Tips to diabetics who have to travel frequently.

For people living with diabetes, every day has to be carefully planned. Travelling can be a stressful affair. Follow these tips and enjoy your break.

Keep medicines handy: If you’re flying, put all your medication, including back-up insulin, in your hand luggage. Exposure to heat/cold in checked-in baggage can spoil insulin and ruin glucometers. Use a cold pack, not a freezer pack, to keep your insulin cool. The same rules apply when travelling by train, bus and car.

Stick to your routine: A delayed flight may mean sitting in the lounge for hours, or change in time zones may mean feeling hungry when you should be asleep. So, try to stick to your routine as far as possible. Carry wholegrain crackers, light popcorn, baked chips, or rice cakes to avoid a hypoglycaemic attack. Ensure that you don’t go hungry for long periods. If you use an insulin pump, adjust your insulin pump’s clock to reflect the time zone change.

Carry the prescription: Carry a note from your doctor stating that you have diabetes and need to have your medication with you at all times. Keep a translation in the language of the country you are visiting. Always wear a medical identification bracelet that states your condition, and if possible, an emergency contact number. Save an emergency contact group (with numbers of relatives and doctors) in your mobile.

Be ready for low sugar levels: Sightseeing or adventure sports may increase the level of physical activity leading to hypoglycaemia. So, keep glucose tablets handy, as they are easy to carry, won’t melt, explode in heat or leak or become sticky.

Eat cautiously: Read up on local food so that you know what is available. If you take mealtime insulin, try to work out the amount of carbohydrates so that you take the right amount. Test your blood glucose before and after meals to see how new foods are affecting your control.

Must-haves

Extra syringes, glucose tablets and testing strips

Back-up supply of insulin

Glucagon kit

Batteries and supplies for pumps

Alcohol swabs to disinfect finger and injection sites

First aid kit (for wounds, especially those on the feet)

Extra glucose meter