Kellie’s Summer Travel Tips
1. Always pack enough insulin and monitoring supplies to last twice the traveling time.
2. Keep insulin and monitoring supplies with you. Do not put insulin in the baggage compartment of a plane. It will likely freeze, and thawed insulin is not very effective!!
3. For pumpers, consider packing the required sites change supplies in individual Ziploc bags. That way, you can easily grab one Ziploc bag and have all the required pump site change equipment enclosed.
4. For pumpers, some of the pump companies will provide you a back-up loaner / travel pump in case of malfunction (especially if travelling in remote areas). Remember to have pump settings written down and with you – if the pump dies, so do the settings! It is also wise to take an insulin pen or syringe with you too – you at least need rapid acting insulin (Novolog / Humalog or Apidra).
5. For pumpers, do not take the pump off and put it through the security x-ray machine. Wear it through the walk-through security check. It is unlikely to set off the alarm. If the security officer gives you a hard time ask in a polite but confident voice, “Please get me your supervisor.”
6. Take illness medication with you – something for diarrhea and for vomiting especially (rectal suppository ideal for vomiting).
7. For pumpers, update the time in the pump as you get to a new time zone. Consider this also for those people taking Lantus or Levemir – 10 p.m. in one place might be 3 a.m. in another destination, and who wants to be injecting at 3 a.m. during vacation!
8. Keep contact numbers / email addresses of your diabetes healthcare team on hand.
9. An ID bracelet or necklace is essential. There are really cool ones these days!
10. Keep well hydrated.
11. Travel food – have enough supplies for 24 hours.
12. If traveling to a foreign country, do a little homework on the types of foods you are likely to be eating – especially if needing to carb count.
13. Travel vaccinations are essential depending on where you are traveling.
14. If traveling to a foreign destination, know the equivalent emergency number for 911. Know how to say that your child has diabetes and a low blood glucose level in that language.
15. Travel coolers are a great way to keep insulin cool at the beach, but don’t place it directly near ice – wrap it in a towel, for instance. Be mindful about hotel refrigerators in terms of temperature regulation – keep supplies away from the freezer section and perhaps wrapped in a towel.
16. You can buy padded / rubber insulin vial holders – for sure you will drop your only full bottle of insulin on the hotel floor! If it is padded, it may just bounce right back at you!
17. Carry low blood glucose supplies and ketone strips with you!
18. Check blood sugar levels frequently if increasing activity or in places of high altitude. Insulin amounts might need changing.
Kellie Rodriguez, MSN, CDE, CPT
Director of Patient Education
Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami