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Traveling With Diabetes

by Kerri Sparling

The food in different countries can trip you up a bit, diabetes-wise, as well. Carrying a few foil-wrapped urine glucose-testing strips (such as Diastix) in your wallet can help you determine if a drink is sugar-free or not. If you’re able to pick up a guidebook about local cuisine, it may help in your efforts to determine the carbohydrate content of unfamiliar foods. When in doubt, dose your medicines conservatively, and monitor often; it’s better to be correcting a slightly high blood glucose level than chasing a low for hours.

Or what if you are traveling alone and find yourself needing diabetes assistance? If you are in a country where you do not speak the native language, write out a few key phrases on an index card and keep it in your wallet. Phrases like, “I have diabetes and I need some sugar. It’s an emergency,” or “Please take me to the nearest hospital. I have diabetes” might seem silly to have scrawled on a card in your wallet, but they can be literal lifesavers.

I may seem like a crazy person, with all the planning ahead and bringing-of-stuff. But I can’t help it: It’s the combination of my Type 1 diabetes and my type A personality. It’s part of my travel routine that I can’t deviate from. Regardless of where I’m going, all this health stuff comes along with me. It makes for a long packing list. I test the limits of airline carry-on policies. But when I travel, I’m confident that I’ve anticipated what kind of diabetes disasters can occur, and how to properly handle the situations.

Have diabetes, will travel — just not light!

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