Holiday Travel for Diabetics

by Mark Benson on December 7, 2011

Travel affects diabetes management

The time of travel to visit family and friends is here. With the travel, many daily routines are altered to adapt to the new surroundings and the celebrations. These changes, aside from the food, make diabetes management a little trickier.

According to Ella Brock, RN, CDE and the Diabetes Education Specialist at ETMC Henderson said, “We are creatures of habit. The slightest change in our routine can throw us off, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. It’s important that when they travel they remember to check their blood glucose levels on a regular basis, and perhaps, even more frequently, because travel and changes in schedule can affect those levels.”

She and her colleague Sallie Warren, MS, RD, LD, a dietitian, provide diabetes self-management education classes at the Diabetes Education Outreach Center at ETMC Henderson. The following are the tips to do when traveling while medicating for diabetes:

On Medication. When insulin is used, carry it in an insulated bag with refrigerated gel packs to keep it below room temperature. Also, include a glucagon emergency kit. It is best to keep these essential aids away from heat, sunlight and prevent from freezing.

On Air Travel. When using an insulin pump, avoid going through a metal detector. It would be best to indicate to the security officer that you are wearing a pump and have it visually inspected. It would also be good to call the airline ahead to inquire about diabetic specific meals during the travel. When there is no meal on the plane, pack a healthy snack.

On Carry Ons. When carrying syringes and other insulin delivery mechanisms, mark them in their original pharmacy labeled packaging. Also, keep medical information in one packet such as health card, emergency phone numbers, diabetologist’s number and other important information. Pack twice as much supplies in case delays occur.

On Arrival. Be sure to bring along glucose tabs or other snacks in case blood sugar levels drop off suddenly. It would also help to be aware of time zones to be able to be on schedule with your medication. Also, moving about every hour or so would help blood circulation and prevent blood clots.

These basic steps can help a diabetic be prepared during the travel. Do remember that everything should be in moderation, including moderation, as a diabetic.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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