Travelling with Type 1 Diabetes

Depending on the type of person you are, planning your vacations can be a fun thing to do or a dreadful thing to do. I personally love to plan vacations! Well, let me say that I love to plan really anything!! I love looking for deals for flights, cars, hotels, etc. It is just something that I like to take control of and I always love how it turns out. The twist in this whole adventure for me personally is my diabetes.
Think about your vacation and the things you pack depending on the amount of days, your destination, and the adventures you may go on during your vacation. Now think about having a life altering disease you need to make sure you are prepared to deal with during your vacation. Diabetes can be that twist in your vacation that you want to be prepared for. So I wanted to share the things I consider when planning a trip or even a last-minute trip.

Of course you have your usual clothes, shoes and bathroom products to bring. I add the following when traveling:

  • Insulin pump supplies: I add 2 infusion sets, 2 reservoirs for insulin, alcohol pads, for each day I will be traveling.
  • Insulin: I bring an entire extra bottle of insulin with me. I use Humalog insulin only for my insulin pump
  • Syringes: I bring an entire bag (10 count) of syringes in case my insulin pump doesn’t want to work, or something happens
  • Glucose tablets or something to help when my blood sugar drops too low
  • Blood Glucose Monitor , extra lancets, alcohol pads, extra test strips (I check up to 10 times a day, so a bottle of 50 test strips will be a 5 day supply)
  • If driving to destination I will pack a box of capri-sun juices, granola bars and bananas. If flying to destination, I make it a point to stop somewhere to get the same, these are for me to have on me at all times during vacation (along with the glucose tablets).
  • Insurance card, prescription information (I usually just have the label from the pharmacy), doctors phone numbers
  • If you have a diabetic bracelet or necklace, it is a good idea to wear. I don’t have one myself, which is something I should probably take my own advice on and get.

During all my years as a diabetic, I have a few words of advice or tricks that I will share. And I ran into a few problems while away that I want to share so you can learn from my mishaps or accidents.

  • If flying, sit in a window seat so if you need to check your blood sugar during the flight, you can do it discreetly without anyone freaking out a bit!
  • If driving a long distance, make sure the passenger is fine with helping you check your blood sugar while you are driving (Of course driving and checking glucose levels is not recommended, but I do it all the time!! )
  • Always keep juice, glucose tablets or your favorite go to item on your person no matter what
  • If walking a lot, bring the fanny pack back, ha ha. I had to add this because we go to Disney nearly every month with our annual passes and I love using my fanny pack to keep all my goodies in there.

I had taken a cruise about 9 years ago and my insulin pump motor decided to stop working and was not delivering my insulin. I was able to make a phone call from the ship to the toll-free number to Minimed Medtronic and they helped me troubleshoot and test a few things and was determined it was the motor that was defective. They send a replacement to my address via overnight, of course I was on a ship for another 3 days. Thankfully I had those syringes packed and I was able to monitor my blood sugar level and take injections as needed.

Occasionally I have an issue where my infusion set for my insulin pump doesn’t sit under my skin correctly and will not give me the insulin. It is very frustrating. This usually happens when I don’t angle the needle correctly or my skin is too tough in the spot I choose, which is why you need to rotate every 3 days. Usually the latter happens more often. So the infusion sets I bring as extras can get used up pretty quickly.

Another issue I had, actually this past week, during my trip from Florida to New York, during my flight the pressure was causing an issue with my pump site and seemed to stop delivering insulin and at the stop over for the next fight I changed my site in the bathroom. So what I did on the other flights was disconnect during take off and landing to alleviate any issues and that seemed to work. This is actually the second trip this has happened with and I will be calling Minimed to see what they say.

Thank you for reading and please comment on this post if you have any travelling with diabetes stories to share. Would love to hear them!


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