By: Kristen Rider, BSN, RN, CDE
As the warmer months approach, many people have trips and vacations planned. Don’t let diabetes ruin your travel plans. Plan ahead and be prepared for any “bumps in the road”.
First, always make a checklist for packing. Whether you will be gone for a day or a month, you need to be sure and pack the necessities. The excitement of getting ready for a trip can sometimes be distracting, causing you to forget to pack certain things. The focus may be on remembering things like the camera, the hiking boots, the bathing suit, etc. Items that you use every day, like your glucometer or medications may be overlooked.
Second, be prepared for anything! Things do not always go according to plan. Have a back-up plan in case of delayed arrival times, altered meal times and medication times. Always carry snacks, whether traveling by car, plane or boat! Make sure your snacks include fast-acting carbohydrates in case of hypoglycemia. Bring a written prescription along to use for a back-up should you need to fill a prescription while you are out of town. Your glucometer, medications and snacks should be kept nearby when traveling (e.g. in your carry on, not in your checked luggage). Wear or carry a medical ID.
Third, take care of your feet. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well, especially if you will be doing a lot of walking. Don’t forget socks! Do not go barefoot. Wear shoes on the beach or on hot pavement. If you have a long drive or flight, keep your feet moving to promote good circulation. Point and flex your toes and get up and move around when you can. Inspect your feet frequently for problem areas or abnormalities such as blisters, sores, redness, discoloration.
Fourth, test your blood glucose often. When travelling, blood glucose levels may vary more than they normally do. You may have to test more often than you would at home. Various factors such as altitude, time change, and temperature may affect blood glucose levels. Try to keep blood glucose levels on target. Bring extra testing supplies if possible.
Finally, enjoy yourself! If you are planning on a relaxing vacation, don’t let diabetes get in the way. Try new foods, just keep in mind moderation. Keep your personal targets in mind at meals, but remember nobody is perfect all the time. Increase your physical activity where possible…take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the golf course instead of riding in a golf cart. This can help keep blood glucose on target. With proper planning, people with diabetes can travel safely and confidently.