Traveling with Insulin

Travel Tips for People with Diabetes

Getting ready to travel can be a tricky task for anyone, and as someone with diabetes, you have a few extra items on your to-do list before leaving. If you take insulin (as everyone with type 1 diabetes does and as some people with type 2 diabetes), you need to take some precautions for travelling with it.

This article focuses on keeping insulin cold while travelling.

If you take an insulin analog, the vial should be kept cold while travelling. Some of the insulins can stand being at room temperature for 18 to 72 hours, but then the vial is wasted.

Most pharmacies carry insulated jackets that store your supplies for a few days. Unless you are flying, you don't need a special container and you don't have to have a refrigerator.

But you will have to stop each day for ice—keep that in mind when you're planning your trip.

Camping with Insulin
You can even go camping and keep your insulin ready to go if you prepare correctly.

You will need to invest in a quality insulated wide-neck thermos bottle with at least a one quart or liter capacity (for one vial, larger if more than one) and 18 to 24 hour cooking/heating duration. Getting a small necked thermos will make it difficult to fill with ice when traveling since crushed ice is not always available.

Buy quality plastic sealable sandwich bags, preferably ones you do not have to fidget with to make sure they are sealed tightly.

Put the vial and box into the bag. Use one bag for each vial. It will be easier to retrieve. Using the box adds another layer of protection and avoids the vial being in close contact with the ice and freezing (insulin shouldn't be in an extreme temperature—either hot or cold).

Drop the vial into one of the corners of the plastic bag and wrap the rest of the plastic around it, to make sure it is insulated.

Put some ice in the bottom of the thermos about one-fourth of the way up. Drop the wrapped insulin in and cover with ice.

If you have more than one vial then cover the first vial, add the next one, and fill to the top with ice. While shaved or crushed ice is the easiest to use, it will melt faster. Try whichever ice you like to see what works best in your insulated thermos.

Plan Ahead for Travelling with Insulin
With a little preparation, travelling with insulin is easy and will allow you to take good care of your diabetes while you're on the road.

First published on: April 20, 2011