Today is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, which falls at the start of Spring Break season. Rupal Trivedi, RD, diabetes clinician, recognizes the unique challenges those affected by diabetes face when traveling, and offers these tips* for adapting your treatment regimen to fit and accommodate any getaway.
Planning your meals will be important. Locating healthy meals on the road, or midflight can be incredibly challenging, but there are ways to work around your location. If you’re traveling by car, pack a cooler with nuts, seeds, fruits, yogurt, veggies and dip for snacks instead of other high carbohydrate options. When you stop, find restaurants that offer sandwiches with lean meat and salads. If you are flying, consider calling the airline and requesting a diabetes-friendly or vegetarian meal. Several airlines offer heart healthy or low-sodium meals as well.
Alleviate some of the planning stress by creating a travel checklist for your diabetes supplies. If you are flying with insulin, plan ahead and consider taking the following precautions:
- Carry a letter and copies of prescriptions from your doctor alerting the Transportation Security Administration about your diabetes (visit tsa.gov for more information). This will help with your airport security check and explain the need for insulin, syringes, glucose testing strips and other supplies.
- Be sure your pill and insulin bottles are properly labeled from the pharmacy
- Adjusting insulin can be confusing as you may have increased activity and cross multiple time zones. Talk to your physician and work together to plan your travel insulin regimen.
- Pack some diabetes supplies (insulin, meter, strips, and glucose tablets) in your carry on. This way, you are sure to have supplies on hand in case of lost luggage. This also gives you better temperature control.
- Mention your diabetes to a flight attendant, and let her know you may need juice or soda in case of hypoglycemia.
- You may consider disconnecting your insulin pump during takeoff and landing. Some studies show that a change in pressure may result in excess insulin being delivered. Reconnect the pump when at a cruising altitude and check for bubbles. Re-prime the pump if necessary.
- Prepare for emergencies. Because different flights may have different levels of medical kits, call the airline to find out what you can expect on your flight and pack accordingly.
From a European escape to a tropical getaway, here are a few things to keep in mind as you enjoy your vacation.
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*Copy adapted from an article in Diabetes Forecast, 2013.