Traveling with Insulin-Dependent Diabetes: Your Insulin Supplies


Can you travel, comfortably, when you have diabetes and have to take insulin? That was a question I had many years ago when I first had to start taking insulin for diabetes. I wrote about my diabetes odyssey in My Life with Diabetes, but I did not address the issue of traveling. There are two major issues associated with traveling with insulin-dependent diabetes: how to carry your insulin supplies and how to eat while you are traveling. This blog post addresses how to carry your insulin supplies.

For those of you who are diabetic and take insulin, you already know you have to plan ahead to travel with your insulin supplies. You may be wondering how you’re ever going to do it. For others, you may have figured out your plan. I like things simple. I like to be a normal person. I want to walk through the world and not think about diabetes. I also like to travel. So, I’m going to share my plan with you. Traveling with insulin-dependent diabetes does require a plan. But, it doesn’t have to be daunting.

I use insulin pens to take my insulin. They make taking insulin simple. You dial up your dose, screw on a pen needle, and stab yourself. Doesn’t hurt. Over and done with. You can take your insulin virtually anywhere. I take two types of insulin, so I carry two pens with me and enough pen needles to last several days. If I am going to be gone longer than that, more needles go in my luggage. The insulin pens will last 30 days without refrigeration.

You also have to carry your blood sugar meter, the lancet holder you use to prick your finger to test your blood sugar, and enough test strips to test your blood sugar the required number of times per day. You also may want to keep a few extra lancets with you to use to prick your finger.

We’re not finished yet! Always have something with you to eat, discreetly, if you feel your blood sugar dropping. If you’re engaging in more physical activity than usual, such as walking around and being a tourist, you may have instances where your blood sugar drops. Being out in the heat also causes many diabetics to have blood sugar lows. Keep a few lifesavers in your pocket or purse. They will get you by until you can have a meal. If it is going to be awhile before you have a meal, keep something like Nabs or some kind of cracker with you.

If you take insulin using a vial of the drug and a needle (syringe), then put those in your kit instead of the insulin pens and pen needles. They take up a little more space, but just keep your extra needles in your luggage. Most vials of insulin also last 30 days without refrigeration. If you are staying in a hotel, you can always ask for a room with a mini-refrigerator.

Now, we’re ready to put all this together. I have a very nondescript little black pouch that I use for my insulin supplies and I fill it up and stick it in my purse. Here are the contents of my insulin supply kit:

2 insulin pens, enough pen needles for three shots per day, blood glucose meter, bottle of test strips, lancet holder, a few extra lancets, a number of lifesavers

Make sure you have enough insulin to meet your needs in your insulin pens or vial and that you have enough pens or vials with you in your luggage, along with extra supplies, if you are going to be gone very long. Due to today’s travel restrictions, if I am going to be flying to my destination, I also carry a letter from my doctor explaining that I am diabetic and require insulin (and needles) for the condition. You never know what you will be asked for at airport security though I have never been questioned and no one has ever asked to see my letter.

Traveling with insulin does not have to be difficult with a little planning, but you do have to think ahead.

Stay tuned for a blog post on eating when traveling, which also can be daunting! #writing #amwriting #blogging #DiabeticConnect #dailyprompt

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