Tips for travelling with diabetes
As many people with diabetes will testify having the condition does not have to limit your ability to travel, or hamper your enjoyment of a holiday. Approximately 2.8 million people in the UK are diabetic and many of these individuals enjoy plenty of holidays by simply following a few tips to help their trip go smoothly.
1. Take plenty of medication
If you have any sort of pre-existing medical condition it is essential to pay a visit to your doctor before jetting off abroad. People with diabetes need to tell their doctor important details about their trip like where they are going, how long they will be away for and how long their flights are. The medical professional can then advise them on how much medication they will need for their trip and where to pack it all.
A good rule of thumb for a short trip is to take twice the amount of medication that you should need. People with diabetes are heavily dependent on their medication for their wellness, and taking surplus will ensure you're not caught short should there be a flight delay or some other sort of emergency. If you need extra medication, just explain the situation to your doctor who will prescribe you extra for your trip.
It is important to pack your long acting insulin, delivery device, spare pen and needles and insulin wallet. In terms of other medical items, an emergency kit containing an icepack, antiseptic cream, paracetamol, anti-diarrhoea medication and antiseptic cream can be especially useful in an emergency.
2. Pack carefully
Where possible, it is essential to carry insulin in hand luggage as the hold can get so cold that the medication freezes, which could impact on its effectiveness. If it is essential that the insulin is placed in the hold then make sure it's as well insulated as possible. Put it in an airtight container that is in the middle of the case. When you visit your doctor, ask for a medical note allowing you to take your syringes on board. Another option is for you to ask if the air crew will look after the medication on board.
However, for a worry-free trip, it is important to pack more than just your insulin before a vacation. It is recommended that those with the condition take medical alert identification, a glucose metre, spare batteries and a test/disposal kit along with a supply of test strips that will last the whole trip. It is also a good idea to have stored an emergency number in your phone, a doctor's contact details, a copy of your diabetes prescriptions and a doctor's note. As you would at home, make sure you have some snacks on you in case your blood sugar should dip.
3. Keep insulin cool
While it is important to keep insulin in hand luggage to ensure it doesn't freeze, it is also vital to make sure it is kept cool throughout the journey. If it is going to take you a while to reach your destination there are a number of options for keeping the insulin at a low temperature, from specialised wallets, bags, fridges and other travel-friendly accessories.
As soon as you arrive at your destination check the insulin to ensure it hasn't been damaged during the journey. If there are any crystals present in the solution the optimal course of action is to discard the insulin and find local supplies.
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