1. Keep Your Supplies Close: Always have your diabetes supplies accessible. If you are flying, be sure to pack supplies (and back-up insulin) in your carry-on bag. Even if you are driving, pack a bag and keep it in the car, not the trunk.
2. Prepare for the Unexpected: Travel often throws curveballs. When you add diabetes to the mic, being prepared can make an unexpected situation less stressful. “Make sure you have a backup plan,” says Ami Knackstedt, CDE, a certified insulin pump trainer who also has type 2 diabetes. “Bring copies of prescriptions, phone numbers for your health team, and at least three days’ worth of extra supplies. Delays can happen so pack snacks in case meals are missed.”
3. Test Your Blood Glucose: Travel effects how you manage your diabetes. You may have to sit for long periods of time in an airport or in a car and that can cause your blood glucose to rise. A lot of activity, such as sightseeing, can cause your blood glucose to go lower than normal. Testing your blood glucose before and after you eat will help you stay in control out on the road.
4. Mention Your Pump at Airports: Check with your pump manufacturer about going through a full-body X-ray scanner. It may damage the pump, possibly voiding its warranty. “Most airport security personnel know what an insulin pump is, but it’s important to show them especially if you choose to do a pat down instead of going through the scanner,” says frequent traveler Sarah Waskom, who has type 1 diabetes and lives in Seattle. “Security may also want to test your pump to make sure there aren’t any chemicals on it, so make sure to prepare for the extra time, she says.
5. While visiting amusement parks , the magnetization in some types of rides, such as roller coasters, amy cause your insulin pump to malfunction, so it’s best to take it off for the ride.
6. Make plans for Time Zone Changes: Traveling through time zones can affect blood glucose levels, medication times, and meal times. Before traveling across the country, map out your travel timeline. This will define when and where you change the time on your meter and other diabetes-related devices, as well as when to eat meals and take medications. “If you are crossing time zones that are four hours, or more apart, talk with your doctor about how to handle medication times,” Knackstedt says. She also advises testing your blood glucose more frequently.
7. Stop Often on the Open Road: Driving for long periods of time may cause unexpected fluctuations in blood glucose levels But with planning and preparation, you can minimize glucose roller coaster rides. Make frequent stops to walk around. “Keep yourself hydrated and pack snacks to help blood sugar levels stay steady.” Knackstedt says. Plan and extra 30 minutes to one hour into your trip time for stops. Your body has a memory and will know when you are less active during certain parts of the day. “Getting creative with your stops and schedule will keep you active and stop you from munching on not-so-healthy foods.” she says.
8. Download These Apps: A variety of apps for smartphones and tablets can aid in trip planning and dandling the unexpected. Use these apps to break up road trips, count carbs, and find the best restaurants.
Roadside America is the go-to travel guide for unusual attractions such as the world’s largest ball yarn. Use this app to get creative with stops-make it fun! Available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch.
Calorie Counter by FatSecret finds nutrition information for foods. A full breakdown for nutrients, including carbohydrate, can be found for meals at popular restauraunts, snacks form convenience stores, and groceries from supermarkets. Available for iPhone and Android.
Urban Spoon finds a variety of focal restaurants based on your location in a city, making it easier to find and choose diabetes-friendly restaurants and meals. Available for iPhone and Android.
References: Toni Mortensen/Diabetic Living Magazine: Summer 2013