Things to Consider When Traveling with Diabetes
Traveling with my diabetes was a little daunting once I sat down to think about it. I had done plenty of traveling before without giving it a second thought but suddenly felt pretty nervous with so much control and attention toward it.
We all know traveling internationally is stressful, there are so many thing you must consider. Being a type 1 diabetic adds a whole new level of considerations and preparations that many don’t realize.
Lucky for me (I am a pretty fortunate gal) I had a great network of doctors, friends, and resources to help me plan beforehand and go into my trip to Iceland feeling confident and prepared.
Something we don’t think of in day to day maintenance is pump failure. Most companies offer a “loaner pump” service where you can take a borrowed pump with you overseas. Unfortunately Animus, the insulin pump I use, is stopping sales in North America and discontinued this option.
Sick Day Plan
My doctor helped me create a “sick day plan” or backup plan in case my pump failed, forcing me to go back to injections. I haven’t used syringes for administering insulin in 13 years! We came up with conversions for the basal insulin, Lantus, I would be bringing which took away a lot of anxiety.
As we all know, our medical system has many flaws leaving people with pre-existing conditions feeling like crimminals or beggars. How was I going to get my hands on some affordable, emergency insulin? My fellow T1D and friend Celia who had just returned from a trip to Mexico offered to share her travel insulin with me.
I told my boyfriend I had to go pick up some insulin from a friend, and he thought I was nuts, not knowing the ins and outs of insulin, supplies, and never having met Celia. It became a comical interaction of pretending Celia was my drug dealer, selling under-the-table-goods. She gave me SO much insulin to use if my pump were to fail while in Iceland for a much friendlier price than the pharmacy would have.
I also picked up me some great travel food and exercise hacks (plane squats anyone?) from these two that were life savers. Chia seeds travel well and can be a filling meal if the only option is a carb heavy meal.
I sometimes eat Tahoe Trail Bars when my blood sugar goes low (in bed and hiking actually) because I know they have a balance of protein and carbs that I need. And they taste great. If I know my blood sugar isn’t quite low but could be heading that way I’ll keep one accessible to take bites as maintenance.
Enthusiastic Support System
Once over there, my travel buddies were so patient, interested and involved, commending me for the care and detail I was taking when it came to my diabetes. As diabetics, we all know how much brain space managing our health takes that nobody else can relate to. My girlfriends quickly saw this and became empathetic to the care I was taking for myself.
We turned testing my sugars into a game of placing bets on my blood sugar levels for the rest of the trip, took many snack and chat breaks while touring, and ate amazing meals the whole trip.
There simply are somethings you cannot plan for though. I got a minor cold that made my body insulin resistant for two days. Two days of 300’s made me super cranky and not a great travel buddy, but we were able to communicate and get through it with minor hardships.
To Be Continued
Personally, I feel pretty great with how the trip went, how I felt, and the numbers I saw. I definitely could have brought twice as many site changes and test strips to ease my mind of running out.
Guess I’ll have to book another international trip soon to see improvements ☺️👊🏽
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