Traveling with Diabetes

It’s that time of year for vacations.  A favorite for our family is the beach.  Getting a break from the day to day of life is great for recharging, but does require some planning ahead when you have a child with diabetes.  Packing all the extra things can be nerve wracking for me, as I tend to feel like I’m forgetting something. (and at times I have, such as last summer my son went off to a non-diabetes camp as a counselor, and he got there and that night called and said “I only have one test strip left!)  So I always keep a list, so as I think of things to pack, I add it to the list.  Here’s a key list of things I have to remember to pack for children with diabetes:

  • Insulin (the obvious here)  Take more than what you think you might need.  Also, I keep a prescription for an extra bottle that I can take to any pharmacy in case something happens, such as it overheats or the bottle gets dropped.
  • Syringes, even if you are on the pump, you never know if you need them for backup
  • Pump infusion sets/reservoirs, inserter if used:  an important tip here is, you can not buy these at any pharmacy, so take double what you think you might need.
  • Extra test strips, extra meter, extra batteries for pump and meter.
  • IV prep wipes, or whatever wipes for pump infusion sets you might use.
  • Carb counting books

Again I get this feeling of “I’m forgetting something!” so let me know in the comments section what else you usually take!

Here are some of my traveling tips with kids:

  • Take plenty of snacks for lows.  Keep in mind that if you are in a hotel and a child wakes up in the middle of the night with a low, you don’t want to walk out to the car, so have something with you.
  • Have a plan for what to do for activities, such as how long to stay off a pump, how the activity affects your child’s blood sugar, what supplies to carry in a bag with you for activities, what to do at the beach, such as put the pump in a ziplock bag so as not to get sand in it, etc.  Some of these need to be discussed with your doctor ahead of time.
  • Things to discuss with doctor: 
    • What to do when the pump is off for an extended time, such as at the beach.  We check our blood sugars every hour and then reconnect and bolus a correction if needed.
    • How to adjust insulin for extra activities, how to adjust insulin if something happens to the pump and you have to go back to shots, whether your child needs extra insulin such as a temporary basal rate in the car if you are traveling for 8 hours or so (we usually put ours at 110% or so since they aren’t getting any activity and there blood sugar tends to go up)
    • what to do for emergencies
  • If you are traveling by plane, get a note from the doctor saying your child has diabetes and has to carry syringes, lancets, insulin, snack, etc on board the plane.
  • If you are traveling by plane and checking bags, don’t put all the supplies into one bag, divide them up in case a bag gets lost.  And have plenty of supplies in a carry-on.  I know someone who went overseas and had all their supplies in a backpack, and it was stolen!  It was a mess getting supplies and insulin overseas.

These are just some tips off the top of my head.  If you think of others, please feel free to add them to the comments for others.  I do have that “I forgot something” feeling!
Enjoy your summers!

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About Sylvia White

Sylvia is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in diabetes and weight loss. She is the mom of 3 children, 2 of which have Type 1 Diabetes.
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