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Planning your journey or holiday before you go, whether it be by plane, automobile, boat or train, helps you to enjoy yourself and may avoid problems with your diabetes while you are away.

Before you go:

-See your family doctor if you have any concerns about your current
health and ability to travel. Have any recommended vaccinations. Ask your travel agent for advice. Vaccinations are best given well in advance of travel, as they may upset your diabetes for a short time. Ask your GP and Diabetes Team for advice.
-Inform your travel company and travel insurer that you have diabetes. Ask if they recover loss or replacement of insulin.
-Obtain some form of diabetes identity cards(with your first language and the first language of the country that you will be visiting)or jewellery stating that you have diabetes.
-If you are carrying syringes, insulin pens, pumps or other equipment, you are advised to carry a letter from your Dr., particularly if you are travelling by air, just in case.

Holiday Checklist:

-Take twice as much insulin or tablets, equipment and testing supplies with you as you think you will need in case of damage or loss. Take ample glucotabs, etc., with you. Carry all of your tablets or insulin and diabetes equipment in your hand luggage with you.
-If you are travelling with someone, give some of this to your travelling companion in case yours becomes lost.
-If you are travelling by air, never put your insulin into your suitcase. Temperatures in the hold of an aircraft are very low and may cause insulin to freeze. Baggage loss is also a concern.
-Carry a clearly written list of all your current medicine (or take a repeat prescription sheet). In case you need more medication while you are away.

A simple first-aid box should include:

-Suntan lotion
-Simple pain killers
-Anti-diarrhea capsules
-Travel sickness pills
-Bandaids or gauze/medic tape
-Antiseptic solution

If possible, take a good supply of food and drink with you for any delays.
It is best not to ask for a "diabetic meal" from the airline, as these often contain no carbohydrate and you do need some.

If You Are Treated With Insulin:

Find out what types and strengths of insulin are available in the country that you are travelling to in case of emergency. Do not expose your insulin to very high or very low temperatures. It should be kept out of direct sunlight and must be kept cool.

Take a cool bag with you or find some cool place to store your insulin when you arrive.

Don't keep your insulin in a glove compartment or boot of the car.

Remember that insulin may be absorbed faster in warmer climates, and you may therefore be more likely to have a hypo. Regular blood tests are therefore important as you may need to reduce your dose of insulin.

Long Flights And Changing Time-Zones:

Prepare for a long journey well in advance by asking your Endo or Diabetes Specialist Nurse to help work out your insulin dose.

Try to be flexible and be prepared for flight delays. If you are travelling with someone, keep your watch at your time zone. This will help you to work out how far you are from your usual eating time. Then you can switch over to the time of the country that you are visiting once you are adjusted.

Eating And Drinking:

Carry sandwiches, beef or turkey jerky, biscuits, 10-20 small or medium-sized nuts per snack, cereal bars or string cheese to cover any unexpected delays in travel. Remember to take this in your hand luggage and not to put this in the hold of a plane.

Take any sweeteners with you.

Airline meals may not contain sufficient carbohydrate. It is better to ask for an "ordinary" meal rather than asking for a special "diabetic" meal, or carry extra bread, a roll or fruit with you.

Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

Remember that sugar-free drinks may not be available in all countries and it is worth taking some along with you. In hot climates drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to prevent dehydration.

Always check that the water is safe to drink.

Take snacks and drinks for your holiday.

Holiday Foot Care:

-Bring comfortable, well-fitting shoes in case your feet swell in hot weather.
-On the beach, do not walk barefoot, especially on hot sand.
-Watch out for sharp objects on the beach or while you are swimming.
-Check your feet every morning and evening, looking for breaks in the skin.
-If you develop a blister, cover this with a gauze bandaid and keep it clean.

If You Are Ill While On Holiday:

Never stop your insulin or tablets, even if you cannot take solid foods.
Before you travel, discuss managing sickness and diarrhea with your diabetes care team. As a precaution, only drink bottled water, and be careful about the hygiene level of restaurants.
If you have sickness and/or diarrhea and this persists, you should seek urgent medical advice.

Once You Have Arrived:

The challenges are usually different when traveling for pleasure or work. If you’re on vacation, you will most likely have more control of your eating choices. You can choose your own restaurants and meals, and most menus now have lower-carb choices clearly stated for people with Diabetes or on weight-loss diets. If not, plan your meal around your protein source.

For breakfast, instead of choosing pancakes, think of eggs or egg substitutes. Try an omelet with cheese and vegetables, and hold the toast and hash browns. If you can’t eat an egg without toast, choose whole grain over white and one slice not two.

For lunch, salads with grilled chicken, fish and other protein sources are great—just don’t go wild with the dressings and crackers. Buffets offer a lot of good choices, but remember, portion size matters. Stick with the salads, grilled or baked fish, chicken and lean beef choices and non-starchy vegetables. Even though these foods are low carb, don’t go overboard thinking you need to eat more to get your money’s worth.

For dinner, try grilled seafood, chicken or beef and a dinner salad. Have a medium potato or small portion of rice or ask for double vegetables.

What About Business Travel?

Business travel is a different story. Often meals are planned for you. In this case, it is recommended that you ask the co-ordinator beforehand what’s on the menu. If a continental breakfast is ordered, that is usually heavy on the carbs: bagels, muffins, rolls, toast, cereal, milk fruit and juice. If these are your only choices, keep some hardboiled eggs or cheese or leftovers in your room refrigerator and enjoy that for breakfast. Or get up a little earlier and stop at a nearby restaurant for a lower-carb breakfast.

If lunch is a sandwich buffet, there are usually lettuce, tomatoes and onions along with the meats and cheeses and breads. Make your own chef salad if you would prefer.

Dinner usually presents few problems. Just remember the tips from above.

Traveling doesn’t have to be an excuse to lose control of Diabetes or weight-loss management. You can enjoy your travel and stay healthy.
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