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Travel and diabetes

Diabetes need not stop you from having a trip that’s memorable and hassle-free. With some careful planning and by taking a few precautions, travelling with diabetes can be managed.

Read more in our fact sheet Travel and visit travelling by air if you’re planning to fly.

Why do I need to plan?

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:

  • vaccinations
  • travel insurance (accident and health cover)
  • allowing for different foods
  • how to cope with changes in time zones
  • extreme climates
  • mishaps—such as long delays and misplaced baggage

You’ll also need to consider:

Talk to your health care team about your travel plans, especially if you’re travelling by air when planning a trip overseas.

Travel planning tips
 What to doThings to know
Three months before you travelCheck Australian airline security regulations.See travelling by air for more information.
 

Take out a travel insurance policy that covers people with diabetes and special equipment.

 

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.

This is also a good time to arrange the papers you need to comply with airline regulations.

One month before you travelArrange all the paperwork needed for your trip.

Paperwork should include:

  • a letter from your doctor
  • prescriptions for all medications
  • written details of your next of kin
  • NDSS and Medicare cards.
 

Arrange all diabetes medication and testing devices required for the trip.

 

 

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These should include:

  • medication
  • insulin
  • syringes/pen needles or pump and consumables
  • lancets
  • test strips
  • meter (plus a spare if possible)
  • Glucagon and delivery devices.

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.

  • A small approved sharps container (available from your state or territory diabetes organisation or your pharmacy). Many hotels and airports offer a sharps disposal service for your used lancets and syringes.
  • Medication, test strips, insulin and syringes for the entire trip. Pack more than you think you’ll need in case of loss or damage.
  • A spare meter, if possible.
  • If you’re taking insulin or diabetes tablets, carry some form of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets or jelly beans in case of a ‘hypo’, plus some biscuits or dried fruit.
  • An insulated bag for storing your test strips.
  • Your meter’s user manual if travelling to a place that may be extremely hot or cold.
  • EXTRA PRECAUTION—Pack clearly written details of your next of kin or family member.

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 test strips from freezing or excessive heat by storing them under 30 degrees centigrade.
  • Take a small insulated bag (available to buy from your state or territory diabetes organisation).
  • When travelling by air, make sure your insulated bag is part of your carry-on luggage.

Temperature also affects the accuracy of blood glucose results. Check your meter user manual for your meter’s operational temperature range.

What if something goes wrong?

Don’t panic if you need to seek medical assistance. If possible, ask your travel insurer for advice. You can recover most costs through health benefits or your medical insurance when you get home.

Related information

Refer to Medicine and substances on the Australian Border Force website for what to keep in mind, when entering and leaving Australia.