If you need to take your oral medications during your day trip, keep your pills in an air-tight container. Take what you need for the day, plus one extra pill for an unexpected travel delay. Most medication labels recommend storage in a cool, dry place and keeping them away from excessive heat and humidity. Remember that insulin in use does not need to be refrigerated, but it is sensitive to and can ruin in extreme temperatures. If you will be outside for an extended period in very hot or cold weather, use an insulated cold (not frozen) travel pack or gel pack to store your insulin. Take extra insulin, syringes, or pens needles with you in case your insulin gets broken or misplaced.
Insulin pump users should talk with their provider and diabetes educator for general directions on what to do during their day out. When people are more active than usual, they need less insulin, so you may need temporary basal dosing. If you plan to do any extreme activities or sports, contact your insulin pump manufacturer for recommendations about how to avoid damaging the pump. If in doubt, you may want to consider disconnecting your pump and using an alternative (prescribed) insulin delivery source for the day. Finally, remember to take extra alcohol pads, infusion sets, reservoirs, cartridges, pods, batteries, and anything else you need should a complete change out be necessary.
Problem-solving and reducing risks
Increased activity, heat, sweating, and dehydration can all impact your blood glucose control. When a person is more active, hot, and sweating, that person’s blood glucose level can often drop, causing hypoglycemia (or low blood glucose levels). Be ready to treat hypoglycemia with a source of glucose. Glucose tablets or gels are ideal treatment options and are stable in extreme temperatures. Four to five glucose tablets (15 to 20 grams of carbohydrate) are appropriate treatment for hypoglycemia. Take your glucagon kit and make sure one of your travel companions knows how to administer it. Pack urine ketone strips in case you have high blood glucose readings or become ill.
You also need to protect your skin and feet. Take proper fitting shoes that are broken in. Wearing a new pair of shoes is not ideal during a day trip because they may create blisters or sores. Always wear shoes during your trip and change into a new pair of dry shoes if necessary. Protect your skin from extreme sun, heat, and chilly weather. Apply sunblock every two hours, after swimming or sweating, and use insect repellent.
Specific destination considerations
• Use sun block as directed.
• Avoid direct sunlight, especially during peak hours; limit your hours in the sun; wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
• Stay hydrated.
• Wear water shoes; avoid walking barefoot on the sand.
• Hike with at least one companion.
• Stay on the path and tell others where you’re planning to go.
• Wear hiking boots or shoes.
• Call ahead to Guest Services to see if the park has any special accommodations for children with diabetes.
• Research food options before your visit.
• Find the First Aid Stations and restrooms when you first arrive.
During the planning stage, you may find it helpful to make a list of items you might need during a day trip. You can customize it to your diabetes treatment plan and needs as well as to various destinations.
When you have diabetes, it pays to be well prepared when you take a trip, even if just for a day. A little planning can go a long way toward reducing travel-related stress. That way, you can focus on enjoying yourself and having terrific day-trip adventure.
Want to learn more about staying healthy with diabetes this summer? Read “Summertime: Hazardous for People With Diabetes?” “Summer Portion Control: From Beach to Barbecue,” and “Planning an Active Summer.”