Vacationing WithType 1 Diabetes

grandparents and grandchildren posing by swimming area(BlackDoctor.org) — Are you thinking about taking a vacation, but feel limited on destinations because you have type 1 diabetes? Having type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun, memorable, well-deserved vacation. With a little planning and preparation, you can go just about anywhere in the world you want.

When planning a vacation, consider where you will be going and how long you’ll be there. It’s best to be over-prepared when traveling with type 1 diabetes, so plan ahead for all of the possibilities, such as:

• You may get stuck at a layover airport without your luggage.
• Your luggage may be lost or stolen by the time you reach your destination.
• You may have a medical emergency en route or after you get to your destination.

Investigate your destination in advance, especially if you’re traveling outside the United States. Make sure you know who to call if you have a medical emergency, and where to go if you need additional supplies. Other helpful pre-travel tips include:

• See your doctor. Before you leave, make sure your doctor has confirmed that your diabetes is under good control. This includes getting your cholesterol and blood pressure levels checked as well.

• Bring a doctor’s note. Travel with a letter from your doctor, especially if you will be on an airplane. Your doctor’s letter should list all of the insulin, syringes, oral medications and any devices you need to manage your diabetes.

 Keep extra prescriptions for insulin, syringes and all other medications on hand. Bring extra prescriptions with you when you travel. You shouldn’t need to use these prescriptions, but it’s good to have them just in case of an emergency.

• Learn the language. If you are going to a country where you don’t know the language, learn how to say, “I am diabetic” and “May I have some juice or sugar, please?”

Pack Smart

As you begin packing for your trip, be sure to bring extra insulin. You should pack at least twice the amount of insulin, syringes and other medications that you would usually need. Bring an insulated bag and cooling packs to keep your insulin stored properly.

Be sure to pack your glucagon in case your sugar dips too low. You may also want to bring additional batteries for your glucometer, as well as plenty of lancets, test strips and any other supplies you need for monitoring your sugar.

If you are traveling by plane, carry all of your diabetes medication and equipment in your carry-on bag, just in case the airline loses your checked luggage. Other tips for travel day:

• Wear an ID bracelet. At all times, you should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes so emergency and medical personnel can be alerted to your condition if you should ever be unable to speak for yourself.

• Pack needed food. People with type 1 diabetes should bring food with them so they can eat whenever they need to. Don’t skip meals. Remember, you probably won’t get much food on airplanes, so pack nutritious snacks and glucose tablets or gels in case you have low blood sugar. Since current federal restrictions may prevent you from bringing your own drinks in your carry-on luggage, plan to buy fruit juice right after crossing the security checkpoints at the airport.

• Consider time zone changes. Time zone changes can alter your regular insulin schedule. If you gain a few hours, you might need more insulin, versus if you lose a few hours, you might need less. Talk with your doctor before your trip about changes you may have to make in your insulin dosing while you’re away. Additionally, monitor your sugar closely while traveling to make sure it doesn’t spiral out of control.

With a little advance preparation, diabetes doesn’t have to interfere with your travel plans. Bon voyage!

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