Throughout this guide we have provided plenty of information on how to travel safely and keep healthy when abroad. In this section we summarise, offering some of the most important things to bear in mind for all future travels.
1. Make sure your supplies are close by
Whether it’s your insulin or your monitoring equipment, if you have diabetes you should always keep your supplies close to hand. No matter how you’re travelling, have them in a suitable place that’s in reaching distance. Pack all back-up insulin in your hand luggage too, because checked-in bags can be subjected to extreme temperatures.
2. Keep to your usual routine
If you have diabetes, travelling can throw a spanner in the works. Your schedule could be affected by anything from delays and cancellations to time zone differences. As such, try to keep to your schedule as much as possible and always have snacks with you to counter low glucose levels.
3. Have a doctor’s note
When travelling abroad it would be advised to get a doctor’s note and keep it in your possessions. This should state what medication you’re on. If you’re travelling to a country where another language is the native tongue, have the letter translated. It would be worth getting a few copies too, for the rest of your travelling party to have.
4. Don’t be shy
If you have diabetes, one of the best things you can do is let everyone know. This doesn’t mean you should be running down the road shouting at the top of your lungs. However, tell security personnel at the airport, so screeners can quickly separate your diabetes supplies and there isn’t a holdup. Likewise, on the plane, tell flight attendants of your condition and they may be able to provide further assistance.
5. Find out how your insulin will be stored
If you’re travelling by plane, you may be asked to store your medication during the flight. This is a common occurrence and nothing you should be worried about. However, it’s worth finding out before boarding, so you can suitably prepare. After the flight, you should check your insulin carefully. If any crystals have formed for instance, the insulin should be discarded. When arriving at your accommodation, make sure the insulin is then refrigerated.
6. Research the food
You’ll be eating different food abroad as to what’s your usual diet, so make sure to research the carbohydrate grams and have the correct dose of insulin. You can do this before travelling too, simply searching online to find the local cuisine and getting a rough idea of what you’ll be eating.
7. Take extra supplies
No matter how long you’re travelling for, make sure to take plenty of extra supplies (as if you were staying for twice the length of time). You should also consider a back-up pump and extra monitoring equipment.
8. Declare your diabetes
Not only should you have a doctor’s note with you when travelling (this will help explain why you have needles, syringes and tablets in your possession), but you must declare your condition to your travel insurers. This will ensure you’re fully covered for the trip. The insurer will have a comprehensive understanding of diabetes and will be better positioned to provide the right policy.
9. Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels
As has been mentioned throughout this guide, travel can have a huge impact on your blood sugar levels, whether it’s during the journey or even out and about overseas. On one hand, vigorous activity can lead to high levels. On the other, sightseeing or sitting for long periods can bring down your blood glucose. As such, you need to continually monitor your levels and keep to a dietary schedule.
10. Get hold of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
You may already have a European Health Insurance Card, but if you’re travelling to the continent it’s very worthwhile to pick one up. It’s advised to get your EHIC card on top of travel insurance, as it’ll cover pre-existing health conditions – including diabetes. As with anything, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so find out more information and obtain a card before setting off.