8 Tips for Flying with Diabetes

Smart travel strategies for people with diabetes.

from 759 Secrets for Beating Diabetes

In the early days of air travel, travelers looked at flying as a great adventure. Nowadays we often see it as a chore to endure before the real trip can begin. Here’s how to ensure that your next flight will be safe and pleasant so you’ll be all set and ready to go when the fun starts.

1. Bring your own meal or snack. These days, few airlines offer free meals; you’re probably out of luck if you’re flying economy class or you’re on a relatively short flight. The meals and snacks that airlines do offer are not only expensive and unsatisfying, but unhealthy to boot. So tuck a turkey sandwich, pasta salad, an apple, or whole-wheat crackers and low-fat cheese into your carry-on bag along with some napkins and a plastic fork if you need one.

Smart travel strategies for people with diabetes. Buy some bottled water once you've cleared security to avoid dehydration, which can possibly raise your blood sugar.

2. Book an aisle seat.
You might be tempted to pity the person on the end of the row who has to get up whenever someone else wants to leave their seat. But that’s the person who will arrive at his or her destination less cramped and more energized than anyone else, so seek out that seat, and use every opportunity to get up out of it. Sitting in a plane seat for hours on end raises the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the legs. Many factors often associated with diabetes—being overweight, being 60 or older, having poor blood circulation, and having a history of heart disease—are also linked to DVT, which can be life-threatening if the clot travels through the bloodstream and blocks blood flow to the lungs.

3. Set a digital reminder to get up. Time can easily get away from you while you’re flying if you’re sleeping or watching an in-flight movie. The next time you fly, wear a digital watch with an alarm, and set it to go off 60 or 90 minutes after takeoff. When the alarm goes off, stroll to the restroom and back, then reset your alarm to go off in another 60 or 90 minutes. Repeat this exercise throughout the flight.

4. Use airport time to burn calories. Catching a plane involves a whole lot of hurry up and wait. While you’re waiting for your plane to board, use that spare half-hour to tool around the terminal rather than grabbing an overpriced candy bar from the newsstand. If you combine the calories you’ll burn moving your feet and the calories you save not chomping the chocolate, you’ll end up a grand total of 420 calories behind where you would have been.