Traveling With Diabetes
This holiday season is especially exciting as trips to see family and friends are again possible. Health authorities are still encouraging people to get vaccinated, mask up, and practice social distancing to help prevent a post-holiday wave in COVID-19 cases, but with precautions, travel and gatherings can happen.
For those traveling with diabetes, anticipating the festivities ahead can also spell anxiety as they may wonder exactly how to make travel plans. Let us reassure you! With some strategic packing of diabetes supplies, and thinking through how to maintain blood glucose testing schedules, those with diabetes can safely travel anywhere they’d like to go.
Before You Travel
It’s no secret that traveling, especially plane travel, can be complicated. Security lines, delays, and strict luggage guidelines are issues all travelers face. For those traveling with diabetes, the issues can seem even more daunting, but travel by plane is possible by just implementing some simple solutions.
Before your departure date, visit your doctor for a checkup and ask for a note that explains what type of diabetes you have and the medication that you require. This can help ease any problems you may have going through security. It’s also a good idea to invest in a medical ID bracelet that has information on your condition as well as an emergency contact phone number. Genteel has partnered with MyID to help get you the bracelet you need.
There is also an optional TSA Disability Notification Card that can be printed and carried. The card states what your medical condition is and that you understand you can request alternate security screening methods. It’s good added protection if you find yourself in a long line with security personnel who may not be familiar with the rules.
Identify pharmacies and clinics in the area where you’ll be traveling so you’ll be prepared for any emergencies on the ground and also know where to restock any missing diabetes supplies or medications.
Packing Diabetes Supplies
When you’re ready to start packing, separate anything you need to manage your diabetes in carry-on luggage. You never know how long you’ll be separated from checked luggage so better to keep the essentials with you. Genteel offers a handy travel and organizer pouch for blood glucose testing that can be tucked right into a larger bag. The larger bag should also contain:
- Glucose tablets or powder
- Snacks such as fruit, raw vegetables, and nuts
- Medication in the original pharmacy bottles
- Your glucose meter
- Your insulin pump if you use one
- Disposable wipes for cleaning hands before testing
- Your Genteel lancing device
Getting Through Security With Insulin
Packing insulin for a plane ride may seem like the biggest challenge. How do you keep it cold and how do you get around those TSA liquid restrictions? First, put your mind at ease.TSA allows those traveling with diabetes to carry their supplies, including equipment and liquids, through checkpoints after they have either been screened by x-ray or hand-inspected. There is not a size limitation and pretty much any supplies are fine to carry including new and used lancets, syringes, test strips, and even water and juice.
Some other things to consider:
- Carry diabetes supplies in a separate bag from the rest of your carry-on luggage, including your other non-medical liquids.
- Make sure your diabetes medications have the prescription labels affixed to them to avoid unnecessary questioning of what you are carrying
- The TSA does remind those traveling with diabetes that insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin that is clearly identified as insulin.
- Keep insulin cool with gel packs; TSA allows gel packs as part of your medical supplies
- If you use a continuous glucose monitor let security know you have an implanted medical device before you go through the x-ray. If you have an insulin pump consider asking for a hand inspection so you won’t need to disconnect. There’s also some thought that the x-ray machines could damage the equipment so it’s better to play it safe.
- Air travel can bring delays. If you’re stuck in the airport, remember to eat! It’s easy to get caught up in the activity around you, but maintaining nutrition is critical.
Of course, for those with diabetes, traveling by car is much simpler. It still makes the most sense to pack all of your diabetes supplies in one convenient bag and have it easily accessible, but you can also carry a cooler full of healthy snacks, juices, and insulin that needs to be kept cool. Just like plane travel, remember to take breaks from sitting. Pull over at rest stops, or pop into that interesting little town you see along the way. Keep up your regular blood glucose testing too. Road trips make it tempting to dive into some greasy, salty fast food. If you do choose to eat out, enjoy the burger but maybe skip the bun, opt for a salad, or find an all-day breakfast place and dig into some eggs or an omelet. There are plenty of options that taste great, but won’t later make you regret your food decision.
Remember To Test Your Blood Sugar
Once you arrive at your destination, or even along the way, it’s best to stick to your normal testing routine as closely as possible—whether you’re driving to the next town, or traveling through several time zones. But this doesn’t mean you have to be up during odd hours of the night to test your blood sugar. Rather, on the first full day of travel, insulin dosing can begin at the local time, not your home. But talk to your doctor first to make sure this is the best practice for you. We also recommend setting an alarm on your phone for when to test and when to take insulin or other medications. When you’re traveling, it’s easy to get lost in the festivities and fun and forget.
Early in the trip, check blood glucose before and after a meal to determine how eating changes your levels. Often when you’re traveling, you eat foods that may stray a bit from a healthy diet or you may be eating at odd times. Regular glucose monitoring can help you adjust insulin levels to meet changing demands. You should also consider checking your blood sugar more frequently, especially if your activity level will change. Either a long day of skiing or an afternoon lounging in front of a fireplace can alter your blood glucose levels.
As with anything related to what’s best for managing your diabetes, before you travel talk to your doctor so the two of you can decide the best treatment plan to keep you healthy as you head home for the holidays. Our customers will be traveling with their Genteel Lancing Devices because they are not only less painful than regular lancing and quite portable, but they are the perfect backup to monitor blood sugar if your continuous glucose monitor becomes disabled. Genteel is the ideal solution to carry anywhere you go. Read on:
“Using MyGenteel has made me believe that diabetes truly CAN be painless again! I take it everywhere with me, school, work, events—it’s always on me. I love that it’s not only the perfect size to throw in your bag, but it’s also made to simplify a process those living with diabetes have learned can be so mundane. And it’s the only FDA cleared device—the magic is in the pudding! Thankful for MyGenteel this month and every month for supporting the DOC and those living with diabetes and their loved ones. ❤️”