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When planning a trip with diabetes, the very first step is to consult with your healthcare provider, diabetes educator or endocrinologist. This initial consultation is essential because it sets the foundation for a safe and well-prepared journey. Here's what you should do:
Schedule a Healthcare Appointment: Make an appointment with your healthcare provider well in advance of your trip. This appointment should ideally take place several weeks before your departure to allow time for any necessary adjustments to your diabetes management plan.
Discuss Your Travel Plans: During your healthcare appointment, discuss your travel plans in detail with your healthcare provider. Be prepared to provide information about the destination, the duration of your trip, and any specific activities or challenges you anticipate during your travels.
Review Medications and Supplies: Review your current diabetes medications, insulin regimen, and any other prescribed treatments with your healthcare provider. Ensure that your prescriptions are up to date, and discuss any changes or adjustments that may be needed while traveling.
Note; always ask for a larger insulin prescription because insulin needs are typically higher due to the stresses of traveling, being out of your regular routine, and unfamiliar foods may require more insulin. Also, if you wear an insulin pump and it is ripped off while on vacation due to the fun activities you’re involved in, all of that insulin is also wasted. If your glucagon Emergency kit is expired be sure to ask for a new one.
Discuss Time Zone Changes: If your trip involves crossing multiple time zones, ask your healthcare provider for guidance on adjusting your insulin or medication schedule to accommodate the time difference.
Request Necessary Documentation: Ask your healthcare provider for a written prescription for your diabetes medications and insulin, as well as a letter explaining your medical condition and the need for these items during travel. This documentation can be essential in case you encounter any issues with airport security or customs.
Discuss Blood Sugar Monitoring: Review your blood sugar monitoring plan with your healthcare provider. Discuss how often you should check your blood sugar while traveling and what target ranges you should aim for.
Note: Generally, healthcare providers may suggest maintaining BG levels slightly above the normal range when traveling, as the journey can be uncertain and it's safer to have slightly elevated levels than to risk them being too low.
Plan for Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia: Talk to your healthcare provider about how to recognize and manage episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) while traveling. Discuss strategies for treating these situations and what to do in emergencies.
It's always wise to have more treatment options on hand than you think you might need. It's better to be overly prepared than to find yourself in a bind. Ensure that you have water and electrolytes accessible to assist in managing elevated blood sugar levels.
Receive Vaccination Recommendations: If your travel destination requires specific vaccinations, inquire about any potential interactions with your diabetes medications. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on vaccinations and their impact on blood sugar levels.
Discuss Dietary Considerations: If your trip involves changes in diet or dining options, talk to your healthcare provider about how to manage your meals and carbohydrate intake. They can provide dietary recommendations to help you maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Ask About Local Healthcare Resources: Inquire about healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and healthcare professionals at your destination. Your healthcare provider may be able to provide recommendations or resources to ensure you have access to necessary medical care if needed.
When flying, it's essential to familiarise yourself with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) /security regulations regarding what you can and cannot carry with you. This includes understanding the guidelines for bringing medical supplies like insulin, syringes, and glucagon kits. Making sure you have all the necessary documentation and being prepared for any additional screenings can help make your travel experience smoother and stress-free.
By taking these initial steps and consulting with your healthcare provider, you can establish a solid foundation for managing your diabetes during your travels. It's essential to proactively address any concerns or adjustments to your diabetes management plan to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Kelsie Patterson courageously faced her own diagnosis of type 1 diabetes with determination and drive, pushing her to pursue a multi-disiplinary approach to become a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care & Educator Specialist, and Certified Personal Trainer. Her passion for helping others motivated her to start "The Diabetes Dietitian" where she works directly with people managing type 1 diabetes to gain control over their blood sugars in order to achieve any life goals.