Due for a holiday? San Francisco, Moncton, Milan or Kelowna: wherever you choose to go, the golden rule is to plan your trip carefully—and this is especially true when you’re living with diabetes.
- Do your research. Does the destination have good access to medical care? What should you pay special mind to at mealtimes? What type of trip do you want to go on? Naturally, you won’t plan a week at the beach the same way as a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
- Talk to your doctor, especially if you’re looking at an exotic destination or a very active vacation. Your healthcare professional will be able to advise you on your meals and medication, on any changes to expect and on necessary precautions to take. If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll need a letter from your doctor to justify the equipment and diabetes medicine you’re bringing on board.
- Ask your pharmacist for a complete list of your medications (original and generic names and dosage): keep a copy for the trip and give one to a relative or a close friend. Bring double medication and supplies you think you need.
- Going abroad? In addition to the always-appreciated basic greetings, make sure to learn a few key sentences in the local language, such as “I live with diabetes” or “Could I please have a glass of orange juice”.
- Make sure you are well covered by your travel insurance to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Consider wearing a medical identification bracelet or pendant such as those by the Canadian MedicAlert Foundation.
What to bring
Here are some holiday essentials for anyone living with diabetes (all of which you should keep with you at all times):
- Blood glucose meter (with several batteries)
- Lancing device and lancets
- Control solutions
- Glucagon, sugar-filled drinks and snacks
- Disinfectant, cotton
- Insulated bag
- Urine test strips (if necessary)
- All insulin, as needed (with pens, cartridges and needles)
- Insulin pump with batteries and spare catheters (if used)
- Oral antidiabetics (if necessary)
- Dressings for blisters
As you can imagine, this list should be adapted for each individual case, hence the importance of discussing it with your doctor and pharmacist.
Our final tip for today? Do not forget to have fun: planning a trip is definitely part of the fun! It’s time to imagine yourself in the heart of Montmartre’s artist’s quarter or on the shores of a peaceful lake with your favorite book in hand… ah, it is a dream come true!
American Diabetes Association (n.d). What can I bring with me on the plane. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.org/resources/know-your-rights/what-can-i-bring-with-me-on-plane. Accessed September 23 2021.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). 21 Tips for traveling with Diabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/traveling-with-diabetes.html#:~:text=Just%20in%20case%2C%20locate%20pharmacies,plan%2C%20or%20pack%20your%20own. Accessed September 23 2021.
Diabète Québec (2018). Planning your trip. Retrieved from: https://www.diabete.qc.ca/en/understand-diabetes/practice/travels/planifier-son-voyage/. Accessed September 23 2021.
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