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Tips for travelling with Diabetes

Nervous about travelling abroad with diabetes?

That’s ok, you may be eating different food and in a different climate and your readings are likely to be affected. There are many things you can do to protect yourself and your medication so that diabetes does not get in the way of your trip. We have listed below our most important tips for diabetics to follow when they travel.


Get a letter from your doctor before you travel

Before you start your travels, ask your doctor to write a letter detailing the medication you take. This will be useful at airports when your luggage is checked at security to confirm what you are taking and also if you have an emergency and need to get hold of more medication when you are away from home.


Pack too much

Take at least double the amount of medicals supplies to what you would usually need if you are going on holiday. If you are relocating abroad, take even more supplies to allow time for setting up your new medical supplier when you arrive.


Pack snacks

There may be a delay with your journey or food may not be served on time due to turbulence, so make sure you are prepared with snacks in case you need them. You don’t want to be caught out, especially when you may not have access to food. This includes hypo treatment like glucose tablets.


Pack medication in your hand luggage

The hold of an aircraft can get really cold which could freeze your insulin. Worse than this and much more likely, your bags could get lost. It is advised that you carry your medication in your hand luggage, however you travel. Keeping all your medication, including your tester, test strips and fast acting glucose in one smaller bag makes it easily accessible should you need it quickly.


Find out where you can get more medication at your destination

Contact your insulin or medication supplier to check if it is available in your destination country. Sometimes the names of medications can change in different locations, so make sure you are aware of this before travelling.


Be aware of time zones

Be prepared for crossing multiple time zones and adjust your medication accordingly. If you are travelling from San Francisco to Sydney for instance, you will be skipping an entire day! 


“I am Diabetic”

A number of diabetics like to keep a note on them stating that they are diabetic, and which type, in their bag/purse/wallet just in case something was to happen to them when they are alone. It is also advised to learn and have this written in the language of where you are visiting for extra personal safety.


Keeping your insulin cool

There are articles that tell you should not let your insulin get too hot, however there isn’t any research to back this up fully or what ‘too hot’ means. There are cooling packs you can take to put your insulin pens in as a precaution if you believe they will be left in direct sunlight (note, they must be cool packs, not freezer packs). The best advice here is if your insulin has got hot and isn’t working like it should, bin it.


Cold to hot / hot to cold climates

Changing climates can affect your blood glucose control.

Insulin is absorbed quicker in hot climates, meaning you may be more likely to hypos. The hot weather can also cause misleading test results by affecting the accuracy of your reader, or your insulin could have been damaged by the heat and not working correctly.

Cold climates work in a different way. Insulin is absorbed more slowly in the cold but it can speed up if you suddenly get warm. This could cause a hypo. Your body also uses up more energy in cold climates whilst trying to keep warm, so this must be factored in too.

In both hot and cold climates, you must be careful of your feet if you suffer from poor circulation or neuropathy. You may not be able to feel your feet burning in the sun or getting too cold, potentially causing frostbite.


Travel & Medical Insurance

Make sure you fully disclose all details of your medical history with your travel or medical insurance company. If you do not disclose all of the correct information that is required, your policy will be invalid and you will not be covered. It really isn’t worth the risk to save a small amount on your premium.

We offer a number of packages to suit the needs of everyone travelling abroad, including diabetics. If you have diabetes and are looking for help or advice in being covered for travelling or moving abroad, give our London based team a call today and they would be happy to assist you: +44 (0)207 590 8800