It is great to be able to travel on vacation or for important work, as it changes your usual daily routine and thus helps you recharge with new positive energy. However, being on vacation does not mean that your diabetes condition has gone on vacation. So, it is critical, that you maintain your role as your primary caretaker in managing your diabetes. And it is possible! By planning in advance for your trip, you can manage your diabetes very well while traveling, without being disturbed.  Planning will probably save you from unpleasant health complications, consequently, you will be able to spend a comfortable, fun, and relaxing time during your trip.

So, how to plan for your trip?

  1. The first stage: Preparation and Research
    1. Visit your doctor: The aim of visiting your doctor is to undergo the necessary checkups, to ensure that your condition allows you to travel safely. Take advantage of your visit and ask your doctor about the following:
      • What effect might your intended activities have on your diabetes and what should you do about it.
      • How to amend your insulin doses when you are travelling to a country in a different time zone.
      • Ask your doctor to write you prescriptions for your medications in case you lose them. Also, a letter from the doctor, stating that you have diabetes with the reason why you need your medical supplies, may benefit you during the inspection phase at the airport.
    2.  Consult with your health coach about possible ways to eat healthy at restaurants.
    3. Learn some useful phrases such as: “I want this dish without bread”, “I want this dish with a salad instead of potatoes”, “I have diabetes” and “Where is the nearest pharmacy?”
    4. Order a special meal for the trip that fits with your healthy diet or pack it yourself.
    5. After booking the ticket and hotel, search online for pharmacies and clinics in your planned residence area, put them clearly in a list and keep it in your wallet or save them on your mobile in case you needed them.
    6. Get a medical bracelet that declares that you have diabetes and any other health condition.
    7. Get travel insurance, it might be very helpful in case you accidentally missed your flight or need medical care.
  2.  The second stage: Packing
    1.  Pack your diabetes supplies such as insulin, glucose tablets, snacks, etc.… in a handbag that you can carry with you during the flight time and that is for 2 reasons. First, it will be close to you when you need it. Second, in the checked luggage storage area, the temperature is very low, which may affect the effectiveness of the insulin.
    2. Pack twice the amount of medicine you will need.
    3. If you are travelling by car, prepare an icebox and fill it with healthy meals, potable water, diabetes medicine and equipment such as a blood sugar monitor, insulin pump and test strips; these items need to be kept away from the heat. However, make sure to not put the insulin directly on the ice inside the box.
  3.  The third stage: Passing by the Airport.
    1. Airport x-ray machine can damage your glucose monitor or insulin pump as they pass by, so ask for a manual inspection.
    2. In case you did not pack healthy snacks with you, you can always find some, whether at the airport or on a road trip. Here are some examples you can find:
      1. Fruits, nuts, and yoghurt
      2. Salads with chicken or fish
      3. Eggs and omelettes
    3. You can tweak some regular meals to be healthier, having burgers and fajitas with lettuce wraps instead of bread, for instance.
    4. Stop and get out of the car or walk in the aisle of the plane every hour to stimulate blood circulation and prevent blood clots, as people with diabetes are more prone to this risk.
    5. Set an alarm on your phone to take your medication especially if you are travelling across time zones.
  4. The fourth stage: When you reach your destination.
    1. Your blood sugar may be outside the target range at first, but your body will adjust in a few days. Check your blood sugar and treat highs or lows according to the instructions of your doctor or health coach.
    2. If your physical activity will be higher than usual, check your blood sugar level before and after activities and adjust the number of carbohydrates you eat and insulin you take as needed.
    3. Maintaining a healthy food style is challenging during travel, especially when you‘re at a buffet, as studies show that the more food variety is offered the more one would overheat. So, try to avoid the buffet and its temptations by ordering specific meals from room service.
    4. Ask your tour guide or someone in charge of the hotel to show you the locations of healthy restaurants nearby.
    5. Avoid dehydration by avoiding excessive physical activity and making sure to drink water continuously and sufficiently.
    6. Avoid getting sunburn by putting on sunscreen and wearing a hat and light-coloured clothing of suitable fabric.
    7. Do not walk barefoot, not even on the beach.
    8. Hot weather can change the way the body uses insulin. Therefore, you may need to check your blood sugar frequently and adjust your insulin dose, your food and drink. Remember to bring wet wipes with you so that you can clean your hands before checking your blood sugar level.

Finally, you might think that travelling and being healthy at the same time is impossible. The truth is, travelling with diabetes is a bit of a challenge indeed, nevertheless it is mostly a matter of planning your trip smartly and well in advance. Remember, the more you plan ahead, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy all the exciting experiences on your trip.


Have a nice happy trip!