HAVE DIABETES, WILL TRAVEL
Don’t let your illness stop you from travelling over the holiday season. Just keep these five tips in mind when planning your journey for a safe sojourn.
Five strategies to keep your disease in check on the go
CARRY ON TO CARRY ON
You want to ensure that you have everything you need close at hand, including medications, insulin, syringes, test strips, lancets and ketone strips. That means packing them in your carry-on baggage.
With increased airport security, expect your supplies to get a thorough once-over, but don’t fret: You should be able to board a plane with insulin, syringes and insulindelivery systems as long as you can document that you need them. Bring a letter from your doctor and carry your insulin vials in their boxes (once you use the insulin, keep the box). It’s OK to carry lancets as long as they’re capped. You can also carry a glucose meter with a manufacturer’s name printed on it. If you use an insulin pump, don’t disconnect it prior to entering security. But if you’re wearing a continuous glucose sensor, you’ll need to disable it because the radiofrequency it emits can interfere with the plane’s inflight navigation system.
BE SMART, NOT SORRY
At holiday time, security may be heightened, especially at foreign airports. Call ahead to your local airport to find out current policies. Consider working with a travel agent, who can help you suss out policies at foreign airports.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Whether you’re travelling by plane or train, it’s a good idea to confirm that they have special meals on board. When you’re en route, wait for meal service to begin before you take your pre-meal insulin to ensure that you don’t experience low blood sugar if food service is delayed or cancelled.
MEALS ON WHEELS
Travelling by car? Stick to your regular mealtime schedule to keep your blood sugar stable. If that isn’t possible, carry glucose tablets with you and be alert to symptoms of low blood sugar, such as nervousness, sweating and crankiness. If you feel a hypoglycemic episode coming on, pull over and take several glucose tablets. Wait at least 10 to 15 minutes for the feeling to pass before continuing on.
GET IN THE ZONE
Travelling across different time zones can throw your normal insulin and meal schedule completely off kilter, but you can compensate for the disruption if you’re careful. When you’re adding hours to your day by travelling west, you may need to take more insulin. When you’re losing hours by travelling east, you may need less. When it comes to timing your injections and meals, keep your watch set to your home time as you travel to your destination, but switch your watch – and your schedule – to the local time the morning after you arrive. If you don’t feel comfortable making these adjustments on your own, ask your healthcare provider to help you create a schedule.