Travelling with Diabetes

Posted by Michael Hood-Julien on Jul 29, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Having diabetes should not prevent a person from traveling if one takes the necessary precautions. Like any chronic illnesses, planning ahead is important to having a great time away. Health experts advise that one should prepare four to six weeks before traveling. This preparation should include: 1) diet, 2) medicines and travel vaccines, 3) travel insurance, and 4) air travel.



Whether a person is at home or abroad, it is always important to eat right and maintain a balanced diet. Of course, traveling overseas often presents opportunities to try different foods. Choose healthy options out of the foods available. There is also the option to take healthy snacks. Remember that blood glucose is measured differently in some countries. See Diabetes UK's blood glucose conversion chart.

Medicines and Travel Vaccines

A primary-care physician or diabetes specialist will have the best information on what can affect one’s condition and what precautions to take. Local weather and changing time zones, for example, can affect one’s health so it is important to ask questions about those things.

In case one becomes unwell, it is always good precaution to carry a diabetes identification card or wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace. Another smart gesture is to bring twice the quantity of medical supplies, just in case.

Travel Insurance

Many travel insurance policies exclude pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes. Still, it is important to declare all medical conditions, including diabetes, or risk having a claim being denied. 

For travel in Europe, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can entitle patients to reduced-costs and, sometimes, frees medical treatment. It is important to remember that an EHIC may not cover all the costs of treatment or flight arrangements.

Air Travel

 A letter from a primary care provider might be necessary when carrying syringes or injection devices and insulin. If one travels frequently, it might be smart to ask for one that can be used more than once. Carry all diabetes medicines in hand luggage, in case checked-in bags go missing or medicines are damaged in baggage hold.

Storing insulin in checked-in luggage may damage it under freezing temperatures. Many advice placing the insulin in an airtight container or in bubble wrap, then a towel, and pack it in the middle of a suitcase. Make sure that insulin hasn't been damaged by looking out for crystals.


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Topics: Traveler's Corner