Diabetes and Travel

If you have diabetes and are planning that trip of a lifetime then don’t let your condition hold you back. Even though there are no real limitations, it is important that you plan carefully and ensure that everything is going to be kept under control, and by doing this there is no need to worry about having to avoid specific activities.

Should you have any real concerns about short or long haul travelling when you have diabetes then this article should help you understand what to expect and how to deal with every step involved in managing the condition.

Once you have read all of the information here, if there is anything that you might still be unsure about then you will be able to get more details from your doctor or diabetes healthcare team. It is best to do this when planning a trip so it reduces the likelihood of something (however small) going wrong.

Essential Diabetes equipment when travelling

When travelling, there is a list of items that you are almost certainly going to need at some point and they could include the following:

  • Adequate storage for insulin – many consider a cool bag or something similar to be an ideal option
  • All items to continue your regular blood sugar checks
  • Have plenty of items that are rich in carbohydrates. Sandwiches and fruit are both great choices
  • Make sure you pack all relevant medication and have enough to last for the duration of any trip

Top tip: When travelling by plane, you may think that carrying needles is going to cause problems but so long as you can prove the need for them (confirmation in writing from GP with a contact number and address will usually suffice) then there is no cause for concern.

What else might I need to know before travelling?

Aside from some of the essential equipment listed above, you may be wondering what else is going to be needed for a trip. There are a few other recommendations which are listed below.

  • Keep alcohol intake to a minimum
  • Always make sure that you take out some form of travel insurance so that you are covered against certain eventualities, should anything untoward occur
  • It doesn’t matter how long or short a flight might be, it is recommended that you should consult your doctor beforehand so that any relevant advice can be given

If you think there is anything else that you may need but are not entirely certain of what could be required then your doctor should be able to provide information on other essential items.

Top tip: You may be aware that there are plenty of airlines which provide special meals, especially for diabetics. There have been many people who suggest that they are not ideal for people with the condition, especially those with type 1 diabetes as it has been indicated that some might not provide enough carbohydrates.

The big day has arrived

The time has come, the day of your holiday has arrived and you are definitely feeling excited. That’s good. Never let something like diabetes ruin your fun.

There are a few health related problems that you should take into consideration so that you don’t run the risk of falling ill. 

  • Drink plenty of water and always be sure to compensate the amount consumed, depending on certain weather conditions – like humidity an temperature
  • A major problem for diabetics is travel sickness. Regular vomiting can lead to the blood sugar level being uncontrollable
  • Continue checking your blood sugar levels as often as it may be required so that you know when to take insulin
  • Even though you are on holiday, it is not ideal to stop taking insulin. Some experts suggest that this is a time where you might want to think about increasing the intake. If so, always speak to your doctor beforehand

Top tip: If you are planning on travelling to a faraway country then you are going to have to seek medical advice as a different time zone is going to have an effect on when you should be taking insulin.

Looking after your feet

As the feet are often one of the main body parts at risk for diabetes sufferers, it is necessary for you to look after your feet so that any problems can be avoided from the onset. By following the tips listed below, they should give you an idea of what to expect as well as establishing what to do.

  • Always have a compact first aid kit handy so that you can deal with any minor injuries, like cuts or grazes
  • Make sure when you are out in the sun, you use plenty of lotion to safeguard your body against sunburn
  • During a flight, make sure that you get up and walk regularly
  • If they are required and useful then you might want to think about wearing specialised flight socks
  • On a plane, feet are prone to swelling (something that can be caused by flying at high altitudes) and therefore you will want to wear shoes that have ample breathing space so that the feet do not swell and become constricted

Enjoy yourself!

Even though a holiday is an enjoyable time for the entire family, it is vital to manage your diabetes effectively so that no further problems occur, both in the short and long term.

All the information listed here might seem like a lot to remember but these are only a few essential “need to know” facts that will help manage the condition safely whilst leaving you time to sit back and relax.

Remember to have fun and as long as you have done all the relevant planning then there is no reason to expect any problems throughout the duration of your trip. Never hesitate to ask questions if there is anything you might be unsure about as this will help you mange the problem quickly and with little hassle. 

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