Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Diabetes is no reason to stop living your life to the fullest. But it can end up being a point of concern when you have to break away from a fixed routine to travel, be it for leisure or business. If you are wondering whether you can travel with the additional baggage of diabetes, you have come to the right place!
With adequate planning and a little bit of care, you can pack your bags for a time-out. Let’s take a look at some basic pre-journey steps that you need to take before you can take off!
1. Talk to your doctor!
Consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner to know if there’s any special care you ought to take, or if you require any change or addition to your regular medication during travel. A pre-travel check-up is also advisable.
2. Get a letter from your doctor
So while you are at the doctor’s, ask them to write a note that explains your condition, the medications you take, any allergies you have, and other such relevant information. It is also advisable to get a fresh prescription for the drugs, including generic names (name of the drug as opposed to the name of the brand) if possible, that you are supposed to be taking.
3. Consult your Health Coach
If you are enrolled in a digital diabetes care programme, it would be advisable to let your Diabetes Health Coach know about the details of your travel plans, such as your destination, your duration of stay, mode of transport, etc. They can share some tips and tricks about how to stick to a suitable diet at these places without compromising on leisure.
4. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
You must do some primary research and know the basics of the place you are visiting. You don’t have to enrol in a language course, but learning a few essential phrases in the local language could come in handy. English helps you enough to be able to navigate smoothly through major tourist destinations. But if you happen to go down an off-beat route, know how to say things like no sugar, no salt, washroom directions, etc. in the local language.
5. Check drug restrictions at your destination
Permissions for drugs vary from country to country. If you are travelling abroad, check whether there are any severe drug restrictions that your destination country observes. It is best to stick to these by altering your medications by consulting your doctor.
6. Make a check-list
Planning is made efficient with a check-list, and this is true for everyone making travel plans. Once you have your plans in place, make a list to keep track of everything you need to do, need to carry, and also of everything you are carrying. This is the easiest way to not forget things, especially since you are bringing medicines, essential snacks, maybe even insulin.
7. A list of contacts
Yes, another list! But it is equally crucial. This will be a list of your contacts in the place you are visiting, including the embassy. You could also include the phone numbers of someone back home who knows about your plans and itinerary.
8. Pack extra doses of medications
Maybe even double the doses that you require, and keep them in different bags. Keep at least one whole set in the bag you shall have the closest to you, a carry-on bag or your handbag. Make sure that you have medicine access whenever you need it. So, pack accordingly.
9. Buy travel insurance
Easy to forget, but don’t! Browse for the available options and pick the best ones for you. No standard option applies to everyone.
These are the essentials that every traveller should follow, irrespective of whether they are travelling far or near, alone or with the company, for work or fun. However, consider the how-where-why of your trip and make additional arrangements to make everything go as smoothly as possible.
Travelling for Business:
If you are travelling for work, chances are you are going alone or with a bunch of colleagues. You might end up staying at a hotel, attending meetings, hopping from offices to seminars & workshops. Such a routine could leave little wiggle room for a person with diabetes. But it gets easier to take care of yourself if you plan and prepare well.
1. Set reminders for medicines
If you are going to have a busy work schedule, know about your itinerary beforehand and set appropriate reminders so that you don’t end up missing your doses. It is also advisable to set reminders for your drugs and routine snacks.
2. Let someone know
If you are travelling with companions, make sure they know about your condition. Let them know in advance about your basic requirements, medication and meal times you follow, and what needs to be done in case of emergencies. Even if you are travelling alone, let the flight attendant or a co-passenger know that you have diabetes.
3. Pack your doses accessibly
Plan your doses as per your itinerary and pack them accordingly. You don’t want your in-flight medication to be in your cargo. All necessary items should be packed such that you can easily access them whenever you need to.
We believe that you shouldn’t let your diabetes hold you back. You deserve a little vacation time, be it alone or with loved ones. Like we’ve already said, do some efficient planning before you take off. Depending on how and where you are travelling, we’ve narrowed down a few things that you should look into so that you can have a worry-free vacation.
1. Changing time-zones
- Consult your doctor about where you are travelling and how to manage your medicines, especially if you are using insulin.
- Jet lag could also affect you. Book convenient flights that will save you some hassle.
2. Flying high
- If you are travelling by air, make sure to keep all necessary things like medications, etc. in your carry-on luggage.
- Also, know what you are going to eat throughout the flight. Ask your health coach if the flight menu is good enough for you or if you need to make alterations to it.
- Keep your doctor’s letter handy.
- If you use an insulin pump, consider switching to injections for the duration of the travel. It is also advisable to disconnect your insulin pump during the flight.
3. Cruising the high seas
- It is a good idea to check the menu on offer on the ship and consult your health coach beforehand about it.
- While cruise vacations are all about living leisurely, it is essential for you to stay active. Take walks on the open deck, use the gym, or find a fun group activity to do.
- Let the cruise staff attending to you know that you have diabetes.
- Stop now and then, get out of your car, and let your legs get some proper blood circulation, especially if you are driving.
- If you are spanning your journey across days, be sure to limit your daily trip-hours under 12, and get enough sleep.
- Keep your snacks, medications, and insulin properly stored and handy.
- Avoid driving if you use insulin.
5. Taking the train
- Keep your medications handy.
- Take walks whenever you feel necessary.
- Plan your meals and carry all that you need.
Here are a few more things you should keep in mind:
- Protect your feet, especially if you are visiting a beach. Avoid going barefoot.
- Store your medications safely, at appropriate temperatures.
- Know about the pharmacies in your vicinity.
- Appropriate food, medications on time, and physical activity are your holy trinity.
Planning, preparation, and discipline are not only paramount for diabetes reversal but also help you live normally without letting your condition bother you. Now that we’ve briefed you about the basics, get planning and have a fun trip!