As with most things involved in managing type 2 diabetes, the key is to be prepared. Whether you’re headed out for a two-week vacation or a two-day business trip, don’t let diabetes slow you down.
Here are four helpful tips to consider before hopping on that plane or in that car.
Plan Your Schedule
Don’t wing it when you’re traveling with type 2 diabetes. Plan all of the essentials before you start your adventure—from transportation and lodging to activities and even where you’ll be getting more cash, especially if you’re abroad. Stress and anxiety spike blood sugars. To help avoid this, write out an itinerary. Include directions to hotels and destinations, key phrases if you’ll need to communicate in a foreign language, and each day’s activities. Print it out for each member of your travel party.
To make the itinerary more diabetes-specific:
• Include restaurants you find ahead of time that serve healthy food
• Write out when to check your blood sugar (accounting for any time zone changes)
• Document when to inject if you’re on insulin or another injectable
Packing can make or break your travel experience. To pack smart, put all of your diabetes care equipment and medications in a carry-on bag, whether or not you’re flying. This way, your supplies will be easily accessible at all times, and you won’t run the risk of losing your supplies in misplaced checked luggage. Do this before you pack anything else so you won’t be rushed.
Get Extra Supplies
Bring along extra supplies and medications just in case—some diabetes experts even recommend packing at least twice the supplies you’ll need. Never underestimate the need for backup supplies.
Some diabetes supplies, like test strips and meters, are available over the counter. These products save you the hassle of having to make a doctor’s appointment when one really isn’t needed.
FreeStyle Precision Neo test strips are a good example of test strips that you can buy over the counter, no prescription necessary. They’re available at major retailers, local pharmacies, and even online. Plus, the price is reasonable: 50 test strips for under $25. These are perfect for traveling, as each strip is individually wrapped and protected from air and moisture.
FreeStyle’s Precision Neo meter is also available at the same locations, and its thin, lightweight frame works for discreet testing on the go.
If you’re flying, don’t be shy about bringing your supplies on the plane with you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows insulin, syringes, lancets, pens, pumps, etc. on the plane, and its personnel are familiar with seeing diabetes supplies at security checkpoints. If you’re nervous about passing security, keep everything in its original packaging with the prescription label.
Eat With Care
Many people use time spent away from home as an excuse to indulge, but as a person living with type 2 diabetes, you can’t afford this luxury. Set a goal to eat high-nutrient, unprocessed foods, but be realistic, too—give yourself room for a small treat once every day.
Pack healthy snacks with you, especially ones that don’t need refrigeration like unsalted nuts, fruits (like bananas and oranges), carrots, and granola bars, and make sure packaged goods contain five grams of fat or less per serving. In case of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), keep glucose tablets, gels, or liquids in your carry-on bag.
If you’re flying over a meal time, request a special meal with the airline that’s low in carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, and refined sugar. You can do this once you book the flight or up to just a few days before you leave.
Traveling with diabetes can seem daunting, but with some extra planning and forethought, you can have an amazing, stress-free trip. Bon voyage!