The summer is a popular time to go on a trip. People who have diabetes can travel exactly the same way as people who doesn’t have diabetes, but there are some important things to keep in mind.
Going on a road trip this summer? Great idea! Don’t let time fly by without checking your blood sugars. Remember your blood sugar needs to be at least a 5.0 mmol/L to drive. If your blood sugar is between 4-5 mmol/L eat a carbohydrate snack before driving. Every 4 hours make sure to check your blood sugar and stretch your legs. If you get a low blood sugar while driving you need to pull over to the side of the road right away, have 15 g of fast acting carbohydrates (3/4 cup of juice or regular pop, or 1 tablespoon of honey or 4 dex tabs). Wait 15 minutes, check your blood sugar and once it is a 4 or higher either eat your meal, or if your next meal is more than 1 hour away have a carbohydrate and protein snack. Do not drive until at least 40 minutes after successful treatment of hypoglycemia, and until your blood sugar level has increased to at least 5.0 mmol/L.
Going on a cruise? Be careful of all you can eat buffets, they can lead to very high blood sugars. Try to be active on the ship, swim, walk around the deck or go to the gym each day. Take extra medications in case you run out and are not able to get more.
Flying somewhere? Many airlines have diabetic meals offered but the regular meals can be appropriate as well. Always carry a form of fast acting carbohydrates in case you experience a low blood sugar. Bring snacks in case your flight gets delayed. Be aware of time zone changes when scheduling your meals and medications. Always carry your medications in your carry on bags and never check them.
In general, visit your doctor 4 weeks before your trip for a check up and to discuss your travel plans. Request a medical letter explaining your diabetes and diabetes supplies. Ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin if you are changing time zones during your travels. Also, find out if you need any vaccines. For patients on insulin pumps, be sure to bring along extra insulin pens and needles with you while travelling in case of a pump failure while away.
Ask your pharmacist for a printout of all your medications. If you take insulin make sure that your printout states the type and kind of insulin you take. Carry this with you at all times during your trip.