The Essential Diabetes Travel Bag
Whether you’re traveling for 2 days or 2 weeks, your packing goal is probably the same: to pack and travel as lightly as possible. Skyrocketing baggage fees—not to mention the hassle of toting around extra luggage—can make you more inclined to leave unnecessary items behind whenever possible. However, for people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, a host of essential health-related travel items can make the goal of traveling lightly seem impossible.
From syringes and pen needles to blood glucose meters, the supplies you need to manage your health while you’re away can seem daunting.
This article offers a list of common “must-haves” for the management of diabetes during your vacation. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional to discuss any essential additions or subtractions that can keep you healthy—while lightening your load.
- Diabetes medications: Count up the number of days you plan to be away—then pack at least twice as much medication as you think you’ll need.1 Though it may seem like a lot, a host of factors (think multi-hour flight delays) can extend your trip.
If you are flying, it is important to pack your medications in your carry-on bag so that you have easy access to them, and so that there is no threat of them getting lost in checked luggage. While you’re in the air, make sure to store your bag under the seat in front of you (instead of in the overhead compartment) so that you can reach them at any point during the flight.
- Insulin and syringes/pen needles: You are allowed to take insulin, syringes/pen needles, and other equipment on airplanes (See our Airport Travel Regulations article for more information). To keep insulin from losing its strength, it should not be stored at extreme temperatures. Use an insulated travel pack to help keep your insulin cool. If you are traveling by car, don’t store insulin in the trunk or glove compartment, since these areas can become very hot.
- Healthy snacks: Because traveling can be unpredictable, you should make sure you have enough snacks on you to last until you reach your destination. Pack things that will hold up well and will provide you with carbohydrates whenever you need them (crackers and cheese, hard candy, dried fruits, nuts, and peanut butter and crackers are some examples.)
In addition to snacks, glucose tablets may be a convenient and quick way to stabilize your glucose levels between meals.
- Glucose meter: Test your blood glucose frequently during your trip (talk to your healthcare professional about creating a safe and realistic schedule). Don’t forget to pack extra batteries.
- Other medications: Besides your diabetes medications, you may also need additional medications to help make your trip more comfortable. Be sure to pack any anti-nausea medications, antibiotic ointments, pain relievers, and other medications that you might need.
- Your diabetes identification card: Ideally, wear a medical ID bracelet or neckless and make sure to pack your medical ID card, a list of prescriptions, and other pertinent medical information in the event that you become sick while traveling and require hospitalization. Before you leave, call your insurance company and make sure that you have coverage while you are away. If not, look for medical travel insurance that will cover you for the duration of your trip.
Dedicate time to packing up your essential diabetes travel bag well advance of your trip. This can help you make sure that you have all of the items you need to keep you safe and healthy, no matter how long or far you travel.