This section contains some advice and recommendations to aid you when travelling and also some handy foreign travel cards that will be of use when travelling abroad. Whether embarking on a short trip or long trip the principal remains the same - be prepared.
Make sure you have given everything some thought. If travelling abroad, consider the climate, what food will be on offer, what activities you are likely to get involved in and what accommodation is provided. Ensure that you have all the supplies you are likely to need and preferably take twice as much as you think you will require in case of delays. You may need to take certain foods with you if you think they will be unavailable where you are going.
Airport checks for diabetic equipment should not be a problem but for peace of mind take some form of proof, such as a letter you might have from the hospital confirming your attendance at the diabetes clinic - it is not unusual for airports to encounter diabetics. Leave all medications in the boxes they are supplied in. This will aid identification, prove that they came from a pharmaceutical company and that they were prescribed for you and they should also have the details of your pharmacy on them. Remember that there are likely to be millions of diabetics in the country you are visiting, so you are by no means an alien!
Blood sugar levels
When you are somewhere unusual it is important to keep a good check on your levels. Make sure meals are ready before injecting insulin and if changing time zones keep to your own watch. Be prepared for delays, tiredness and standing in queues and always have extra carbohydrate ready.
Changes in routine, excitement, extra activity and tiredness all attribute to fluctuations in blood sugar levels and could lead to potential hypo's - it may help to keep your levels nearer 10 mmol/l for a while. Make sure you do not miss snacks or meals through the excitement of the holiday. Reduce insulin doses for at least the first day or two before adjusting to suit the different climate and the activity/food balance you will be following.
Do not forget that a hypo could be delayed after a very active day - so increase your evening snack before bedtime to see you through the night.
Never attempt strenuous or unusual activity alone.
Here is a handy Travel Checklist and some DIY Emergency Travel Cards
Travel checklist -
Whilst not totally comprehensive - it might serve to remind you of some of the things to consider.
A record of all of the numbers of credit cards and documents you are taking and the contact details required to cancel or replace if lost or stolen
Accommodation - does the room you are staying in contain a fridge for your insulin?
Basic first aid items
Cool bag for insulin
Details of diabetes nurse, doctor, pharmacy - phone numbers, prescription details and medications list etc
Diabetes card, details of medication, instructions for hypo's, name/address etc
Diabetes UK membership and identity cards, emergency cards etc
Diabetic supplies: Take two of everything and keep them in separate places in case one is lost or stolen. Never lose sight of your insulin - keep it in your hand luggage. On aeroplanes do not keep insulin in the hold as it may freeze or get lost.
Extra carbohydrates - take plenty of sandwiches, biscuits, fruit and sugar-free drinks, in case of delays
Foods, such as cereals etc that may not be available where you are going
Foreign currency and travellers cheques
Form E111 to obtain a healthcare card for use in European countries (application available at the post office)
Frio wallet for insulin
Frio wristband to help keep you cool
Glucagon injection kit and instructions
Glucose tablets/sugar supply - Keep in pockets, bags & with others travelling with you
Hypostop gel or similar
Immunisations - do you need them? - Check it out!
Insulin - Always take double the supply that you predict you will need in case of delays or loss
Keep spare pens and meters in your luggage not only in case of lose or defects
Lancets for finger prick device
Meter - plus spare batteries!
Mobile phone - and charger!
Passports and driving licenses
Pen injectors or syringes
Sun tan lotion and adequate protective clothing such as hats
Test strips including Ketostrips
Travel sharp's box
Travelling tickets/ plane tickets!
DIY Emergency Cards
Useful foreign phrases and further information are available from Diabetes UK
DIY Emergency Cards -
If you are travelling abroad - you may wish to copy the following onto a credit card sized piece of paper and keep it on your person.
Ideally, have the English version on one side and the foreign language version on the other side.
You should be able to have the card encapsulated or laminated locally, or cover it yourself with clear book cover film as used by Libraries (and available in stationers).
If you have trouble - let me know and I will endeavour to make a card for you.
I am a diabetic on insulin. If I am found ill, please give me two teaspoons of sugar in a small amount of water or three of the glucose tablets which I am carrying. If I fail to recover in ten minutes, please call an ambulance.
Soy diabetico(a) y tomo insulina. Si usted me encuentra enfermo(a) temga la bondad de darme dos cucharillas de azucar en un poquito de agua o tres de los comprimidos de glucosa que llevo encima. Si no me recupero dentro de diez minutos, tenga la bondad de llamar un ambulancia.
Je suis un diabetique sur insuline. Si on me trouve malade, donnez-moi s'il vois plait, deux cuillieres a the de sucres dans un peu d'eau ou trois des comprimes de glucose que j'ai sur moi. Si au bout de dix minutes je ne reviens pas a moi, appelez une ambulance.
Ich bin Diabetiker und brauche taglich Insulin. Finden Sie mich krank, geben Sie mir bitte zwei Essloffel Zucker in Wasser aufgelost. Der Zucker befindet sich in meiner Tasche oder Handtasche. Finden Sie mich ohmachtig, rufen Sie bitte einen Artz oder einen Krankenwagen.
Sono un diabetico e sono attualmente sottoposto a trattamento con insulina. Se fossi colto da malore, per favore datemi due cucchiai di zucchero in una piccola quantita di acqua o tre delle pastiglie di glucosio che porto con me. Se non mi reprendo entro dieci minuti, per favore chiamate un ambulanza.
Jeg har sukkersyke og bruker daglig insulin. Hvis jeg blir funnet syk, vennligst gi meg to spiseskjeer sukker rorti vann. Det er sukker i min lomme eller min veske. Hvis jeg er bevisstlos eller ikke vakner, vennlist tikall lege eller sykebill.
Sou um doente Diabetico usando diairamente insulina. Se me encontrar doente deem-me faz favor duas colheres de sopa de acucar em agua. Encontrararo acucar no men bolso ou saco. Se me encontrar inconsciente sem recuperar, faz favor de chamar um medico ou uma ambulancia.
Jag ar diabetiker med dagliga insulininjektioner. Om Ni finner mig omtocknad, var snall och ge mig tva teskedar med socker, garna upplost i vatten. Det skall finnas socker i min ficka eller vaska. Om jag ar medvetslos eller ej svarar pa tilltal kallapa en doktor eller ambulans.
Ja sam dijabeticar i dnevno uzimam insulin. Ako me nadjete bolesnog, molim vas dajte mi dvije supene kasike secera rastopljenog u vodi. Secer se nalazi u mom dzepu ili torbi. Ako sam u nesvijesti i ne osvijestim ne, molim vas zovite doktora ili prvu pomoc.