Travel Tips from the Clare Type 1 Diabetes Group

In May, the Type 1 Diabetes Group in Clare discussed helpful tips when you are travelling. The following is a combination of tips from the Diabetes Australia and from the American Diabetes Association.

1. Carry a letter from your doctor stating your full name, address and date of birth, that you have diabetes and then listing the medications, insulin delivery devices (syringes, insulin pens or pumps) which you use and blood glucose testing equipment you use, and stating that you must be allowed to carry these with you at all times. Tip added by group; Make several copies of this letter and stash them everywhere.

2. Customs or Security Gates. If questioned about syringes or other diabetes equipment which you are carrying, stay calm, simply state that you have diabetes and explain what the devices are. Show the person the letter from your doctor. The Federal Aviation Authority trains all security staff in what people with diabetes must be allowed to carry. There is no need to ‘declare’ your supplies on domestic or international flights as they are entirely permitted.

3. Take a spare prescription. Always take prescriptions for all medications which you need, and which you are carrying with you. This will both assist you to get more supplies if needed, and reassure security officers that the medications are your own.

4. Bring plenty, if not double, the amount of diabetes supplies that you will need. Sometimes extreme climates can damage test strips and insulin, or if you get delayed at your destination on your way home (remember the ash cloud). It’s always wise to have some spares.

5. When flying carry all your diabetes supplies in your hand luggage. It can be difficult, though not impossible, to obtain all your diabetes supplies away from home if they are lost. Best to keep them close to hand so you don’t have to waste precious time traipsing around an unknown city.

6. Replacing lost supplies. If you do find yourself in this predicament, start with a major hospital’s emergency room which should be able to supply enough to get you through. Alternatively, phone the diabetes organisation where you are and ask someone to explain how you obtain diabetes supplies in their state/country. If heading overseas, you can find out contact details for the local organisation in advance by visiting the International Diabetes Federation’s website:

7. Wear ID. Make sure you have some form of identification which says that you have diabetes such as a Medicalert bracelet, on you, especially if traveling alone.

8. No need to request ‘diabetic’ meals on planes.

9. Always pack hypo supplies & Carb snacks - especially on long flights. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant for a lemonade or extra food if you need it to treat a hypo.

10. Get Travel Insurance! It may seem like just another wad of euros which your travel agent is trying to extract from you but if only for your and your family’s peace of mind it could be the best investment you ever make. Make sure your insurance policy covers your diabetes. Some policies may exclude cover for long term medical conditions.

11. If you are travelling across time zones talk to your diabetes team about how to administer your insulin on the days that you travel and what to do once you arrive.

12. Don’t forget extra batteries for your meter.

Special considerations for amusement parks from the JDRF website.

If you are taking a child with type 1 diabetes to a major amusement park like Disney World/Land, the first thing you should do when you arrive is go to the guest relations office. Explain to the staff that your child has type 1 diabetes and must eat, check blood sugars, and/or take shots at specific times. Some of them will give you a pass that will get your family in the handicapped line for most rides, which will drastically cut the amount of time you will have to wait in lines. Bring a backpack with snacks, juices, water, and all your type 1 diabetes supplies. You may also want to pack meters and insulin pumps in waterproof bags so they don't get wet on water rides. If your child is relatively young, you can also rent a stroller for the day and stash supplies in there.
Many parents also suggest making reservations for sit-down meals at amusement park restaurants before leaving for your trip.”

A little bit of planning goes a long way towards a stress free and well earned holiday.