Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Traveling With Diabetes

by Carol L. Hernandez, RN, CNOR

When I have called international carriers before trips abroad, they have suggested carrying a doctor’s letter and list of supplies and medicines. It is perhaps because I have always had the letter ready with my passport at the security station that I have never been asked to produce insulin boxes or actual pharmacy labels. But being prepared to show all of the above forms of medicine identification is the best way to ensure a trouble-free security check.

Carrying diabetes supplies
When flying, I carry all of my diabetes supplies in my carry-on luggage. They all fit well inside a wheeled backpack, which is easy to carry or pull along. It is also convenient for security officers to examine if they choose to do so, and it stays with me in case of delays or cancellations. When going through security, I have also learned to mention beforehand that I wear an insulin pump so that the personnel do not attempt to pull on it when they feel the pump in my pocket.

Insulin should never be placed in checked baggage since the baggage compartments of airplanes, buses, and other forms of transportation can get very hot or cold, and either extreme will degrade the insulin. Likewise, you should never leave insulin in the trunk or glove compartment of a car or leave a bag containing insulin out in direct sunlight. Be careful at hotels without a refrigerator; don’t, for example, set your diabetes supply case on a sunny window sill. If you put your insulin in the ice bucket overnight, you may want to remove it in the morning (mine was tossed out by housekeeping on one trip).

Many frequent travelers invest in an insulated insulin carrying case to keep their insulin cool. For a list of such cases, see “Carrying Cases.” Homemade insulin carriers using thermoses and ice, for example, will also work to keep insulin cool but are not much less expensive than a modest commercial case and may be bulkier and less convenient.

Some travel guides recommend taking twice the amount of supplies that you would normally need for the time span of the trip to allow for unexpected problems and delays. I have found that taking what I would normally use plus enough for a few more days (and enough pump supplies to allow for two extra infusion set changes) suffices for most trips, and usually I have surplus to bring home. When carrying oral medicines, it is often easiest to carry the original prescription bottle rather than count out pills just for your trip. You may also want to bring extra batteries for your blood glucose meter, particularly if you are traveling to a remote area.

One thing that I do routinely is set aside two days’ worth of medicines and supplies in a separate place (such as in my checked luggage or in my purse) just in case my carry-on luggage is lost or stolen. That way, I know that I will have enough to last until I can get to a pharmacy and get my prescriptions refilled. When I travel to a developing country where pharmacies may not be easily accessible, I tend to split my emergency stores among a couple of different locations, including my travel partner’s carry-on, and to pack a bit more than my usual extra amounts. The same practice would work well for a boat trip or cruise, especially if your itinerary calls for days at a time at sea between ports of call.

Maintaining blood glucose control
Now we’re on our way! The excitement of travel alone can affect your blood glucose control, and so can time zone differences and variations in activity level. Evaluating how each of these affects your blood glucose levels requires frequent monitoring and accurate record keeping. A walk that would seem easy and relaxed at home often seems more intense when it is combined with sightseeing and the joyful stress of being someplace new and different. Checking blood glucose levels before and after walking tours and other physical activities can help you notice changes and patterns you might not see at home. Always carry a source of glucose such as hard candy, glucose tablets, regular soda, or fruit juice in case of an unexpected drop in blood glucose levels. Small cans of juice are available at just about any supermarket.

Page    1    2    3    4    Show All    

Also in this article:
Carrying Cases
Planning for International Travel

 

 

More articles on Diabetes Basics

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

Summertime: Hazardous for People With Diabetes?
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy…" goes the refrain to an old but popular song. Summertime... Blog

Back From the Border — and Back to Basics
I just got back from Canada, where I played a couple shows with a local band that goes up there... Blog

Low and Behold — Stress Happens
"Did you know your hand is shaking?" my husband asked. "Yes," I responded with all the sarcasm... Blog

I'm worried about starting on insulin. What can I do? Get tip


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 3: Smart Monitoring

10 Keys to Long-Term Weight Loss

Take Your Best Shot: Stay Up to Date on Vaccines

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions