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Safe travel for those with diabetes

You have diabetes. Does that mean you should pass up an important business trip or forget about that dream vacation to Europe? If your diabetes is under control, there’s no need to put your life on hold. Just plan ahead to ensure that you continue to feel your best while you’re on the road.

Before your trip, discuss your travel plans with your doctor or diabetes educator. You’ll want to focus on preparing for the unexpected, so you’ll be ready to cope with varied eating times, delays in blood testing, changing insulin doses—even what to do if you run out of medication or become ill.

Here are some suggestions for safe travel with diabetes:

  • Wear a universally recognized diabetes identification tag. This is especially important if you are traveling alone or will be in a foreign country. A tag can “speak” for you should you become ill or need help.
  • Always carry twice the amount of medication you’ll need for the entire trip. Keep your diabetes supplies with you at all times. Your insulin won’t do you any good if it’s packed in the cargo compartment of your plane that’s delayed on the runway for hours.
  • If you need to inject insulin when flying, find out how to adjust the dose to allow for lower air pressure in the plane’s cabin. When changing time zones, be aware that it may be harder to keep track of when it’s time to take your medication. If you use an insulin pump, reset the pump’s clock for the new time zone.
  • Ask your doctor for extra prescriptions that can be filled if you lose your medications. Take your doctor’s phone and fax number with you, along with a letter stating that you have diabetes and use syringes to take insulin.
  • Find out where you can obtain medical care at different destinations along your travel route. If you are traveling with a companion, be sure that person knows how to help you in an emergency.
  • Always carry a form of sugar and snacks with you. Try to maintain a regular mealtime schedule. Your travel agent can help you map out rest stops that coincide with your route. If you plan to be eating new and exotic foods, discuss their possible side effects with your physician.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly. When traveling, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Remember that regulating your blood sugar level is the single most important thing you can do to manage your diabetes.
  • Take care of your feet. Break in new walking shoes before your trip. Pack a pair of sandals or water shoes to avoid injuring your feet at the beach or in the water.