6 tips for travelling with diabetes
Preparation is keyExperts recommend starting to prepare around four to six weeks before your departure date. Make sure to take your diabetes ID, as well as a letter from your GP and any insulin or other injectable medication you may need. Remember to keep your medications with you in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage gets lost or damaged during your trip. This way, you know you have the essentials on hand if anything does go awry. If you are carrying about the 100ml limit of liquids allowed in your hand luggage, speak with your airline or the airport ahead of time. In some cases, authorisation for essential medicines means you may be allowed to exceed this limit - however, authentication is needed.
Declare it on your travel insuranceWhile declaring medical issues when booking your travel insurance can push up the price, it is important to include all relevant medical conditions. By failing to declare any medical problems you have, you may invalidate your policy. Putting your health and wellbeing first is more important than saving a little cash on a cheaper travel insurance deal. If you are travelling within Europe, having a European Health Insurance Card (for now) will entitle you to reduced cost or free treatment. Our access to European healthcare when travelling is likely to change when/if the UK leaves the European Union without making a deal.
Speak with your airlineIf you’re jetting off for your next holiday, many airlines will be able to provide information ahead of time for when meals will be served and may be able to say what food will be available. While this can help you to plan your insulin times, it may still be useful to pack some extra healthy snacks in case the meals provided don’t have enough carbohydrates to keep you going.
Bring extra suppliesThe NHS recommends bringing twice as many medical supplies as you would typically use for your diabetes. This way, if anything goes wrong with flights or delays or if anything goes missing, you should still have enough supplies to see you through. Make sure you know where you can go to get extra insulin in case of emergency. Finding this out ahead of time can save you valuable time and worry if things don’t go to plan.
Visit your GPIf you’re nervous about travelling or haven’t travelled far from home previously, it can be worth having a quick check-up with your GP to make sure you’re fit for your planned trip. If you’ve planned an active trip or it may involve activities outside of your normal routines such as increased walking or hotter temperatures, it may be worth asking:
- If your planned activities may affect your diabetes (and what you can do about it)
- If/how you should adjust your insulin doses to match up with your new time zone
- If you should get any specific vaccines
Avoid whole-body scannersIf you have an insulin pump or CGM, Diabetes UK says you shouldn’t go through a whole-body scanner or x-ray machine, nor should any of your luggage containing a pump or CGM. X-rays can cause these to stop working properly. Diabetes UK recommends downloading a Medical Device Awareness Card to keep with you and show security, as well as to contact the manufacturer of your devices if you have any questions about going through whole-body scanners.
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