Do not let Diabetes act as a spanner in the works when a little bit of planning and some tips can help you travel hassle free
Life is a journey and diabetes a companion which travels along with you wherever you go. When you are travelling with diabetes you have to take the needs of your diabetes into consideration to travel safe and enjoy travel and good health. Planning is the best way to make sure that you enjoy the experiences of travelling to new places or visiting family and friends or going for a business trip or a pilgrimage.
10 tips for a wonderful travelling experience:
- Always carry your diabetes supplies with you, in your handbag or in a place easily accessible whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile. Have more than enough of diabetes supplies with you, in case of extra stay or emergency, it would help you. It is always good to carry a prescription letter from your doctor, listing name of the medication you use. Don’t forget to include on the prescription letter items such as blood glucose testing equipment and syringes. This would help you if your diabetes supplies are lost or stolen. These prescriptions will also help you through security checkpoints at airports also. Do not think you can go without medicines for even a single day. High blood sugar levels even for short duration can make you tired, exhausted and more prone to any acute sickness along with being a reason for long-term complications.
- Make sure you pack your medicines in right environment. Keep your insulin in a cool pouch. Do not keep insulin in direct sun, glove compartment of car or any hot place. Extreme temperatures can de-nature your medications and test supplies and reduce the potency of your insulin. Try to keep your insulin in a cool, dark place. Insulin pens are a better bet while travelling rather than vials.
- In general, you should stick with the exact brand and formulation of insulin that you have been prescribed by your doctor. If you are travelling abroad, carry enough insulin with you. In different countries insulin of different strengths is available like U-100 , U-80 or U-40. If you need to use these insulins, you must buy new syringes to match the new insulin to avoid a mistake in your insulin dose. U-100 insulin should be taken with U-100 syringe. If flying abroad, keep track of your insulin shots and meals through changing time zones. You can do this by calculating hours with your home time zone until the morning after you arrive. For doing this you can take help of your doctor or diabetes educator.
- Along with medication, you must carry along good amount of supply of glucose, sugar or hard candies to treat hypoglycaemia. Always carry some dry snacks such as biscuits in your hand bag, as you never know when you will be delayed, or when you’ll be stuck at some place for an extra hour or two. Don’t assume you will be able to find food wherever you are. If possible take some healthy food along with you, such as a sandwich or any meal, in case meals aren’t available from elsewhere. Always, have a water bottle with you when you are out. We all feel thirsty and water helps prevent dehydration in case of high blood sugars.
- When you fly or you are in hotel or going to stay at friends or relatives place, you can request a special meal low in sugar and fat. Make your request in advance. If you take insulin, wait until you see your food coming before you take your shot. Otherwise, a delay in the meal could lead to low blood glucose. Modern insulin which do not require a waiting period of 30 minutes before injection as in human insulin and can be injected even after eating is a better option for having a good control of diabetes. Ask for a list of ingredients for unfamiliar foods. Some foods may hurt your diabetes control. Those with diabetes are generally not more prone to gastric upsets but the consequences can be more serious. For example, vomiting can lead to hypoglycaemia due to reduced calorie intake while more severe diarrhoeal illnesses especially if associated with fever may lead to hyperglycaemia and ketosis in those dependant on insulin.
- Checking your blood glucose while travelling is as important as when you are at home. While travelling, check your sugars more frequently as different schedules and unknown foods can cause sugars to fluctuate. Moving on and physical effort made by people with diabetes also can have impact on blood-sugar. Do discuss this with your doctor and also how to manage it. If you inject insulin while in flight, be careful not to inject air into the insulin bottle. In pressurised cabin, pressure differences can cause you to measure insulin inaccurately. Also, check your blood glucose level as soon as possible after landing. Jet lag can make it hard to tell if you have very low or very high blood glucose.
- If you are planning to go for a long trip or planning a pilgrimage, it is important to go for medical examination and consult your doctor about one month before going, as then you would have time to control your diabetes before your travel.
- Wear appropriate clothing according to the season and comfortable shoes in order to provide you good protection. During travel make sure shoes are not too tight as feet can swell. It is very important to take care of the shoes you wear if you are a person with diabetes. Take care of your feet, including hygiene and injury. Avoid walking barefoot, wear protective footwear on the sand and in the water. Check your feet twice daily. If you notice any injury, soreness or swelling you should see a doctor.
- Have a diabetes identification bracelet or card with you. In addition to identifying you as having diabetes, this identification can provide a small note on treating low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), emergency contact information. This can help you in case of emergency such as accidents or hypoglycaemia especially when you are among unknown people. If possible, your co-travellers should know of your condition especially symptoms of low blood sugar levels, so that they can help you at the time of need.
- Along with that, do discuss and take first-aid medicines along with you for fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and other acute illnesses.
Try to stick to your routine even while travelling. With proper preparation there is no reason why the trip cannot be a pleasurable and a rewarding experience. Remember to take your self-care and you can travel safely.
- Insulin, syringes, blood glucose meter, test strips, lancets.
- Prescriptions for medications and testing supplies.
- Treatment for hypoglycemia
- Non-perishable snacks like biscuits
- First-aid medications which includes band-aid, antiseptic cream, cotton,
- gauze pieces and soap.
- Medical ID