Can I travel with diabetes?

There is no evidence to suggest that travelling with diabetes makes you any more likely to need medical attention abroad, but changes to your usual routine, diet and differences in climate can have a negative effect on your blood glucose levels.

The key to travelling with diabetes is to be prepared. Plan your trip in advance and make sure you have enough time undergo any necessary pre-travel check-ups, get relevant GP letters and order enough medication to last the duration of the trip.

As well as medical checks, you will need to consider what type of holiday you are going on. Depending on the severity of your diabetes your choice could be limited – but don’t let this dishearten you. Spend some time looking at a few destinations and whittle it down to the one that offers the most for your money. Don’t forget, once you have booked your holiday you will need to buy a travel insurance policy that is suitable for your needs and trip – but more about that on the next page…

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Managing your diabetes abroad

After all the planning, you will want nothing more than to enjoy your well-earned holiday. But there are some considerations to remember. Diets usually change on holiday, but you should make sure you are still eating a balanced diet and not skipping any meals. If your meal is likely to be delayed, take some snacks with you to keep your glucose levels stable.

If you have opted for a beach holiday, try not to go bare foot. If you do make sure you check your feet regularly for any cuts. A common side effect of diabetes is numbness in the feet and untreated cuts could lead to infection.

Whilst on holiday, insulin should be kept cool. Most hotel rooms will have a fridge, but you can buy special insulin cool bags online to take out and about with you.

Test your blood glucose regularly. Both hot and cold climates can affect your body’s ability to absorb glucose so make sure you keep a close eye on this throughout your trip.

Most importantly, make lasting memories and enjoy your time away. We have said it once, and we will say it a thousand times – having diabetes should not hinder your ability to enjoy your holiday!

Travelling with Diabetes checklist

  • If you manage your diabetes with medication or insulin and are travelling across time zones make sure you speak to your GP to see if you need to make any changes.
  • Pack extra snacks in your hand luggage, just in case you need something to eat whilst on board the aircraft. It may also be an idea to pack some snacks in your hold luggage to take on days out with you when you are away.
  • If you need to take syringes and insulin make sure you carry your diabetes ID card and a letter from your GP.
  • If you are taking a pump to continuous glucose monitor with you make sure you contact the airline beforehand, also be cautious of x-ray machines and scanners as these can stopped the equipment from working properly.
  • Diabetes shouldn’t affect any vaccinations, but it is best to check with your GP to be sure.
  • Carry half of your medication in your hand luggage and the other half in the hold. This way if one of your cases goes missing you will still have enough medication to get you by until you can get a replacement.