Travelling with diabetes
Your GP or diabetes healthcare provider’s letter should clearly state all the medications that you are taking, as well as any essential equipment, devices, or sharps that you need. Your airline may request this information and you may also need to show it as you pass through airport security. Don’t forget there are limits on how much liquid you can take in hand luggage, although this is currently under review.
It is advisable to let the security officer know that you are wearing diabetes technology and carrying medication before you place your bags through a scanner, or walk through a scanner yourself.
Whilst travelling, you should maintain healthy eating and drinking habits but be aware that the types of foods you usually eat may not be readily available. Ensuring that you have plenty of snacks to top up with is essential whilst in transit. Check travel guides and online resources for dietary information at your destination.
If you are likely to be more active whilst on holiday, monitor your blood glucose levels and adjust diet/insulin in response to this.
Living with diabetes doesn’t mean that you’re more prone to travel-related illness, but the consequences can be more serious if it impacts on blood glucose control. For instance, vomiting can lead to low blood glucose levels and fever can lead to high blood glucose levels. Practice good food and water hygiene and follow sick day rules if necessary.
If travelling alone, you may wish to tell someone at your destination (ie. your hotel) that you have diabetes, in case you become unwell. Remember to wear or carry your diabetes identification.
Remember your suncream, even on more difficult and less obvious parts of the body, like backs of hands, ankles, necks etc., and avoid over exposure of sun. Especially, take care of your feet if you have neuropathy. Sunbathing can impact insulin absorption, which may increase the risk of hypos and hypers. You may need to monitor blood glucose levels more frequently and be ready to adjust your diet and/or insulin dosage.
In cold weather, insulin absorption can be slower at first and then can increase as you get warmer through the day. This can cause hypos, as can being too cold and shivering when your body will be using more energy to stay warm. It might be helpful to wear layers of clothing, so that you can put on and take off as necessary. You may need to monitor blood glucose levels more frequently and be ready to adjust your diet and/or insulin dosage. If you are going somewhere extremely cold, then don’t forget to check the manufacturers advice for blood glucose monitors and devices.
Most importantly, when you’re travelling and/or on holiday, you want to be able to enjoy yourself. By remembering your usual routines and preparing with as much information as possible ahead of your departure time, you should have a safe and exciting time away from home.
We hope you have a safe and enjoyable time away on holiday.
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