Published: 29 November, 2023 The holiday season is nearly here. And for many of us, it can feel like a race against the clock to get everything done before the year ends and the summer holidays begin. You may be going overseas or holidaying a little closer to home. Either way, holidays are exciting and something everyone looks forward to. Living with diabetes should not change that. But a little extra planning and preparation will help make your trip as safe and as enjoyable as possible. This article has useful tips and resources to help you enjoy a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday this summer. Plan ahead Planning a holiday is exciting. But it can also be stressful. To help reduce your stress levels and the impact stress can have on your blood glucose levels, talk with your health professional about your travel plans. Depending on your holiday destination you may need additional vaccinations, or extra diabetes supplies. Therefore, it is a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor well before your planned holiday. Your doctor can also provide a travel letter containing information about your diabetes, the medications you take and any other medical conditions. Your doctor can also help you prepare your sick day action plan and sick day kit. For more information about your sick day action plan, have a look at the ADEA’s list of sick day action plans by diabetes type and medication use. Taking the time now to talk with your doctor or diabetes health professional about your upcoming holiday will help you feel prepared, in control and reduce stress. Travel documents and insurance If you are travelling overseas, travel insurance is highly recommended. It will give you peace of mind knowing you are covered for any medical costs or emergencies that may happen on your trip. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions before buying any travel insurance. It is also important to check you are covered for: any pre-existing conditions (such as your diabetes) replacement of medical devices (such as an insulin pump) if damaged, lost or stolen the destinations you will visit on your holiday any high-risk activities you may do while on holiday (such as paragliding or scuba diving). Your destination and diabetes management What you need to consider for your diabetes management will depend on your holiday destination. If you are travelling overseas or interstate, you will need to consider changes in time zones, temperature and how this will impact the timing and storage of your medications and insulin. Make sure you have enough diabetes supplies to last you on your holiday and that they are in-date. You may need to check your blood glucose levels more often when travelling and when you first arrive at your destination. Therefore, you may need more diabetes supplies than normal. Have a look at our 2-minute video on tips when travelling with diabetes. Flying Travelling by plane and navigating airport security can add an extra layer of stress and anxiety for people with diabetes, especially if you take insulin or use a diabetes device. However, Diabetes Australia is about to start a project working with Australia’s airport security services to increase knowledge and awareness of their staff to help improve the experience of people living with diabetes who travel. In the meantime, there are many things you can do to help make your flight a safe and enjoyable one: Pack your diabetes supplies, including your medication, insulin, hypo and sick day action kits and extra snacks in your carry-on luggage. When on board, make sure you keep your diabetes supplies close to you so you can reach them from your seat. You do not need to order any special diabetes-friendly meals. But do ask the flight attendants to wake you for meals. Wait for your meal to arrive before taking insulin or oral medications. Try and move around the plane by walking up and down the aisles when you can. This will help with your circulation and blood glucose level. Keep your fluid intake up. Also, try to avoid drinking alcohol. Doing these two things will help you stay hydrated. For more information on travel, insulin storage, airport security and a checklist of what to pack, have a look at our travel fact sheet. Driving If you take insulin or glucose-lowering medication and plan to drive to your holiday destination, always check your blood glucose level before setting off. If your blood glucose levels are too high or too low, it can affect your ability to drive safely. Never drive if your blood glucose level is under 5mmol/L. Pack some fast-acting and longer-acting carbohydrate (carb) food and drinks with you. Examples of fast-acting carbs include: 6 or 7 jellybeans 150ml – 200ml of fruit juice or soft drink (not diet or low calorie) 2 to 4 glucose tablets. Examples of longer-acting carbs include: muesli bar a piece of fruit sandwich. For travel longer than 2 hours it is important to re-check your blood glucose levels at least every 2 hours. This is to make sure your level is still above 5mmol/L. For more information on managing blood glucose levels while driving have a look at our diabetes and driving quick guide. It also has a 7-step guide to managing a hypo while driving. Or you can also watch our diabetes and driving video. Eating out on holiday One of the best things about being on holiday is being able to eat at the local restaurants or have takeaways at the beach. Not having to cook makes a nice change from ‘real life’. But it is also easier to eat larger portions and less healthier options than you normally would. This can affect your blood glucose levels. However, doing a little research on the local restaurants ahead of time can help you find healthier options on offer. Have a look at our fact sheet for tips to making healthy food choices when eating out. Holiday drinks – how many should I be drinking? Most people like to enjoy a drink (or two) while relaxing at the beach. But it is important not to drink too much. Not only does it increase your risk of dehydration, but it also impacts your blood glucose levels and your ability to look after your diabetes. Have a look at our fact sheet on diabetes and alcohol for advice on alcohol recommendations. There are also tips to reduce hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia while drinking. Remember to pack your active wear! To help combat the holiday food and drink, try to do some physical activity while on holiday too. So, remember to pack your sneakers and swimsuit! Not only will you burn energy, but it will also help reduce any residual stress. It will also help you manage blood glucose levels too. A bike ride, a walk along the beach, or a swim in the ocean are great ways to keep active and reduce stress levels while on holiday. But make sure you look after your feet if walking more than usual and remember to wear sun protection. And finally, take a moment to reflect While on holiday make sure to take some time out to reflect on your year. Congratulate yourself on all the things you have done well. As well as all the time and effort you have put in to managing your diabetes this year. It is no easy task. You may like to start thinking about what you want to achieve and perhaps set some new goals for the year ahead. Additional helpful resources: heathdirect pharmacy search tool – locate a pharmacy near you when travelling in Australia. Smartraveller website: provides up-to-date safety information and advice on overseas travel destinations. Australian Boarder Force website: gives information on medicines and substances when coming into and leaving Australia. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website: gives information about travelling with medical devices or medical equipment.