly absorbed. Avoid juice which can spill, get too cold or hot. Bring snacks when hiking or sightseeing. Do not assume food will be available wherever you go.

Wear medical identification

A medical alert bracelet is easily recognizable for emergency personnel. People with diabetes, particularly those who use insulin, should have a medical ID with them at all times.

Proper footcare

Wear comfortable shoes and check your feet every day. Look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling and scratches. Seek medical attention at the first sign of infection or inflammation.

Hot weather

High temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. Never walk barefoot. Insulin should be carried in an insulated bag with a cold pack to keep it at room temperature. Get more hot-weather tips here

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