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The top 5 things you should consider when travelling with T1D

December 20, 2021

This post is an excerpt from Straight to the Point, a guide for living with type 1 diabetes. Download the full version for free here.

Planning is the key to a successful trip for any traveller – but, for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), this is particularly true. So, as the world opens after a tough 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to support you as you begin to travel once again. 

Taking a few simple steps to prepare before you jump on that plane or into that van will take you a long way and help keep you healthy once you’re at your destination. You’ll also avoid any unnecessary stress!  

As with any undertaking with T1D, you already know that you have a few more things to remember than the Average Joe when planning your next holiday. To keep things simple, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things to consider while travelling with T1D. Check it out: 

Schedule a visit to your doctor or diabetes educator 

It’s important to go for a check-up several weeks before you leave for a holiday. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your itinerary with your diabetes educator and work out a plan for meals and medication, especially if you are travelling through different time zones. It’s also important to plan ahead and work out a strategy for sick days and how to adjust your insulin dose if required. 

Pack your supplies with care 

Make sure that you have your insulin, checking supplies and hypo fix in your carry-on luggage. If you use a pump, make sure you have a spare infusion set, inserter and batteries with you as well.  

No matter where you’re off to, you should take extra medication, checking supplies and hypo food with you in case of theft, loss or accidental destruction. You can get more information on packing, storing and labelling T1D supplies here

Invest in travel insurance 

All travellers are prone to infectious illnesses as they travel through new countries. You are also more likely than usual to have problems with unexpected low or high blood glucose levels. It’s very important that you can access good quality healthcare if you need it. Make sure your travel insurance covers type 1 diabetes, as not all policies do. 

Carry all necessary documentation and identification 

Just like you’d never go overseas without bringing your passport along, it’s essential to have a letter from your doctor that states you have type 1 diabetes handy. The typed letter should outline the type of insulin you take, your dosage regimen, the devices you use, the related prescription medications you take, the importance of carrying your medication/s with you, and instruction that your insulin pump (if used) must not be removed.  

You should also take identification that explains you have type 1 diabetes in case you are in a situation where you are unable to give instructions yourself. Consider getting a MedicAlert® emblem (bracelet or necklace) that indicates you have type 1 diabetes. 

Be prepared for airport security 

Airport security regulations are strict for everyone, but especially so for people with type 1 diabetes. Allow extra time to check in before your flight, in case your items need to be thoroughly searched by airport screening officers. Security scanners and metal detectors used at airports should not damage your insulin, insulin pump or blood glucose meter.  

People with a genuine medical condition are allowed to carry syringes, lancets, insulin pens, insulin pumps and insulin medication through security screening points on the condition that the items are not accessible to the public. Keep the letter from your doctor handy as you may need it to pass through Customs. 

You can find an exhaustive overview of what to do before you leave, while in transit and when you arrive at your destination in Straight to the Point: A guide for adults living with type 1 diabetes. Download it for free here

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