Travel requires extra care. Plan your trip carefully, and consider the physical impact of changes in everything from climate to diet.
As you plan, consider:
- What medicines and medical supplies you will need
- Access to medical care, should you need it
- Emergency insurance coverage
And if you are treated with pills that release insulin from the pancreas (insulin secretagogues) or insulin:
- The effect of time zone changes on your diurnal pattern: How this affects the timing and dose of your medications or insulin.
- Different foods: How this makes carbohydrate counting more challenging.
- Change in activity (more or less than normal): How this will it be more or less than normal? And how that will affect your diabetes medication or insulin dose?
Discuss your travel plans with your provider. Go over how you may need to adjust your insulin dose for safe travel.
PLANNING A TRIP? KNOW HOW TRAVEL CAN AFFECT YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS AND HOW YOU MANAGE YOUR DIABETES.
Be sure to pack:
- Travel letter stating need for access to diabetes supplies
- Prescription labels for all your medications, including insulin
- Medical identification for diabetes and allergies
- “Backup” prescriptions
- List of all medications with instructions
- Blood glucose monitoring supplies:
- extra meter
- test strips
- lancing device
- Ketone testing supplies
- Quick-acting carbs
- Prescription for antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine
- Emergency contact information: name, telephone numbers, email, etc.
And, if you are treated with insulin, don’t forget:
- Insulin injection supplies – syringes, insulins, insulin pens and needles, dosing instructions; for insulin pumps, see below
- Glucagon emergency kit
- Sharps container
Points about pumps
Special points about insulin pumps
- Consider taking an extra insulin pump, especially if traveling abroad. Contact pump company for a loaner pump.
- Pump supplies: Take extra supplies!
- Reservoir cartridges
- Infusion sets
- Skin site preparation supplies
- Insulin and syringes and dosing instructions in case the pumps breaks.
When passing through security checkpoints:
- Inform security screeners that you wear an insulin pump and are carrying diabetes supplies.
- Understand that your insulin pump may trigger metal detectors. Do not disconnect your insulin pump for inspection.
There is no one rule to adjusting insulin when traveling. It depends on the type of insulin you’re taking, the time zone changes and the time of day of the trip. Figure this out well ahead of time with your medical provider.
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