A Travel Checklist for Those with Diabetes

Traveling with diabetes requires some extra planning, but diabetes shouldn’t keep you from enjoying some time away.

Before you plan your travels, however, it's important that you get your diabetes in good control. The last thing you need is to have an emergency in another state or country.

And before you go on your trip, make an appointment to see your health care provider to discuss your diabetes control and any questions you have about taking a trip. Once you are ready to go, make and use a checklist so you don’t forget supplies you might need. Here's a list to get you started.

The Checklist

  • Glucose meter
  • Test strips
  • Lancets, capped
  • All medications
  • Paper prescriptions for medications and testing supplies (in case your stay is extended or your supplies are lost)
  • Insulin syringes and pen needles
  • Extra batteries for glucose meter and/or insulin pump
  • Glucagon
  • Treatment for hypoglycemia (glucose tabs or gel)
  • Snacks
  • Medical ID (bracelet or necklace)
  • Letter from doctor (stating that you have diabetes and listing your supplies and medications)

If you're planning on traveling by plane, make sure that all of your supplies and medications are in their original boxes, with the pharmacy labels attached. This includes test strips, lancets, insulin syringes, glucagon, and all medications.

Note: Airline rules about liquids do not apply to medications.

More Travel Tips

That all-important carry-on bag. If traveling by plane, you must pack all your diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag. This way, they will not be lost and you will have them if there is a delay.

Protect supplies from temperature changes. Remember that diabetes medications and test strips for your glucose meter are sensitive to temperature changes, so always keep them in the cabin of the aircraft so that they will remain effective. Never pack these items in a suitcase that's going to be loaded into the plane's (very cold/hot) baggage compartment.

Pack extras. When packing for your trip, always make sure to pack extra supplies. It's wise to pack at least a week’s worth of extras or--if you are traveling to a place where supplies are going to be difficult to obtain--maybe even more.

Arrive at the airport early to ensure that you have enough time to get through security if any problems should crop up. Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors are alright to go through a standard metal detector, but these pieces of equipment should never be carried through a full-body scanner, which would expose them to damaging x-rays. Such equipment does not need to be removed from your body.

During vacations, expect some schedule changes and interrupted plans. While on vacation, you'll usually meet with some surprises, often involving eating times, exercise routines, or opportunities for sleep. All of these disruptions will affect your glucose, so check your glucose more often than usual when you're traveling.

If you have questions, talk with your health care provider and diabetes educator and make a plan for your travels.

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