Travel is good for the soul. There is no need to fear taking a break to see the world with an insulin pump. With planning and preparation, travel can be thoroughly enjoyed without stress. Know that all Diabetes-related supplies, equipment and medication are allowed when traveling. Take your insulin pump on vacation! First, follow these tips to be travel-ready as you are preparing go on a new adventures.
- Pack Extra Supplies
Use this list as a guideline of important items to take on a trip.
- Extra Insulin with a Current Prescription
- Insulin Pump Reservoirs
- Insulin Pump Infusion Sets
- AAA Batteries
- Test Strips and Lancets
- Medical ID
- Document with Current Pump Settings
- Tapes and Adhesives
- Test Strips and Lancets
- Take Time to Plan Meals
Become familiar with foods available on the trip to be aware of carbohydrate amounts. Keep food and glucose within easy reach. Avoid packing these items in checked luggage or overhead bins. Pay attention to hydration status. Carry water at all times and drink more fluids when active and visiting warmer climates.
- Be prepared for TSA/Airport Security
Never send an insulin pump through an ex-ray machine or body scanner as it may damage the pump. Explain to the TSA agent that you are wearing a medical device before walking into a body scanner. TSA may recommend to remove the insulin pump before the scan and swab the device. Also, try to wear socks to protect feet if asked to remove shoes. Travelers with further inquires may also request a Passenger Support specialist ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline at 1-855-787-2227.
- Maintain Climate Control
Store supplies in insulated cool packs. Avoid putting insulin directly on ice or gel pack. Keep insulin and equipment out of direct sunlight or in a hot car. Be sure to keep all supplies stored in carryon luggage so it is not exposed to extreme temperatures on an aircraft. Note that higher altitudes and warmer temperatures may increase or decrease insulin requirements.
- Change the Time on your Insulin Pump
As you travel through different time zones, devices may not automatically change time. Be sure to take note of varied carb ratios and how they are effected through the time change. Reach out to your healthcare provider for advice on which settings and time adjustments will be best for the trip.
- Have Documentation Ready
Request emergency prescriptions for all medications/supplies. Ask a health care provider about taking antibiotics and other over-the-counter remedies for travel induced indigestion, illness or injury. A “Doctor’s Note” may not be needed, but it may offer piece of mind. Keep a list of phone numbers for medical personnel from home as well as locations of hospitals and doctors at the travel destination.
- Test, Test, Test
Check blood glucose more often. Review the travel itinerary and pencil in mealtimes and blood glucose check points. Heat and excitement are just two factors that can significantly affect blood sugar levels. By checking blood glucose more often, you will be able to anticipate and avoid problems.
- Travel with No Regrets
With or without an Insulin pump, travel can be stressful. Take time to breathe. Do not be afraid to take a “time-out” to test, check or take care of your needs. Vacation is a welcome retreat from our everyday world. Reduce stress by consulting with your healthcare provider to ask questions before leaving. Use the time away to unwind and arrive home with peace of mind and a full heart.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain