"To travel, hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,..." (R.L.Stevenson)
To enjoy the journey as well as the arriving, do a little forward planning
Work out a travel plan including:
- approximate injection times
- where you will be when you inject e.g. in the airport, on the plane
- where you will have snacks or meals, to know how much food you need to carry,
- how to transport your insulin (see travelling with insulin)
If you are travelling east-west or west-east across time zones, plan in advance what to do with your insulin. You will need to consider what type of insulin, what dose and approximately when you will need to inject. You may need to see your diabetes doctor or specialist nurse for advice, particularly if you take a mixed insulin. If so take your flight times, usual insulin doses and time differences when you speak to them. See Crossing Time Zones.
Border Controls & Customs
- Keep a doctors letter with you when going through customs.
- X-ray machines should not affect your diabetes equipment.
Meals when Flying
- Take plenty of carbohydrate (CHO) foods with you, be prepared for delays
- Airline meals usually have limited CHO content, airline 'diabetic meals' have even less! so don't order one unless you are taking plenty of your own CHO.
- Depending on the times of meals served use them for either snacks or meals - you may have to adjust your injection times slightly to suit.
- To be safe, wait until you see the waitress trolley before you inject. If you usually wait 15-30 minutes before eating, don't worry. It may cause a slight increase in your blood sugar, but you will lessen the risk of going hypo.
- Carry plenty of sugary foods in case you feel hypo. Some airlines do carry a Glucagen kit in the first - aid kit, however personnel are not usually trained to give it. If travelling with friends/family educate them on use of Glucagen kit and using your blood glucose & Ketone monitoring equipment.
- Check your blood sugar regularly. You may find your results will be higher than usual - probably due to sitting for long periods. If you are travelling regularly you can learn how to adjust your insulin doses depending on the times and length of your journey.
- In-flight drinks: alcohol lowers blood sugar unless the drink contains enough CHO to compensate.
- If you suffer from travel sickness take a bottle of sweet drink (lucozade, coke) with you in case you cannot eat. Consider taking along some medication if this affects you badly.