Taking Diabetes on a Road Trip

I love long road trips. Leaving the house while it is still dark, watching the sunrise through the car window, taking in the changing scenery as the highway fades into the distance. It appeals to my sense of adventure.

But packing for a road trip is not as simple as it used to be for me. The checklist for traveling is a lot longer because of Type 2 diabetes. It is a fact that when we disrupt our normal routine and go away for a while, we do not leave diabetes behind. Travel takes extra planning.

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From experience I have made a list. These are some of things you should take on a road trip if you have diabetes.

First of all, assemble a diabetes kit that includes your glucose monitor with extra batteries, a backup monitor for emergencies, plenty of lancets, and a pack of cleaning wipes. I use diaper wipes, but any type of wet wipe will do.

Experts say to pack an extra three days’ worth of medicine just in case something unexpected happens. If you use insulin, keep it in a cooling case, something like the Frio that is available online.

Never pack your diabetes kit in your suitcase in the trunk or back of the car. Put it somewhere close to the driver’s seat so you can find it easily. Do not put insulin in your glove box either; it will get too hot there.

Do not leave home without some kind of medical alert bracelet or necklace. If you have not bought one, now is the time. You can spend as little as $5 for something simple, or you can get a fancy one that looks like jewelry. Whatever you choose, never travel without it.

It would also be a good idea to get a Flash drive and save your medical history on it. There are tiny Flash drives with cute covers that attach to a keychain. You could also carry one in your wallet. It can contain everything from medical conditions and medications to doctors’ names and allergies.

If your phone has a program for it, put your medical information there too. My phone has a health program listing my conditions and medications as well as a next-of-kin contact.

It is a great idea to carry all the information a doctor or EMT might need to know about you, just in case. Even a card in your wallet with medications and allergies will help.

Bring good snacks and stash them close by you in the car in case of sugar lows. Things like fruit and granola bars are good, as well as crackers and hard candy. Carry water to keep yourself hydrated, too. Glucose tabs are also good in case of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Include in your suitcase some extra comfortable socks and shoes for walking, and pack foot powder. Make a medicine kit and include something for constipation and for diarrhea, since traveling can cause both problems. Put in pain and fever medication as well as bandages and a tube of antibiotic.

When you map out your trip and the amount of time you will be driving, plan to stop every couple of hours to walk around and stretch your legs. Diabetes can play havoc with the blood flow to your extremities, and sitting for long periods is not good for you. Remember to use your blood glucose monitor often, since driving adds to stress, leading to blood sugar ups and downs.

Think about your normal routine so you can include what you will need for comfort and for safety before you take off. Then diabetes cannot spoil your fun. Your condition should not keep you from going on adventures. You can never forget that you have diabetes, but don’t let it hold you back.