So much is left up to chance when we travel by plane or train, and even when we are driving in our own cars to a destination. These simple tips can help persons with diabetes while traveling.
Medication Care – Attempt to travel with important medications, like insulin in a carry-on as checked luggage may be lost or delayed. If it is necessary to check medications, keep them at a regulated temperature as fluctuations can damage important, life-saving medications. Conditions can change rapidly in cargo areas becoming extremely hot in the summer, and freezing cold in the winter. Temperature fluctuations can be easily avoided with the use of a thermal cooler. These specialized carrying bags manage temperature regulation and keep everything in one convenient location for easy, quick access.
Stock Up – If you are traveling for a long period of time or really want to be prepared for any catastrophe, stock up on your medications and other diabetic supplies. Look past the normal 30-day prescriptions to see what you will need refills on. Speak with a pharmacist or your insurance company about a “vacation override,” which allows for extension and payment of regularly covered medications, and supplies.
Plan Ahead – If you are a patient that brings an extensive supply of medications and supplies with you, it may be unreasonable to keep everything in your carry-on. Split your supplies into two groups containing what you will absolutely need for “X” amount of days and then pack the rest in your regular luggage, preferably in a thermal cooler. Your carry-on should supply you with enough tools to make it through until your luggage is found, if it should become lost.
Labeling – Label everything. If items are still in their packaging, this will suffice and it is actually recommended. If traveling by plane, the Federal Aviation Administration suggests keeping items including syringes and insulin delivery systems (pumps) in their original packaging. However, this may make them difficult to pack, so at minimum pack them with handwritten identification of each item. If items have prescription labeling, leave that attached. This allows proper identification of all medical items for airport, train, or bus station staff. It can also be incredibly valuable in locating any lost items.
Emergency Needs – Fist-Aid travel kits are important whether you are going camping, to the Bahamas, or on a cross-country road trip. Consider keeping one that is easily accessible and carries bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and other products you may need to handle diabetic and other common injuries. Include a list of emergency contacts as well as any codes needed for test strips or devices. Additionally, it is suggested to insert it on a small slip of paper into the test strip vial. Emergency contact information can be kept in the First-Aid kit or on person in a carry-on.
Sharps Disposal – Carry a sharps disposal container with you. These safety containers come in a variety of sizes, so no matter the length of your trip, there is a size available for individual needs. Dispose of the sharps container properly after you have arrived home.
Medical paperwork – The first suggestion is to retrieve a letter from your physician, on their letterhead, stating you have diabetes and a list of the medications you are on. Also, keep copies of prescriptions. If possible, regularly get medications from a chain pharmacy. This way, if medications get lost or run out, you can easily access needed prescriptions no matter where you are in the United States. Additionally, consider bringing user manuals for blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, or glucose monitoring systems. Make sure to bring manufacturer contact information if it is not included in the user manual.
Snacks – Be prepared for the possibility of hypoglycemia. Depending on how you are traveling, snacks and beverages may readily be available, like on an airplane or train. However, if driving by car or just being prepared, keep food with you to counteract any symptoms quickly. Also, consider bringing glucose supplements with you. Never leave snacks, beverages or supplements in the overhead compartment, as they should be easily accessible at all times.
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