September 10th, 2013

Travelling with Diabetes

Living with diabetes can often make day-to-day living complicated, let alone vacationing. But travelling with diabetes shouldn’t make you feel you’re limited to weekend trips near your home. With a little advanced planning, you can still enjoy exciting trips to exotic locations with very little worry.

Simple steps to prepare

There are some simple steps to follow to make sure your holiday is as stress-free as possible.

1) Visit your doctor—Before you travel, you want to make sure you’re in the best health possible, and that your diabetes is under control.

2) Get a thorough list from your doctor—Obtain a list of your medications, including their generic names and dosages. Also, the Canadian Diabetes Association* recommends you record the types of insulin you take (if you take insulin) along with whether it is rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate or long-acting. Make sure you keep this record with you on your travels at all times. If necessary, also ask for a medical note stating that you are allowed to carry medicines or supplies. Travelling with syringes and needles can present a problem when entering some countries.

3) Visit a London Drugs Diabetes Educator—A Certified London Drugs Diabetes Educator can help you assess your medication, plan out meals, and develop strategies to help you deal with travelling across different time zones.

4) Visit a London Drugs Travel & Immunization Clinic—Make arrangement for any vaccinations you may need with our Travel Clinic. Do this at least six weeks before you travel so you have time to deal with any possible side effects.


What if you’re ill on vacation?

A common ailment for travellers is motion sickness. If you experience this, you’ll need to take carbohydrates in the form of fluids. If you’re unsure how to convert carbohydrates to fluids, your London Drugs diabetes educator can help.

Here are some other tips from the Canadian Diabetes Association on dealing with illness while travelling:

  • Test your blood glucose levels every two to four hours;
  • Continue to take your diabetes medication;
  • Drink plenty of extra sugar-free fluids or water; try to avoid coffee, tea and colas as they contain caffeine, which may cause you to lose more fluids.
  • Replace solid food with fluids that contain glucose, if you can’t eat according to your usual meal plan;
  • Try to consume 15 grams of carbohydrate every hour;
    • Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if you vomit and/or have had diarrhea two times or more in four hours;
  • If you are on insulin, be sure to continue taking it while you are sick. Check with your healthcare team regarding guidelines for insulin adjustment during illness.
  • Rest.

Some further tips for diabetic travellers

  • Be sure that your medications and equipment are in a separate travel bag.
  • Pack extra medications and syringes, blood glucose testing strips and lancets, and an extra monitor in case of a breakdown, extra batteries for the monitor, snacks, and glucose tablets.
  • Keep extra insulin (vials or cartridges) and other medications that need refrigeration in the box they came in and put in an insulated container with an ice pack. Make sure the glass does not rest against the ice pack, as it may freeze.
  • Protect glucose strips from heat and moisture.
  • Keep healthy snacks handy in case meals are delayed or appropriate foods aren’t available.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly. Differences in your daily routine can affect blood sugar levels.
  • Be prepared to treat hypoglycemia.
  • Wear medical identification jewellery.
  • Well before your departure, check on airline security measures regarding travelling with lancets and syringes.

London Drugs Fan

* Canadian Diabetes Association website:

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