Preparing People with Diabetes for Travel
As the world opens back up again, many people are excited to take advantage of travel opportunities.
- Healthcare professionals should be prepared to advise people on travelling safely with diabetes. Advice regarding insulin dosing schedules and storage, travel documentation, and glucose monitoring can help put people at ease before a trip.
- Below are a few points to consider when discussing travel with your people.
Packing the Right Equipment
- Remind people to pack all the necessary supplies needed to manage their diabetes while they travel, as well as extra for backup. This can include insulin and real-time continuous glucose monitoring (rtCGM) supplies.
- Advise that they may or may not be able to secure the same medications while away. Suggest they research local pharmacies at their destination, as well as local medical infrastructure.
- Recommend that they keep any diabetes medication and supplies with them at all times. Those travelling by air should store supplies in their carry-on.
Managing Blood Glucose While Travelling
- People who are travelling to different time zones will need to adjust their insulin dosing schedules accordingly. It may be worthwhile to suggest a new insulin regime. Or, recommend setting alarms that correspond with their existing time zone in order to stay on track.
- Make people aware of how different foods may affect their blood sugar levels while travelling. Talk to them about how to manage their diet, and recommend they build a list of diabetes-friendly foods to depend on if they are unsure.
- Encourage them to plan for rest stops throughout their trip so they can eat and take their medication on schedule. If they are driving, suggest they get out and stretch their legs every two hours to improve blood flow.1
- For people travelling overseas, documents may be needed to allow them to travel with their medication or get prescription refills in foreign countries. These documents may include:
- a letter explaining that the patient has diabetes and needs to carry medication with them,
- a list of all the medications the patient is taking, specific medication dosages, and
- the name and contact information of their primary healthcare provider in case of an emergency.
- If necessary, people should also inform airport and border security officers about their medical condition and any related technology to avoid devices being flagged.1
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requests that they tell the Security Officer they’re wearing a continuous glucose monitor and want a full-body pat-down with a visual inspection of the sensor and transmitter.2
- They should also advise the Security Officer that the sensor can’t be removed because it’s inserted under the skin.2
Checklist for Travel
- Recommend stocking up on medical supplies before the trip.
- Instruct them to keep insulin, rtCGM devices, insulin pumps, and other diabetes equipment near their person and out of hot or cold environments.3
- Suggest they research local pharmacies and medical infrastructure at their destination.
- Recommend they make a list of diabetes-friendly foods available at their travel destination.
- Offer documentation that explains their condition, any medication or devices they use, and your contact information.
- Offer advice on managing high or low temperatures (if required).
- Explain the importance of rest while travelling.
For more useful travel suggestions, direct people to The CGM Blog. Our recent article, 'Know Before You Go: Tips for Travelling with Diabetes' includes pointers on international and domestic travel, alongside considerations for creating a personal travel plan.
1 Diabetes: Travel Tips | HealthLink BC. (2022). Retrieved 17 February 2022, from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/illnesses-conditions/diabetes/diabetes-travel-tips
2 TSA & Airport Security with Dexcom G6 CGM System. (2021). Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://www.dexcom.com/dexcom-airport-and-travel-guide-flying-dexcom-cgm
3 21 Tips for Traveling With Diabetes. (2022). Retrieved 17 February 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/traveling-with-diabetes.html