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Tips for Traveling with Diabetes Medicines
People with diabetes, going on vacations or traveling for business purpose requires extra planning for diabetes medications. Changes in meal patterns, activity levels, and time zones can affect your blood sugar levels.
It’s nearly summer, time for a trip to the beach, the mountains, or beyond. Wherever you’re vacationing, some advance planning will help ensure you have a healthy trip. Before you travel, here is what to do:
Before you hit the road, gets a letter from your doctor explaining how you take care of your diabetes. If you use insulin or any other medications or lancing devices, it should list them. In case of emergency, you should also have a prescription for insulin or oral medication.
Are you traveling outside the U.S.? Be aware that prescription laws may be different in other countries than they are in the U.S. You can get a list of International Diabetes Federation groups from www.idf.org.You may also want to get a list of English-speaking doctors in the country or countries you plan to visit. Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at www.iamat.org.
Pack at least twice as much medication and glucose-testing equipment (diabetes test strips, glucose test meters, body fat weight scale and monitors etc) as you expect to need. Have a carry-on bag with you at all times that contain:
• Your insulin and testing supplies • Extra batteries for your diabetic glucose meter • All oral medications • Your ID and diabetes identity card • An air-tight snack pack of crackers or cheese, peanut butter, fruit, a juice box, and hard candy or glucose tablets
When flying, you can request a special meal or diabetic diet meals; check with your airlines to find out how much in advance you need to do this. If you use insulin, wait until you see your diabetic meals coming before you give yourself an injection so a delay doesn’t result in low blood sugar. To be safe, always carry some food with you.
Think about where you’ll store your insulin. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but storing it somewhere hot, such as in the glove compartment, or somewhere very cold, on ice, for example, can cause it to lose strength. Look for a travel pack that keeps insulin cool.
If you use insulin and plan to travel to another time zone, consult with your doctor or diabetes educator before you leave. If you’re heading east, you’ll have a shorter day, meaning you may need less insulin; if you go west, the longer day may mean you’ll need more insulin.
When you reach your destination, especially if you’ve had a long trip, take it easy for a few days. Check your blood sugar often with blood sugar monitors. When you’re out seeing the sights, wear comfortable diabetics shoes and don’t go barefoot. Check your feet daily for blisters, scratches, or redness, and seek medical care at the first sign of any of these.
Make taking care of your diabetes a priority on your travels and you’ll be rewarded with a fun and healthy vacation. Bon voyage!
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