Traveling with diabetes

Travel tips for diabetics when traveling for a day, or an extended period of time.

There’s nothing more exciting than planning a summer vacation! Whether it’s a day trip or a longer vacation, there are special considerations if you have a chronic disease like diabetes.

As you prepare for even a short day trip, Michigan State University Extension recommends these tips for a day away:

  • What medications will you need for the day? Make sure you pack all prescribed and over-the-counter medications you would take if you were at home. If you have diabetes and will need to test your blood glucose level before you return home, remember to pack your glucose meter along with several test strips and lancets. Most meters come with a travel kit that keeps everything packed together.
  • Pack a first-aid kit that includes medication for common ailments like upset stomachs, heart burn, headaches or sunburns. Include antibiotic cream and several sizes of Band-Aid’s. Small scissors, tweezers and nail clippers are helpful. If you’re not sure what to pack, check the Red Cross for a list of emergency first-aid items.
  • Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, you might need insect repellant, suntan lotion, wet wipes or antibiotic wipes.
  • Snacks and picnic meals need to be carefully planned and packed. This is especially true if you have diabetes. List all of the meals you will be eating during your time away and decide if you will pack the meal or purchase it. When planning snacks and meals, follow your recommended diabetes meal plan and include the correct number of carbs or food groups. Typically snacks should include a carb food and a protein food, and meals should include a food from each food group: veggies, fruit, grain, protein and dairy.
  • Plan to stay hydrated. Take bottled water or other low calorie, non-caffeinated drinks.

If your trip will take you away overnight or away from the home for a longer duration of time, you’ll want to follow the daily trip tips plus extended trip recommendations:

  • If you take a number of medications, you’ll want to take the prescription bottles with you or buy a weekly pill holder for all of your medications. If you’re packing a pill holder, take a list along with each medication listed along with the dosage size and frequency taken. If you take insulin, follow your doctor or pharmacist’s recommendations for packing.
  • If you have diabetes, pack your glucose meter along with enough test strips and lancets to last the length of time you’ll be gone. It doesn’t hurt to pack extra in case of emergency.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers to call in your wallet. Include the name and number of your primary care provider.
  • Pack snacks for use during traveling time. Packing snacks in portion sizes will help prevent the temptation to eat an entire bag.
  • Pack your glucose recovery food where it can be readily found in the event of a low blood glucose episode.

Following these tips will ensure that your vacation will be safe and stress free. For more information on healthy lifestyles contact your local MSU Extension office.

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