As a diabetic backpacker, the idea that having type 1 diabetes may prevent me from doing what I wanted was never something I accepted. I have backpacked solo around the world for the past few years and whilst being a diabetic backpacker requires some additional planning, it is very achievable for those with the travel bug.
1. Take all your supplies with you
Accidents can happen at any time whilst traveling. Your luggage may be lost by an airline, your bag might be stolen, you may be pickpocketed. By carrying all of your diabetic supplies with you may be able to avoid the hassle of trying to find insulin, pump supplies, pen needles or test strips in a foreign country. If the worst happens and all your bags are lost or stolen, you will likely have no choice but to try and buy more supplies. However, bringing everything you will need with you could save a lot of time, money and hassle.
- Separate your supplies into different bags to reduce the risk of losing everything should something happen.
- If you are traveling with someone else, divide your supplies between you.
- Keep some of your supplies in a hostel locker and just take your day dosage out with you.
2. Carry a daypack with you everywhere
A small bag or backpack is great for keeping everything a diabetic traveller needs. As well as your money, camera, map and sunglasses a daypack can also hold your day's supply of insulin, snacks, sugar, drink bottle and anything else you may need.
3. Don't worry if your insulin is not in a fridge
My whole diabetic life doctors and pharmacists advised that my insulin must be stored in a refrigerator. However as a backpacker moving between cities and countries, often travelling on overnight buses or trains and sleeping in hostels, a refrigerator is not something I'm guaranteed to have access to. So whilst traveling, I have no choice but to carry my insulin with me in my backpack. Usually I take 1 year's supply of insulin on the road with me, which is around 40 insulin vials. In my experience after approximately 9 months of backpacking around the world in various climates and altitudes, the insulin I carried with me was completely fine without having been stored in a fridge.
4. Don't worry about injecting or BSL testing in front of others
Sitting in a cafe or restaurant with a group of new people and needing to inject or test a BSL can often be intimidating. But fear not. Often this is a great conversation starter as people are curious about what you're doing and likely know someone themselves who is a diabetic. Being open about your diabetes also makes people aware if you happen to start acting strangely due to a low sugar level.
5. Relax, everything will be fine
Setting off on an adventure to a new place as a type 1 diabetic can be stressful, especially if it is your first time. Worrying about how many supplies to take, where will you find emergency sugar, where your next meal is coming from and how you will cope if you have a low sugar levels are very normal concerns. My best advice is to relax, everything will be fine. Traveling is about learning to adapt and go with the flow. It is guaranteed that at some point things will not go as expected, actually this will probably happen a lot. Don't worry, stress will make everything, including diabetes worse. All you can do is prepare as best you can, deal with issues as they arise, and have a fun, exciting time during your travels!
Author: Carly Newman from http://thewanderlustdays.com/
In 2014, Carly left her perfectly good life in Australia (new house, nice job, friends, family and cat) to set off on a solo trip around the world. She fell so in love with the traveler lifestyle she decided not to stop! Follow her on her Travel Blog as she moves country to country and read about what she's doing, where she's staying, the people she's meeting and what she finding amazing/useful/annoying/can’t live without.
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