What to Prepare Before Travelling If You’re Diabetic
Type 1 Diabetes is a complex medical condition but it doesn’t have to stop you from travelling — especially if you start preparing in advance.
In fact, the best thing you can do is plan ahead.
But it can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we’ve put together this guide to getting ready for travel when you live with type 1 diabetes.
Here’s a guide to everything you need to prepare.
Ask your doctor to write a letter
Not only is this useful to have when you’re going through airport security and customs, but you can also carry the letter with you when you’re exploring your destination, just in case there’s an emergency.
According to Insurancewith’s diabetes travel guide, a letter from your doctor should include:
- A list of the medication you’re prescribed with
- A list of the equipment you need
- Information about the supplies you need to carry in your hand luggage (if you’re travelling by plane)
- Contact details for your doctor and health team
The Possess the World, Planning Your Trip blog post has more information on your pre-travel health check up.
Work out how you need to adjust
Travelling through different time zones and adjusting to the time difference can mess up your schedule.
Your health team can help you with this, so meet with them at least a month before your holiday to discuss how you can adapt and keep your routine close to what you’re used to. Consistency is key.
If you’re taking a long-haul flight, it’s also worth getting in touch with the airline to ask about mealtimes — that way you can plan your insulin for the plane in advance.
Tell your insurers you have diabetes
This is very important.
If you don’t declare your diabetes (or any medical condition, for that matter) and something happens, it can invalidate the policy, meaning you’ll have to pay for expensive medical treatment.
Remember: Your policy needs to cover
- the cost of emergency repatriation (i.e. you need to be able to get home in an emergency) and
- the cost of replacing insulin and equipment.
Pack the essentials
Carry everything you’ll need for the journey with you at all times.
Everything you need for travel when you’re diabetic:
- Your medication, stored in its original packaging
- A coolbag to ensure your insulin isn’t damaged by extreme temperatures
- Extra carbohydrates (just make sure there aren’t restrictions on the food that can be brought into the country you’re visiting)
- Sugary foods/drinks for treating a hypoglycaemic episode
Possess the World have more great tips for managing your medication whilst travelling, here.
Bring extra supplies
Figure out how much medication you’ll need, then take double that amount, and don’t forget to pack spare equipment.
You never know when damage will occur, travel will be delayed, or luggage will be lost.
Worried about the mid-flight meal? Bring your own snacks, or buy food at the airport. Sandwiches or salads with lean meat, carrots and hummus, and yogurt topped with fruit, nuts and seeds are all suitable. You can check out Diabetes UK for more ideas.
Add some sugary foods if you need to keep your blood glucose levels up.
Learn how to say important phrases
The last thing you’ll want to do in an emergency is deal with a language barrier, so look up the translation for phrases like ‘I have diabetes’, ‘I am diabetic’, and ‘Please take me to the hospital’.
You can keep them written down, in easy reach or use your smart phone.
Downloading the appropriate language/s to the Google Translate App on your phone is a great idea. Before you leave on your trip add a few common phrases to each language you may need and store in the app.
Find out where the nearest hospital/clinic is
Lastly, remember to look up the location of the nearest hospital before you go. It’ll save a lot of time if you need to see a doctor — and it’ll give you peace of mind.
If you are unsure ask at your accomodation when you arrive, hotels and AirBnb hosts should provide emergency information for guests.
Our Accessing Healthcare Overseas-Know Your Rights blog post, gives more information about using healthcare during your travels.
Where to find more information
Diabetes Australia has an comprehensive guide for travelling with Type 1 Diabetes.
As always, Possess the World recommend that you discuss all your health needs with YOUR health team, this is a general guide only. Why not share this guide with your Diabetes team and get their input too?
This content was made possible through partnership with IW, edited by Possess the World.
Possess the World have not used the insurance product and recommend that you discuss all insurance requirements with your chosen provider.
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