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Holiday Travelling with Diabetes - Things to Consider

Published in 19-07-2018 in Tips & Tricks

The holiday season is just starting and many people are thinking about their next 'getaway'.  We asked Sue Marshall, founder and editor of the online Desang Diabetes Magazine (www.desang-magazine.co.uk) who lives with Type 1 diabetes for her thoughts on what people should consider when travelling.

It’s that time of year when summer holidays are suddenly not so far off. These should be something to we look forward to, with hopes high for sustained good weather, sand between the toes, and late evenings on terraces with lovely views, or variations thereof, depending on your preferences. Not everyone likes heat, nor beaches, but generally holidays are hotly anticipated, even if your destination is somewhere cold. Or you can take a ‘staycation’, which can mean either journeying around the UK, or just enjoy your own home and locality.  That way you might avoid flights altogether, get a ferry, take the train, or even discover areas on the UK and not have to leave these shores.

But I think that for most people with diabetes there may also be a modicum of anxiety when it comes to travelling for holidays especially if you are going abroad. It’s not like the old days when flying was exclusive and glamorous.  These days it’s anything but! Travelling with diabetes means that part of your holiday planning needs to include things that non-diabetics need not consider.

 

PACKING

Ensure you have all the medications and kit that you need. Order ahead from your GP and allow extra space in your luggage in order to pack it.  Insulin must not go in the hold of a plane, as it could freeze and become inactive, so that should stay in your hand luggage.

 

GOING THROUGH SECURITY

Think ahead for this and keep important medications and kit with you at all times. Personally, I think it’s best to keep all your kit together in one place and for you to have a letter from your doctor stating you have diabetes should it be requested. It's also useful to have a spare prescription from your doctor with you detailing your medications.  Don’t be shy about pointing out that you have diabetes, or that you have diabetes kit either in a bag, with you, or about your person. The security staff only want to help everyone get through quickly and safely and – usually –they’ve seen it all before.  In the rare case that you do come across someone who does not know about diabetes or the kit needed to help control it, stay polite, stay calm and just talk them through your situation.

 

AT YOUR DESTINATION

Put your insulin in the fridge on arrival. It makes sense that you know where the local pharmacy, local doctor and nearest hospital are. You may never need to use them, but it’s good to know that you have that information to hand should you need it.  While you should be planning to have a fabulous and relaxing time, I have to also say that you might need to think about simple ‘crisis management’ about worst-case scenarios.  What would you do if your bag was snatched and you lose your blood test meter?

Last year I was on holiday in the south of France and was caught up in the series of forest fires that took place. Myself and the rest of the family were evacuated on two occasions. The first meant staying overnight (eight of us ended up in an apartment designed for five, so that involved some creative thinking). I’d remember to grab all my diabetes supplies including the insulin in the fridge, the spare blood test strips, the blood test machine charger. Returning the next day, when we were told it was safe to do so, the next slight challenge was that there was no electricity. It didn’t matter, it came on again the next day, but it did make me wonder what I would have done if I did need to charge my meter, or my phone if I was using a diabetes management app. Restaurants tend to have generators so I guess I’d be making friends with a local manager and asking to use some of their ‘juice’. The second evacuation was only for a few hours.

Last year I was on holiday in the south of France and was caught up in the series of forest fires that took place. Myself and the rest of the family were evacuated on two occasions. The first meant staying overnight (eight of us ended up in an apartment designed for five, so that involved some creative thinking). I’d remember to grab all my diabetes supplies including the insulin in the fridge, the spare blood test strips, the blood test machine charger. Returning the next day, when we were told it was safe to do so, the next slight challenge was that there was no electricity. It didn’t matter, it came on again the next day, but it did make me wonder what I would have done if I did need to charge my meter, or my phone if I was using a diabetes management app. Restaurants tend to have generators so I guess I’d be making friends with a local manager and asking to use some of their ‘juice’. The second evacuation was only for a few hours.

 

About Sue Marshall & Desang Diabetes Magazine: Desang is run by Sue Marshall who has Type 1 diabetes. Desang is simply about making living with diabetes easier. It’s not a definitive guide to all aspects of diabetes, but brings information about getting on with life while having diabetes. You can subscribe for free online at www.desang-magazine.co.uk to receive your monthly newsletter. The views and experiences expressed in this blog are those of the author and may not represent those of Medtronic.