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Traveling with your Insulin and Pumps

Traveling to new places gets you out of your routine—that’s a big part of the fun. But delayed meals, unfamiliar food, being more active than usual, and different time zones can all disrupt diabetes management. Plan ahead so you can count on more fun and less worry on the way and when you get to your destination.1

Before You Go

Visit your doctor for a checkup to ensure you’re fit for the trip. Make sure to ask your doctor:1

  • How your planned activities could affect your diabetes and what to do about it.
  • How to adjust your insulin doses if you’re traveling to a different time zone.
  • To provide prescriptions for your medicines in case you lose them or run out.
  • If you’ll need any vaccines.
  • To write a letter stating that you have diabetes and why you need your medical supplies.

While You’re Traveling1

  • If you’re driving, pack a cooler with healthy foods and plenty of water to drink.
  • Don’t store insulin or diabetes medicine in direct sunlight or in a hot car; keep them in the cooler too. Don’t put insulin directly on ice or a gel pack.
  • Heat can also damage your blood sugar monitor, insulin pump, and other diabetes equipment. Don’t leave them in a hot car, by a pool, in direct sunlight, or on the beach. The same goes for supplies such as test strips.
  • Stop and get out of the car or walk up and down the aisle of the plane or train every hour or two to prevent blood clots (people with diabetes are at higher risk).
  • Set an alarm on your phone for taking medicine if you’re traveling across time zones.

When you reach your destination1

  • Your blood sugar may be out of your target range at first, but your body should adjust in a few days. Check your blood sugar often and treat highs or lows as instructed by your doctor or diabetes educator.
  • If you’re going to be more active than usual, check your blood sugar before and after and make adjustments to food, activity, and insulin as needed.
  • Don’t overdo physical activity during the heat of the day. Avoid getting a sunburn and don’t go barefoot, not even on the beach.
  • You may not be able to find everything you need to manage your diabetes away from home, especially in another country. Learn some useful phrases, such as “I have diabetes” and “where is the nearest pharmacy?”
  • If your vacation is in the great outdoors, bring wet wipes so you can clean your hands before you check your blood sugar.

References:
1
21 Tips for Traveling with Diabetes [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 4 July 2021]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/traveling-with-diabetes.html

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