Packing your bags this holiday season? Whether it’s out of town or just down the road, whenever you leave your house, you are “traveling” with diabetes. Changes in your usual daily routine can include different food choices, changes in timing of food or medications, and more or less exercise. Planning ahead for these changes will help to minimize the possible effects on your overall blood glucose control.
The following tips can help you manage diabetes while traveling:
1) Carry emergency information with you. This includes:
- Identification that indicates you have diabetes
- An updated list of all medications and supplements you are taking. This can help keep you safe in an emergency by preventing duplication or drug interactions
- Enter your “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) contact phone numbers in your cell phone.
- Depending on your destination, prescriptions may be required to re-fill your medications or testing supplies. Take them just in case you forget to pack supplies in your luggage.
2) Remember hydration! Drink plenty of water, especially if flying. Keep alcohol intake to a minimum; and if you do drink, do so with a meal, not on an empty stomach. Some cholesterol medications and metformin can be affected by alcohol. Talk to your physician or diabetes educator if you have questions about your medications.
3) Carry snacks. Depending on the type of travel or the location of your destination, meals may not be served at your usual times or may not be provided at all. Carry healthy snacks that will not spoil in travel. Snacks can prevent low blood glucose events, can help prevent over-eating when meals become available and prevent delay in taking medications that are not supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. Click here to reference our previous post on healthy travel snacks (check “Nutrition Junction”)!
4) Be mindful of time zone changes, especially with timing of medications, like insulin. If you use an insulin pump, re-set the clock on your pump: the basal rate will run based on the rate set for the time of day, no matter where you are located. Also, the insulin on board (IOB) feature is based on the clock/time of previous bolus. If flying with an insulin pump, changes in cabin pressure may affect delivery during take-off or landing so check the User Manual or with the pump company’s customer service for details and any possible precautions. Carrying a Glucagon Emergency Kit can help treat a severe low blood glucose; just be sure to check the expiration date and make sure someone close to you knows how and when to use it. (For non-severe hypglycemia, always carry glucose tablets).
5) If you get sick, don’t delay getting medical attention. Illness can cause dramatic fluctuations in your blood glucose. Ask your healthcare provider to recommend over-the-counter medicines that can help relieve colds, heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
6) Test, test, test……..Carry your meter and testing supplies at all times to check your blood glucose (and record the results) more often, which will help detect how the hustle and bustle of the holidays affects your diabetes health.
Become familiar with these safety tips, even consider setting up a “diabetes travel case,” including this list, to make preparation for travel easier the next time. The best way to enjoy your family and to let them know that you are doing okay is to do the best you can in caring for your health, even during hectic times!