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Have Diabetes? Get Tips for Safe Travels

Family on vacation in the mountainsPlan ahead for diabetes care even when you’re on vacation and traveling.

Getting out of your regular routine is part of the fun of vacation and traveling. But it's important to travel with your care routine, especially if you have diabetes.

Meals away from home, changes in how much physical activity you get, and differences in time zones as you travel can affect how well you manage diabetes. Use this time to be refreshed, lose the stress, and continue healthy habits. Before you hit the road, review these tips for taking care of yourself.

Don't Forget Your Medication

Pack twice the amount of diabetes supplies you expect to need, in case of travel delays. Have all syringes and insulin delivery systems (including vials of insulin) clearly marked with the pharmaceutical preprinted label that identifies the medications. Take copies of prescriptions with you. If you use insulin, make sure you also pack a glucagon emergency kit. Carry a card in your wallet that says you have diabetes and tells if you use medicine to treat it.

Family camping and looking at map

Plan ahead for stress-free travel and your health needs.

  • Keep snacks, glucose gel, or glucose tablets with you in case your blood glucose drops.
  • Make sure you keep your health insurance card and emergency phone numbers handy, including your doctor's name and phone number.
  • Wear medical identification that says you have diabetes.
  • Keep time zone changes in mind so you'll know when to take medication.
  • Find out where to get medical care if needed when away from home.

On the Road

Pack a small cooler of foods that may be difficult to find while traveling, such as fresh fruit and sliced raw vegetables. You can also pack dried fruit, nuts, and seeds as snacks. Since these foods can be high in calories, measure out small portions (¼ cup) in advance. Bring a few bottles of water instead of sugar-sweetened soda or juice.

  • If you're traveling with insulin, don't store it in direct sunlight or in a hot car. Keep it in a cooler, but do not place it directly on ice or on a gel pack.
  • Reduce your risk for blood clots by moving around every hour or two.
Mature couple walking

Stick with your exercise routine. Be sure to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

Air Travel

Plan ahead for both food and medical supplies on your flight. If a meal will be served during your flight, call ahead for a diabetic, low fat, or low cholesterol meal. If the airline doesn't offer a meal, bring a nutritious meal yourself. Place all diabetes supplies in carry-on luggage. Remember to pack snacks in case of flight delays. Keep medications and snacks at your seat for easy access: don't store them in overhead bins or checked luggage.

  • If you're flying and don't want to walk through the metal detector with your insulin pump, tell a security officer that you are wearing an insulin pump and ask them to visually inspect the pump and do a security pat-down.
  • When drawing up your dose of insulin, don't inject air into the bottle (the air on your plane will probably be pressurized).
  • Reduce your risk for blood clots by moving around every hour or two.

Staying Healthy

Before you leave on your trip, make sure you are up-to-date on immunizations . Talk with your doctor before increasing physical activity, such as going on a trip that will involve more walking. Also, work with your doctor to plan your timing for medicine, food, and activity. Talk about what to do if you find changes in your glucose readings.

Remember these healthy habits in your daily diabetes care routine

  • Changes in what you eat, activity levels, and time zones can affect your blood glucose. Check levels often.
  • Stick with your exercise routine. Be sure to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Protect your feet. Be especially careful of hot pavement by pools and hot sand on beaches. Never go barefoot.
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