Let’s talk traveling and Managing Diabetes

I’ve always loved to travel, and so when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, one of my biggest fears was that the disease was going to keep me tethered to home. Thankfully, nearly 14 years later, I’ve learned that diabetes doesn’t have to limit my adventures, as long as I’m thoughtful and prepared – and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to far-flung places including China, Croatia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Siberia, Mongolia and Tibet.

Traveling with Diabetes: How to Stay Safe

  1. Know how to contact your care team. Talk to your doctor ahead of time about how to get in touch with him or her (or the office) in the case of an emergency, especially if it strikes after hours. It can be helpful, too, to look up local diabetes centers or respected hospitals in the city or countries that you’re traveling to, just in case.
  2. Carry a card in your wallet saying that you have diabetes . . . in the language of the country that you’re visiting. (Google Translate can usually take care of this for you, even if its grammar is not entirely correct!) If you’re wearing an insulin pump, say that, too.
  3. Get a note from your doctor on professional letterhead saying that the syringes, insulin vials, and other assorted supplies cluttering up your carry-on are medically necessary for your personal diabetes care, and that you should be allowed to keep them with you at all times. This can be helpful going through airport security.
  4. Speaking of carry-on bags, never check your diabetes supplies. They have to be in carry-on (if, like, me, you always find yourself in group 5 for boarding, politely explain your situation to the desk attendant and ask if you can board earlier). I once had a bag get lost on the way from Turin, Italy to Vilnius, Lithuania and it took five days before they tracked down my bag in Milan. It was one thing to have to spend a week washing my one pair of underwear in the sink. It would have been another to not have syringes or test strips or insulin, personally I never start a trip without my blood boost formula dr oz supplement.
  5. Keep a stash of emergency supplies in a separate bag. (I’m talking spare pump infusion sets, an extra vial of insulin, syringes, test strips, etc – whatever you would need for three to five days.) This way if your main bag gets lost or stolen, you will have sufficient supplies to take care of yourself while you sort out what to do next.

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