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Diabetic Travellers

Diabetics know that taking extra care of their health is paramount. When travelling abroad, it can be daunting, especially for the first time, as you need to take your diet and insulin injections into consideration.

It is important to think through your trip. Do your homework on the destination you are going to. What kind of activities are available to you, and will you be taking part? Will you be more or less active than at home? What kind of food is offered locally? This will help you to be prepared.

You should visit your GP before any trip to talk through your plans as they will be able to advise you further.

Some points to take into consideration include

  • Why not ask your GP to sign a note stating your condition, in case any local authorities ask you for details. They will then be able to contact your GP and verify your condition, and why your are in possession of needles!
  • Make sure you get a prescription for your medication. Make sure this will be enough to cover the entire trip with a little extra to spare, just in case.
  • A diabetic identity bracelet is a good idea, should you need medical attention throughout your stay. Remember, you may not be in a fit state to communicate properly and this bracelet will help those who are caring for you.
  • Immunisations are normally safe for diabetics. However, you should discuss this thoroughly with your GP before you book any.
  • Remember when taking out an insurance policy that you must state your condition. Failure to do so may result in the policy being void should you need to claim back once you return. Shop around for a good deal, and don’t just go for the first offer. Find something that suits your specific needs.
  • Ask at Diabetes UK if you need help in finding a good insurance policy.

Travelling with Insulin

Throughout the journey, you should check your carbohydrate intake regularly and, if required, top-up with snacks on the journey. Don’t take your insulin until you see your food coming to you; on a flight there can be all kinds of delays and the passengers aren't always kept informed. If your food is delayed, don’t be embarrassed to ask for something to snack on while you wait.

You must look into where your are going, and see what kind of food is available to you. If you are unsure if the cuisine will appeal to you, take plenty of snacks with you. This will make sure you never go hungry and will always have something to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Always keep your insulin with you at all times. Insulin should always be carried in your hand luggage, away from direct sunlight and out of freezing conditions. It is perfectly fine, and safe, to store your insulin in the luggage hold of a plain, although when travelling to tropical regions of the world, you will be required to keep the insulin in a cold pack, or in a cool place.

Arriving at your destination

Once you arrive at your destination, remember that heat will effect the rate at which your insulin is absorbed. In hotter climates, insulin will be absorbed quicker. It is therefore important to monitor your levels in hot weather and adjust your diet as required.

If you are travelling somewhere with a colder climate, you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and never let your insulin freeze.

Of course, a lot of people will come down ill while on holiday, usually with sickness or diarrhoea, due to your body adjusting to different food. You must keep a check on your blood sugar levels if you are sick. Maintain a good level of carbohydrates in your diet, although eating may be the last thing you feel like doing! Don't delay seeing a doctor if the problem continues or if you are worried about your condition.