Vacation is a time to relax and unwind, but for those with diabetes, the thought of ruffling up the glucose monitoring routine can be nerve-racking. So, to make going on vacation a bit easier, cross these items off the to-do list before departing for a new destination.
1- Before taking a long trip, have a medical exam to ensure your diabetes is in good control. Schedule the exam with enough buffer time prior to the departure date to control glucose levels.
2- Get two papers from your doctor: a letter and a prescription. The letter should outline what you must do for your diabetes, including taking diabetes medications, pills or insulin shots. It's important that it lists any syringes, insulin or devices that you use. Furthermore, the letter should highlight any allergies or medications that you are sensitive to.
The prescription should be filled out for insulin and diabetes pills. Even if you have more than enough pills or insulin to last the entire trip, the prescription may help in case of emergency.
In the U.S., prescription rules vary by state. In foreign countries, the laws may be different, so research the laws where you're headed.
3- If you need more meds and supplies beyond a 30-day limit, ask your pharmacist or insurance company for a "vacation override."
4- Wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace that shows you have diabetes. Also, learn how to say "I have diabetes" and "sugar" in the language of the country you visit.
5- When you fly, request a special meal low in sugar, fat and cholesterol. This typically has to be done at least two days before the flight.
6- Pack medicine in your carry-on. The last thing a diabetic wants is for the bag with his prescriptions or pills to get lost. Keep all of these things in your carry-on or personal bag.
7- Consider buying travel packs to avoid temperature swings for diabetes medications. Don't stash your insulin in the trunk of your car or in a backpack in direct sunlight. There are a variety of travel packs available to keep your insulin cool.
8- Bring along contact information, such as a copy of your health insurance information with phone numbers. It's important to know your policy and group numbers and whether you need preauthorization for hospital admission.
9- Pack snacks. For some people, there comes that time on the trip when their blood sugar levels are too low and there's no snack in sight. Travel prepared and bring along some foods.
10- Protect your feet. Keep a pair of comfortable shoes with you no matter where you go. Some women like to carry a pair of slip-ons in their computer bag in case their feet start to ache. Men can lace up athletic shoes with plenty of cushion for walking and exploring.
11- Take into account crossing time zones. If this applies to you, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator before the trip, who can help plan the timing of your injections around flights.
To learn more about travel and diabetes: