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Travel and Diabetes: Top 4 Tips For a Safe Trip

When you are traveling with diabetes, your first step is to plan ahead before you go. Here are some tips and resources to help you get started.

1. Find what you need to manage your body

Your travel kit should include all that you need to manage and control your diabetes. Select from the following items based on your needs and be sure to pack extra. Consider bringing your diabetes identity card and medical insurance card. Boxed or bottled prescriptions for all medications and supplies is ideal. Insulin, syringes, pump supplies and batteries are also good to have, but if you take insulin, it needs to be protected from extreme temperature changes and sunlight.

Insulin users should especially consider bringing continuous glucose monitoring device supplies, if applicable, and a glucagon emergency kit.  To treat low blood sugar, have a form of quick-acting sugar, such as hard candy or glucose tablets, on hand.  You should also have a plan B in case your insulin pump stops working. Talk to your provider about your options, such as basal insulin (long-acting or intermediate insulin) to replace your basal rate, along with taking bolus (short-acting or rapid-acting insulin) before meals.

2. Be prepared for traveling by air

If you are traveling by air, consult the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website to familiarize yourself with the screening process and what you can bring.  Put your travel kit items in a clear plastic bag and place it in your carry-on bag.  Prior to the screening process, notify the Transportation Security Officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. Be prepared to show your travel kit and declare the items.  If you use an insulin pump and/or CGM, inform the TSA officer prior to the screening process and ask to be screened by pat down.  You can be screened without disconnecting from the device.

3. Have plenty of snacks

To complement your travel kit, prepare a healthy snack kit.  Pack servings of nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain crackers, peanut butter and hummus.  Stay away from processed meats and sugar-sweetened drinks.

4. Plan ahead

Plan what to do if you’re traveling to a different time zone.  Prepare to adjust your medication time and update the time on your device.  Be prepared in case of an emergency abroad.  Choose healthy food options and stay active while traveling.

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