Diabetes should never keep you from doing the things you love, and travel — even world travel — is no exception. However, with a blood glucose meter, prescription drugs or insulin, sharps, extra food, and more in tow, not to mention time zones and language barriers to cross, trips with diabetes certainly take some extra planning. Luckily, there are several resources that can give you pointers on who to call, what to pack, and even how to eat healthfully during your travels. Whether you are heading to another state or another continent, these Web sites, books, brochures, and supply companies can help you make sure you’re prepared for every possibility.
Online tip sheets
The following Web sites provide free, up-to-date information that you can read online or print out and keep with you while you set your travel plans in motion.
AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION: “WHEN YOU TRAVEL”
The American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Web page on travel contains advice on how best to plan ahead for a trip. The section entitled “See Your Doctor Before You Go” covers topics such as when (and why) to see your doctor before your trip, what written materials you will need from him (including prescriptions and a letter explaining your diabetes care regimen), and addresses and links to international diabetes and medical associations that can direct you to appropriate care at your destination if you are traveling overseas. The “Packing Tips” section lists items you will want to make sure to have with you in your “carry-on” bag at all times (whether you’re traveling by air or not). Other sections of the Web page offer advice on topics such as requesting special in-flight meals, insulin availability overseas, and how to manage insulin dosing when crossing time zones.
This page also features a link to another ADA Web page entitled “Traveling with diabetes supplies,” which provides travel tips developed in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The tips apply to people traveling by air within the 50 states and can also be found at the TSA’s Web site (see following entry).
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: “PERSONS WITH DIABETES”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division of the US Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for security at US airports. At its Web page, you can find the TSA’s specific tips for people traveling with diabetes, including a list of allowable items, labeling requirements, and guidance for requesting a visual inspection of supplies if you do not want them to go through a metal detector or x-ray machine. The TSA’s general page for “Persons with Disabilities & Medical Conditions,” found at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm, also contains helpful links to a list of steps you should take “Before You Go” as well as more “Tips for the Screening Process.”
CHILDREN WITH DIABETES: “TRAVELING WITH DIABETES”
Children With Diabetes, an “online community for kids, families and adults with diabetes,” publishes a comprehensive 14-item list of tips geared toward travelers with Type 1 diabetes. The list covers topics such as whether x-ray screening will affect insulin and blood glucose meters (don’t worry about it), where to store insulin on your trip (not the hotel room refrigerator), and what food, prescriptions, and extra supplies you should carry with you in case of emergency.
The Web site also features links to several other helpful pages. “Flying With Diabetes” covers some of the TSA’s advice and has additional links to the TSA’s and ADA’s pages on diabetes, children, and travel. The “Have Insulin, Will Fly: Diabetes Management During Air Travel and Time Zone Adjustment Strategies” link leads to a comprehensive article in the medical journal Clinical Diabetes on managing diabetes during air travel. (This article contains advice applicable to people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and can be accessed directly at http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/21/2/82.) The Children With Diabetes Web page’s links also include a chart that displays how to say “I have diabetes,” “pharmacy,” and “hospital” in a wide array of languages; a “Global Diabetes Organizations” link that provides contact information for diabetes associations in many countries; and a “Prescription Laws from Around the World” link that indicates whether a prescription is required to purchase insulin and syringes in all 50 US states and in some international locations.
INTERNATIONAL DIABETES CENTER: “TRAVEL”
The International Diabetes Center, a center for diabetes care, education, and research at the Park Nicollet Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a good basic primer on traveling with diabetes. This Web page contains links to a handy travel checklist, five general travel tips for people with diabetes, specific tips on air travel and overseas travel, and an overview of insulin adjustments for travel across time zones.
NATIONAL DIABETES EDUCATION PROGRAM: “HAVE DIABETES. WILL TRAVEL.”
This article is published by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and can be viewed as an Adobe PDF file. The article contains nuggets of advice divided into several categories. The section on planning ahead covers issues such as immunizations, prescriptions, and diabetes identification. The section on packing contains tips on diabetes supplies, insulin storage, and snacks. Tips for flying, road trips, and general traveling are also included.
THE DIABETES TRAVEL GUIDE
How to Travel With Diabetes
Anywhere in the World
Davida F. Kruger, MSN, RN, CS, CDE
American Diabetes Association
Alexandria, VA, 2000
This 224-page book, published by the ADA, covers every step of the traveling process, from preparation and packing to eating and exercising on the road to dealing with illness or planning for special situations. It also contains separate chapters on traveling with insulin and traveling with diabetes pills, and has a chapter discussing the nuances of car, plane, and boat travel. The book also features translations of important diabetes-related phrases into seven different languages.
It is currently available at www.amazon.com and other retailers. A second edition of this book was released in November 2006.
Several companies make carrying cases designed to keep insulin cool and diabetes supplies organized — items that can be very useful during a trip.
The Children With Diabetes Web site has a page entitled “Carrying Cases” (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com/d_06_800.htm) that is a good place to start comparison shopping. It features products from several different companies, ranging from small “wallets” to large, multifunctional organizers, and lists the phone numbers, addresses, and Web sites where you can find the featured products.
One company that carries a variety of brands and products designed to protect and transport diabetes supplies is The Insulin Case Shop, located in Plymouth, Minnesota. You can browse the company’s carry cases, “pump packs,” cooling products, and more at their Web site, www.insulincase.com, or call them toll free at (877) 829-8024. The Insulin Case Shop also sells its products through www.amazon.com.