Tips for travelling with diabetes
Diabetes isn't a barrier to travel, but people with diabetes travelling on holiday or for business usually need to do some extra planning.
Changes in meal patterns, holiday food, activity and time zones can affect your blood sugar levels.
Here are some tips to make travelling easier.
Before you leave
- Even if travelling within Europe where an EHIC card gains access to local doctors and hospitals, travel insurance is still essential. The insurance company needs to know about your diabetes and any other health conditions otherwise it may not pay out in the event of a claim.
- Make an appointment with your diabetes team to discuss your travel plans and to see if any special precautions or medication changes are needed while flying or in a different climate.
- Get twice as many supplies needed to travel and bring an extra prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining that you have diabetes and whether you need to carry syringes and insulin on board a flight, Some GPs may charge for writing this letter, so ask for it to cover multiple trips.
- If you use an insulin pump or use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), make sure your airline will allow this to be used during a flight, Check with the pump or monitor manufacturer whether the device is safe to go through an X-ray machine.
- If you need travel vaccinations plan to get them well in advance of your holiday. Some of these jabs can upset your blood sugar levels.
- Tell the airlines or cruise ships that you have diabetes and have special dietary needs.
- If you think you may need to obtain insulin while abroad, contact the manufacturer to check it is available at your destination and whether it has a different name there.
- Be prepared. Know what facilities are available within the region that you will be travelling in.
What should I bring with me?
- Pack extra snacks to cover the journey and possible delays. Always carry some type of sugar or glucose supply in case you develop hypoglycaemia or a ‘hypo’.
- Carry a basic first aid kit
- Take contact details for your diabetes care team with you.
- Bring a list of current medications and keep it with you at all times.
- It is a good idea to wear medical identification or carry an ID card that says that you have diabetes.
- To guard against baggage going missing or being damaged, keep medications, syringes and blood sugar testing supplies in your hand luggage. Some people take an extra precaution and ask a partner or travelling companion to carry some supplies to guard against hand luggage being lost or stolen.
- Take enough medication and medical supplies to last an extra week in case of delays or needing to stay longer than planned.
- Test your blood sugar more often than usual.