You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world. —William Hazlitt
At some point, all of us travel from one place to another — for pleasure, business, or some other reason. And unless a trip is extremely short, the need to eat will eventually arise.
When you’ve got diabetes, healthy eating is an essential part of your diabetes treatment plan, and because your diabetes goes along with you wherever you go, so should healthful eating. Sticking with your meal plan while traveling may take more work than it does at home, but it is possible.
Planning ahead is key. As you think about the other aspects of caring for your diabetes on the road — how much medicine and monitoring supplies to bring, how changes in activity level may affect your blood glucose, and what health-care services are available in the locations you’ll be visiting — take some time to research and plan for your food options, as well. You’ll want to think about what will be available to eat while traveling, as well as what will be available at your destination.
Traveling by car
Traveling by car gives you the most control over when you leave, what route you take, and where you stop along the way. It also gives you the option of bringing your own food with you to eat on the road and to have at your destination. For food safety purposes, it’s best to use a cooler (with cold packs or ice) to store any foods that would normally be kept in a refrigerator. A cooler is also useful for storing water and other beverages, such as fruit juice to treat hypoglycemia. Foods that can normally be kept at room temperature may be OK in the car for short periods or in cold weather, but in hot weather, it may be safer to place anything that could spoil (such as bread) in a cooler. Place foods that could absorb water in secure plastic bags.
Before you start driving, check the road map for the locations of rest stops. Many rest stops have picnic tables, so if the weather permits, you can eat your homemade lunch or snacks outside. If you plan on buying food along the way, take some time to research what restaurants you are likely to pass and to review their nutrition information. Most chain and fast-food restaurants post this information on their Web sites, or you could purchase a book that contains this type of information, such as The Calorie-King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter. Identify the healthier options at the restaurants you expect to pass on your route.
Several mobile applications (apps) can also help you find places to eat, and some allow you to preview the menu. Some examples include TripAdvisor (locates restaurants and includes reviews but not menus), Google Places (locates restaurants and includes reviews but not menus), GoMeals (an iPhone app specifically directed at people with diabetes; locates restaurants and includes menus and nutrition information), My Calorie Counter by Everyday Health, Inc. (does not locate restaurants but lists nutrition information for restaurant items and compares selected foods with other foods if desired), and Calorie Count (does not locate restaurants but lists nutrition information for restaurant menu items, including fast-food restaurants).
Taking a cruise
A cruise ship could be thought of as both a mode of transportation and a destination all in one: As the ship travels toward its official destination, you relax and enjoy the on-board amenities, including the food. Typically, food is available at all hours, and between the dining rooms, specialty restaurants, all-you-can-eat buffets, casual cafés, snack bars, and 24-hour room service, it’s easy to overeat on a cruise.
On the plus side, cruise ships can usually accommodate special dietary needs such as vegetarian, low-fat, or low-sodium meals. It’s best to call ahead to arrange for this, and you may even need to submit your requirements in writing.