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Traveling with Diabetes

by IBD Medical on August 21, 2023

Traveling with Diabetes: A Comprehensive Guide to Staying Healthy on the Go

Traveling is a wonderful way to explore new places, experience diverse cultures, and create lasting memories. For individuals living with diabetes, embarking on a journey can be both exhilarating and challenging. However, with careful planning and adherence to a few essential tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip while managing your diabetes effectively. In this article, we'll cover a few points you need to know about traveling with diabetes, from pre-trip preparations to managing your condition during the journey and beyond.


  1. Consult Your Healthcare Team: Before you set off on your adventure, it's crucial to schedule a visit with your healthcare team. This includes your primary care physician and your endocrinologist or diabetes specialist. Inform them about your travel plans, and seek their advice on managing your diabetes during the trip. They can provide personalised recommendations and adjustments to your treatment plan, considering factors like time zone changes, activity levels, and diet variations.
  2. Carry Essential Medical Supplies: When packing for your trip, make a checklist of all the essential medical supplies you'll need. This typically includes insulin (or other prescribed medications), syringes or insulin pens, blood glucose monitoring kit, test strips, lancets, ketone testing supplies (if applicable), gluchews or other Hypo treat, and any other medications you regularly take. It's essential to have extra supplies in case of unexpected delays or loss of items. Remember to have the glucagon emergency kit on hand, ensure the insulin is kept cool and protected from the elements, carry electrolytes to ward off dehydration and DKA, and don't forget to bring extra pump/cgm overpatches.
  3. Pack a Travel Health Kit: In addition to diabetes-specific supplies, put together a travel health kit containing bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any other over-the-counter medications you might need. This kit will come in handy for minor injuries or illnesses that can occur while traveling.
  4. Keep Medications and Supplies Handy: When flying or traveling by any means, always keep your diabetes medications and supplies in your carry-on luggage. This ensures that you have access to them at all times and prevents any issues in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed, a letter from your GP mentioning the medication and medical supplies that you need to carry with you can always come in handy and save you time in some airports.
  5. Learn Travel-Related Phrases: If you're traveling to a country where English or your native language isn't widely spoken, take the time to learn some essential travel-related phrases in the local language. This will be particularly helpful in communicating your diabetes needs to locals or healthcare professionals, should the need arise.
  6. Monitor Blood Glucose Regularly: During your trip, it's essential to monitor your blood glucose levels regularly, especially when crossing time zones or engaging in physical activities. Traveling and changing routines can impact your blood sugar levels, so be prepared to make adjustments to your insulin dosage or meal plan based on the readings.
  7. Be Mindful of Time Zone Changes: If you're crossing multiple time zones, talk to your healthcare team about adjusting your insulin schedule accordingly. They can guide you on how to gradually transition to the new time zone to minimize disruptions in your diabetes management.
  8. Stay Hydrated and Mind Your Diet: Traveling often involves changes in diet and eating habits. Be cautious about trying new foods in large quantities, as they may affect your blood sugar levels. Aim for well-balanced meals and stay hydrated throughout your journey, especially if you're spending long hours exploring or on the move.
  9. Inform Travel Companions: If you're traveling with others, ensure they are aware of your diabetes and know what to do in case of an emergency. Educate them on recognizing signs of low or high blood sugar and how to help you if needed.
  10. Prioritise Physical Activity: While traveling, seize the opportunity to engage in physical activities that you enjoy. Walking tours, hiking, swimming, and other exercises not only enhance your travel experience but can also help regulate your blood sugar levels.
  11. Be Prepared for Emergencies: Research and note down the nearest medical facilities and emergency contact numbers at your travel destination. Also, wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that indicates you have diabetes. In case of any health complications, this can provide crucial information to first responders.
  12. Plan for Special Situations: If your travel plans include activities like scuba diving or mountain climbing, consult your doctor to ensure they are safe for individuals with diabetes. Some activities may require extra precautions or adjustments to your diabetes management plan.

Traveling with diabetes may require some extra planning and preparation, but it shouldn't deter you from exploring the world. With the right mindset, along with the guidance of your healthcare team and adherence to the tips mentioned in this comprehensive guide, you can embark on unforgettable journeys while effectively managing your diabetes. Remember, a well-prepared traveler is a healthy traveler, so pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and make cherished memories on the road!

If you with to learn a bit more about traveling with diabetes we found the below articles quite useful and we hop you will as well! Happy travels :-)



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.


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