Travel and diabetes
Careful planning before travelling is very important when you have diabetes. To ensure you enjoy your travel and stay healthy, you need to think about several things before you travel.
Why do I need to plan?
Whether you are travelling by plane, train, boat, or car, within Australia or overseas, plan early to make sure you have everything ready before you go.
Whether you’re planning a road trip, taking a cruise or flying overseas, it’s likely that you’ll be changing your daily routine. To minimise risks, you need to manage your self-care during your journeys and at your destination.
Before you book your trip away, think about:
- how to cope with changes in time zones
- travel insurance for both your health and belongings
- available food choices
- mishaps—such as long delays and misplaced luggage.
You’ll also need to consider:
- a letter from your doctor
- airline regulations
- a well-timed itinerary
- in-flight needs
- being prepared for that ‘what-if’ situation
- your sick day action plan and kit.
Talk to your doctor, diabetes nurse practitioner or diabetes educator about your travel plans well ahead of your trip, especially if you’re travelling by air when planning a trip overseas.
|What to do||Things to know|
|Three months before you travel||Check Australian airline security regulations.
Check with airlines about taking liquids on the plane if you plan to use a liquid hypo treatment.
|See travelling by air for more information.|
|Take out a travel insurance policy that covers people with diabetes and your belongings. If you use an insulin pump, consider insuring it as well.||The Australian Government has arrangements with many countries to provide travellers with acute or emergency care benefits similar to Medicare. For more information on Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, visit the Department of Human Services website.|
|Two months before you travel||Make an appointment with your doctor or diabetes educator to discuss your travel plans, time zones and support hose use.
Arrange necessary vaccinations, and other ‘travel’ tablets that may be required such as those to treat diarrhoea or nausea.
|It’s important to discuss your medication/insulin adjustments, glucagon and testing for ketones during the trip.
If you use an insulin pump, CGM or Flash GM device, talk to your diabetes health professionals about managing these devices during plane travel.
This is also a good time to arrange the papers you need to comply with airline regulations.
|One month before you travel||Arrange all the paperwork needed for your trip.||Paperwork should include:
|Arrange all diabetes medication and testing devices required for the trip.||These should include:
What to pack
As well as your usual holiday packing, you’ll need to include the items below to help you manage your self-care.
- If you take insulin or diabetes tablets (that can cause hypos), carry some easily absorbed carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets or jellybeans (in case of hypo). Pack some longer-acting carbs, such as biscuits, crackers or dried fruit. Check if you need to throw this out before going through customs at your destination.
- Always carry identification, emergency contacts and consider wearing a Medic Alert bracelet or another form of medical identification. If you have a smart phone, consider using an ICE (In Case of Emergency) app. This will show your identification and emergency contact details on the home screen even when the phone is locked. Health apps are also available to store the medical information you might wish to store on your phone.
- If you use an insulin pump, you will need to know how to change the time in the pump to the local time once you arrive at your destination.
Impact of extreme temperatures
Extreme heat or cold can affect your ability to manage diabetes. To minimise problems, consider the following:
- Protect your insulin and blood glucose monitoring strips from freezing or excessive heat by storing them under 30 degrees centigrade.
- When travelling by air, store insulin in a cool pack in your carry-on luggage.
Temperature also affects the accuracy of blood glucose results. Is the meter too hot or cold? Check your meter user manual for your meter’s operational temperature range.
What if something goes wrong?
Plan carefully to reduce the risk of things going wrong. If something does go wrong, do not panic. Seek medical assistance if required, ideally with advice from your travel insurer.
If you are travelling overseas, consider registering your travel plans with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The department can then contact you or your family in the event of an emergency.
More information and support
- Go to Australian Diabetes Educators Association to download guides and sick day action plans for people with diabetes.
- Go to smartraveller for the latest information and advice to stay safe overseas.
- Go to Medicine and substances on the Australian Border Force website for what to keep in mind, when entering and leaving Australia.