Diabetes-Friendly Vacation

New foods, different time zones, changing weather, and navigating airport security can feel overwhelming when traveling as a diabetic. By planning ahead and taking a few additional precautions, people with diabetes can travel stress-free. From medication management to sufficient travel snacks, blood sugar can stay well controlled, whether on the road or in the air.


Before you go

Heading into a vacation in optimal health is ideal for most people, but a pre-travel clearance is essential for diabetics. A quick check-in with the doctor can ensure that blood sugar levels are within the normal range and that sufficient refills exist for any insulin prescriptions or diabetes supplies. A doctor or pharmacist can also advise on proper insulin storage if traveling to a hot climate. Learning how to adjust daily insulin doses to a new time zone is another factor worth investigating before taking off somewhere new.

On the road

To ensure diabetic medications stay safe on a road trip, pack smart. Bring twice the amount of medication expected to be needed, accounting for delays. Pack insulin and other temperature-sensitive meds with a cool gel pack in an insulated bag. Do not place directly on the meds or use a special FRIO cooling case. Skip the ice packs, as freezing can damage insulin. Keep medications out of direct sunlight and avoid leaving the medication pack in a hot car on stops.

Healthy food is available

Remember that eating healthy food on the go is possible. Diabetics should plan ahead and bring personal snacks or meals from home if appropriate. If eating on the go, search the menu for a low-fat option that contains limited carbohydrates and no added sugar. Lean proteins and vegetables are essential. Don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant to make a modification to ensure the dish is diabetes-friendly.

Stay cool

High temperatures can affect how the body uses insulin, so more frequent blood sugar monitoring may be necessary, along with modifying the daily insulin dose. Heat can also damage diabetes equipment, such as test strips, so store essential medical supplies in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Keep moving

Exercise on vacation isn’t typically at the top of most people’s priority list, but for diabetics, daily movement is important. Whether taking a hike, hitting up the hotel gym, or going for an evening swim at the pool, maintaining the same level of physical activity as usual is essential. While in transit, diabetics should also take frequent breaks to get up and stretch the legs to prevent blood clots. A walk up and down the plane or train is essential to stay healthy.

Travel smarter

Going on vacation with diabetes is possible. Prepare ahead of time for a smooth trip on the plane, by car, bus, or train. If any problems are encountered, remember that local pharmacies can always help refill prescriptions and replace equipment. Even with a diagnosis of diabetes, living life to the fullest and making memories while traveling is possible.