Traveling With Diabetes

Follow this advice before you hit the road:

Keep glucose goods close at hand. If you are traveling by plane, pack your medications, insulin, syringes, test strips, lancets, ketone strips, and other supplies so there’s no chance of losing them. Consider bringing extra supplies in your checked luggage. Make sure all medications bear the original pharmacy prescription labels. If you don’t already have one, get a medical ID bracelet or necklace that alerts people that you have diabetes and provides a number to call in an emergency.

Pack a snack. Wherever you go, take a totable snack like an apple, an energy bar, a banana, raisins, or cheese and crackers in case your blood sugar starts to dip when you don’t have immediate access to your food. If you sample your snacks en route, replenish your supplies as soon as you can.

Mind your meals. If you’re flying or taking an extended trip by rail, call the carrier a few days before you depart and ask what special meals they have available for people with diabetes or heart disease (there may be more than one option to choose from). When you’re en route, wait for meal service to actually begin before you take your pre-meal insulin to make sure you don’t experience low blood sugar in the event that service is unexpectedly slowed or canceled. When traveling by car, try to stick to your regular mealtime schedule to keep your blood sugar stable. If that’s not possible, carry snacks along 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 immediately and take a sugar pill or have something to eat. Wait at least 10 to 15 minutes for the feeling to pass before continuing on.

Get in the zone. Traveling across different time zones can throw your schedule completely off, but you can compensate for the disruption if you’re careful. When adding hours to your day by traveling west, you may need to take more insulin. When losing hours traveling east, you may need less. Check with your doctor for specific recommendations. As for timing your injections and meals, keep your watch set to your home time as you travel to your destination, then switch your watch — and your schedule — to the local time the morning after you arrive.

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