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TRAVEL TIPS for People With Diabetes.

Hotelsinitaly.biz:  Tips for travellers with diabetes






Diabetes shouldn't stop you from doing the things you want to do. If you want to travel, and you have diabetes, you must plan ahead carefully. There are many disaster stories such as lost luggage or encountering a hurricane. Travelling can be stressful sometimes - and stress can raise blood glucose levels. Although you can't avoid the odd surprise, preparation before you leave can help you avoid undue stress.

Consider telling your travel agent that you have diabetes and explain some of the particular needs that travelling with diabetes entails. That way, a suitable itinerary can be planned to meet your needs. A missed connection or illness can ruin the best-laid holiday plans.

Visit your doctor or diabetes educator:
It is a good idea to visit your doctor for a checkup several weeks before you leave. Show your itinerary to your health care team and work out plans for your meals and medication.

Ask for a list of your medications (including the generic names and their dosages) from your pharmacist -- particularly oral agents for diabetes and insulin. If you take insulin, record the types of insulin and whether the insulin is short, intermediate or long-acting. Photocopy the list and carry one copy with you at all times.

Illness Management Tips:
Ask your doctor or diabetes educator what to do if you get sick on your holiday. Generally, if you experience motion sickness while travelling, take carbohydrate in the form of fluids. If you are not sure how to convert carbohydrate to fluids, ask your diabetes educator. Here are some basic illness management tips:

  1. If you are able to eat follow your regular meal plan and drink one cup of sugar-free fluid per hour (e.g. water or diet pop).
  2. If you are unable to eat drink sugar containing (e.g. regular pop or tea with sugar) fluids. Try to take one carbohydrate choice per hour. See the Canadian Diabetes Associations' Good Health Eating Guide for a list of choices. In addition, drink sugar-free fluids. Try to drink one cup of fluid per hour.

If you use insulin to manage your diabetes, you should also ask your doctor or diabetes educator about Glucagon. Glucagon is an injection that is used to treat severe low blood glucose, a condition that can cause seizures or a loss of consciousness. If you are travelling to a remote spot that does not have ambulance service, it is important that your travel companion learn how to give Glucagon. See your doctor or diabetes educator if you are unfamiliar with its use.

Identification: Take identification with you that explains your condition in case you are unable to give instructions yourself. Consider getting a MedicAlertTM bracelet or necklace that states you have diabetes or obtain an information card from the Diabetes Association of your Country detailing your type of diabetes and the treatment you require.

Divide your medications and diabetes supplies and pack them in more than one place, in case you lose one of your bags. Most importantly, make sure that you have a portion of medications and supplies in your carry-on luggage. Take extra supplies and medication in case of loss, theft or accidental destruction. Also consider some of the other supplies you may need including treatment for hypoglycemia, food supplies, drinking water, walking shoes, sunblock and medication for nausea and diarrhea.

Tips for different types of travel

By Air:
Most airlines are more than happy to help with the special needs of their passengers. Airlines usually offer special meals for people with diabetes, but most often the regular airline meals can fit into your meal plan with some careful planning. Always have some appropriate snacks with you in case your flight or in-flight meal is delayed or the meal provided does not have enough carbohydrate. Be aware of time zone changes and schedule your meals and medication accordingly. If you choose to sleep while on board, use a travel alarm clock or ask the flight attendant to wake you at meal or medication time.

If you take insulin, be sure to carry it with you at all times. Manufacturers indicate that, ideally, insulin should not be exposed to x-rays during travel and that it be inspected manually whenever possible. However, the security scanners used at check-in will not normally damage your insulin or blood glucose meter. If baggage remains in the path of the x-ray for longer than normal, or if the baggage is repeatedly x-rayed, the insulin may lose potency. Insulin is affected by extreme temperatures and should never be stored in the unpressurized baggage area of the aircraft. As always, it is important to inspect your insulin before injecting each dose. If you notice anything unusual about the appearance of your insulin, or notice that your insulin needs are changing, contact your doctor.

Try to do some activity during your journey. Walk around in the terminal before boarding. Consider doing simple stretching exercises in your seat. Move your ankles in circles and raise your legs occasionally.

By Car:
Whether you are a driver or a passenger, checking your blood glucose regularly is very important. Check your blood glucose before you leave home and then again every four hours during your journey.

Stop every few hours to stretch your legs and do some physical activity. This will help improve blood circulation.

At the first sign of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia, pull over to the side of the road and take a form of fast-acting sugar such as three glucose tablets or 175 mL of fruit juice. Follow this with a longer-acting carbohydrate such as a sandwich. Do not start driving again until the symptoms have disappeared and glucose values are above 6 mmol/L. If you take insulin, avoid driving in the time between your injection and your next meal. Limit your driving to a maximum of 12 hours per day, or six hours between any two meals.

Keep your medication, meal, and snack times as regular as possible. You may not always be able to get to a restaurant on time, so bring supplies with you to treat low blood glucose (e.g. three glucose tablets or 125 mL of fruit juice or regular pop) in case of traffic jams, car trouble, or wrong directions.

By Sea:
Cruise holidays are known for all-you-can-eat buffets. With a wide array of mouth-watering foods available, it's easy to overindulge. Talk to your diabetes educator before you leave about how to fit some of these foods into your meal plan. When possible, obtain a sample menu from the cruise line so you can get an idea of the types of foods served and you can then plan your meals accordingly.

Keep active to compensate for extra food eaten. Cruise ships offer some great activities; try an aerobics class, go for a swim, or stroll the deck at sunset.
It's a good idea to make the cruise staff aware of your diabetes in case any problems arise. Have all of your medications well documented.

By Foot:
A vacation in the great outdoors can make for an excellent retreat from the pressures of everyday life, but there are a few things to consider before you go. Most importantly, there is safety in numbers - avoid going camping or hiking alone. Tell someone where you will be and when you expect to return, so you can be found in case of an emergency. Bring along a first aid kit and if you use insulin, a Glucagon1 Emergency Kit. Teach your travel companion when and how to use Glucagon. For more information about the Glucagon Emergency Kit, talk to your diabetes educator.

The key to enjoying a camping trip is to avoid things that severely alter blood glucose levels. Avoid cuts, bruises, sunburns, blisters, insect bites and contaminated food or water. Of course, make sure you eat and drink enough to meet your needs - bring extra food, water, medication and sugar. Store your food where animals and bears cannot reach it. If you are extremely active you may need to decrease your diabetes medication, so be sure to discuss this with your diabetes educator or physician.

1 Glucagon is used when a person has severe hypoglycemia and is unconscious.

Insulin must be stored properly, as it will spoil if left in temperatures that are too hot or too cold. Insulin retains its potency at room temperature for thirty days.

If you are travelling in hot temperatures, store your insulin in an insulated bag or cooled thermos. In extremely hot conditions, you can freeze water in plastic bottles and keep these in your insulated bag along with your insulin and food supplies. When melted, the water can then serve as drinking water.

If you are skiing, camping or working in a cold climate, keep your insulin close to your body or an insulated bag to keep it from freezing.

If your trip is short, you may want to keep your needles and sharps and dispose of them on your return home. For longer trips, you can purchase small containers that store or disintegrate needles and syringes.

If you use insulin pens, take a spare one with you. Also, pack some syringes as they can be used in an emergency to withdraw insulin from an insulin cartridge. Remember not to insert air into the cartridge when doing so.

While on vacation, test your blood glucose frequently. Regular testing is the only way of knowing whether or not your blood glucose levels are in their target range. It is a good idea to bring the instruction manual for your meter as well as extra batteries and test strips with you.

Blood tests can be performed under almost any conditions of travel. Carry alcohol swabs or moist towelettes to wipe your fingers prior to testing when necessary. Keep a daily record of injections, medications and test results. If you have trouble with your blood glucose levels, follow the adjustment guidelines as discussed with your doctor or diabetes educator and/or contact your doctor or diabetes educator or contact a hospital in the area for advice. Be sure to have your documented list of medications handy to help the doctor provide appropriate care.

TIME ZONE CHANGES for insulin users:
Long journeys often cross several time zones. A regular 24-hour day can be extended or shortened depending on the direction of travel. Either way, you'll have to adjust your insulin schedule accordingly. Blood glucose control can be upset by a change in time, altered activity, or disturbance of body rhythm and sleep patterns.

While travelling, keeping your blood glucose close to target levels can be a challenge. Here are some guidelines:

If you are crossing more than two time zones, you will need to prepare a meal and insulin schedule with your doctor or diabetes educator before you leave.

TIME ZONE CHANGES for people using oral agents for their diabetes:

If the time difference is less than three hours, you can move the time you take your oral agents by one to one-and-a-half hours. If the time difference is more than three hours, ask your doctor or diabetes educator for advice.

It is probably more difficult to follow your meal plan on the road than it is when you're at home, but it can be done with a little extra planning. Fortunately, a typical diabetes meal plan consists of foods that are generally available in most restaurants.

People with diabetes can fit virtually anything into their meal plan, in moderation. Managing your food intake away from home involves estimating appropriate amounts of these foods. It is a good idea to visit a registered dietitian to learn how to estimate serving sizes. It's also important to eat a balanced diet while you're away from home. Try to keep your calorie intake close to your typical level unless you are more active than usual. With the help of a dietitian, you can vary the types of food you eat. For example, you can try different sources of carbohydrate. Monitoring these changes can help you keep your meal plan on track and may help ward off potential problems.

Always have some snacks with you in case your blood glucose level drops or you're unable to eat your next scheduled meal on time. Cheese and crackers, fresh or dried fruit, granola bars and sandwiches are all healthy choices that are easy to bring along in a carry-on bag, picnic basket or cooler. Also bring some quick-acting sugar with you, such as glucose tablets or juice.


Like everyone else, people with diabetes can enjoy alcohol - again, the key is moderation. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind if your choose to drink: Keep in mind that if you plan carefully, discuss any potential risks with your doctor or diabetes educator, and monitor your blood glucose regularly, you can look forward to a fun, safe and rewarding vacation. Buon Viaggio!


Before you leave, remember to get:

Ask your doctor or health care team about:
Packing List:





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