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Diabetes shouldn’t affect your ability to travel overseas. Of course, there are things that have an effect on blood glucose levels and could impact your health – your diet, the level of activity you’ll be undertaking and the climate. But with a bit of careful planning and guidance, you can have a straightforward, stress-free trip. We’ve gathered six top tips for diabetics who want to travel overseas. Check them out:
1. Take A Doctor’s Note
Not only will a doctor’s letter be useful when navigating customs and security at airports, it will make it easier to replace medication abroad should you lose any. The note should include:
• A list of the medication you are prescribed with
• The monitoring and dispensing equipment required
• Details on the need to carry supplies in your hand luggage (if traveling by plane). This includes insulin, needles, and syringes
• Contact details for your diabetes team
Source: Travelling with Diabetes
2. Remember to Pack Glucose Monitoring Equipment in Your Hand Luggage
All diabetic medication should be clearly labeled and in its original packaging. But it’s important to remember to pack glucose monitoring equipment in your hand luggage so it’s easily accessible during a flight. Whilst you can contact airlines to request diabetic meals, it’s also worth packing extra carbohydrates for traveling, should you need them.
3. Do a Bit of Research on Your Diabetes Medications
It’s worth knowing the names of some generic brands, as well as what certain medications are called in foreign countries. Also, find out how blood glucose levels are measured in the country you’re heading to (Diabetes UK have this handy conversion chart). By arming yourself with such information, you’ll be better prepared should something bad happen.
4. Keep Your Insulin Cool
Insulin can quickly be damaged in hot climates, especially if you leave it in direct sunlight. As the Diabetes Forecast Guide says, if it’s warm enough for you to sit out in a swimsuit, it’s probably too hot for your insulin. So refrigerate when possible and take a cool pack along with you on days out.
Extreme heat will also affect both meters and test strips – so keep your devices out of the sun in a cool place too, as hot or cold test strips can result in misleading figures.
5. Take Extra Care in Colder Climates
The climate not only affects your insulin and diabetes devices, but it can change how your body functions. If you’re heading on a winter sports holiday, it’s worth remembering your body will use more energy in cold weather to keep warm – so be aware you could suffer from unexpected low glucose levels.
If your glucose levels drop dramatically, you’ll be in more danger because of the risks of hypothermia. Be diligent and monitor your glucose levels carefully – especially if you’ll be exerting lots of energy on the slopes, for example.
6. Keep Up Good Hygiene Practices
Being ill can have more severe health complications for someone with diabetes. Being sick can lead to low blood glucose and a fever can have the opposite effect. And for anyone, being unwell overseas is stressful. So it’s best to practice good hygiene levels when you’re abroad. We suggest following the following advice:
• Avoid raw or undercooked seafood
• Stay clear of food that’s been left to stand for long periods of time at room temperature
• Buy bottled water
• Ask for your drinks without any ice
Are you diabetic? Share your travel tips with us.