Diabetes can be a hard disease to manage, especially while you’re away from home. In fact, about ten percent of diabetics have complications when they’re traveling. But with proper planning and preparation, you can feel safe about traveling with diabetes. Here are some travel tips from Hospitality Health ER in Galveston that can potentially save your life and your vacation.
Traveling with Diabetes? Here are some ways to prepare:
1) Research Doctors, ERs, and Hospitals in the Area
- It’s not easy traveling with diabetes. So, before you leave, make sure you gather information about different doctors, clinics, emergency rooms, and hospitals in all of the different areas you are traveling to. One benefit of staying in a hotel is that you can call them ahead of time for tourist-friendly medical referrals, and you can get a heads up on cultural norms. If you’re traveling abroad, you can contact the embassy for a list of credentialed medical providers who speak English.
- If you’re taking a cruise, call the customer service number and ask about what medical provisions are available onboard. Availability of IV fluids, medications, and medical airlift access is important in the event of a medical complication.
2) Be Mindful About Your Diabetes Medication
- If you’re traveling outside of the country, it’s wise to locate English-speaking pharmacies before you arrive. More importantly, put in the effort to learn about the foreign equivalents of the diabetes medications you take. This will come in handy in case you run out or lose your stash.
- Visit cdc.gov/travel to learn about different safety concerns, medications you might need to take with you, and health tips.
- Minimize questioning by security by keeping your insulin in pharmacy-labeled pill bottles and insulin vials. Having appropriately labeled medications can also help others identify your medications in the event of a diabetic episode.
3) Be Sure to Have the Following Supplies on Hand:
- A carry-on bag so that you can access your supplies while flying or in the event they lose your checked luggage.
- Diabetes-friendly snacks like nuts, fruits, and seeds in the event that you get stuck en route and don’t have access to proper foods.
- Crystals (cold) pack to keep your insulin at the ideal temperature.
- Blood glucose meter.
- Extra test strips and syringes.
- Backup infusion sets.
- Glucose tablets or gels on hand.
- Alcohol wipes to clean dirt and food residue off your finger before you prick for a glucose test. Note: sugar on your finger can enter the blood specimen and give you false results.
4) Be Wary Of:
- Drinking too much alcohol: It’s important to relax and have fun, but keep in mind that most alcoholic drinks are full of carbs and sugars. To stay on the safe side, go for a light beer or wine, and test your blood sugar frequently.
- Overheating your medication and supplies: Prolonged exposure to the sun can decrease the effectiveness of your medication, testing strips, and glucose meters.
- Under-medication or over-medication: If you’re flying on a plane, the pressure can cause your pump to deliver too much or too little medication. Ask your doctor about possible air bubbles that may throw off the dosage and what it means to reprime your pump. There’s also a possibility of an increased flow of insulin when disconnecting your pump before take off.
- Sharp objects: Watch out for glass, shells, and debris that can cut your feet. Your best bet is to wear shoes anywhere you go, including water shoes for the beach.
5) General Preparedness
- At the very least, try to learn key phrases in the local language. Phrases like, “I need a doctor,” or “I have diabetes,” may be the difference in a life or death situation.
- Check to see how your medical insurance works while you’re traveling. Does it cover emergency evacuation services? Do you need to consider traveler’s insurance?
- Consult with your doctor about a month before to gather recommendations for traveling with diabetes. For instance, if you’re traveling across time zones, you may need to increase or decrease your insulin depending on your travel plans. You can also inquire about the advantages of pumps versus injections while traveling. By being forthcoming about your plans and activities during your travels, you can ensure your doctor makes the best recommendations for you.
- Get a doctor’s letter for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to inform them of your diabetes and your need to carry supplies like insulin, syringes, test strips, and other supplies on hand.
→ If you’re visiting Galveston and need immediate medical attention for your diabetes, visit Hospitality Health ER in Galveston at 4222 Seawall Blvd.