Travelling with Insulin Pump Therapy

This resource will provide information on the best ways to travel with an insulin pump.


Most companies offer a holiday pump - this is a spare pump to travel with, relieving the anxiety of your present pump failing while abroad. Contact the customer services department of your insulin pump company to discuss this option.

You must always remember to have spare supplies for your pump when travelling. If you are travelling across time zones, remember to change the clock on your pump to the new time, once you arrive at your destination. Don't forget to change it back when you get home!

Going to the beach 

You may wish to spend the day on the beach with your family and friends. Wearing the pump all the time might be a problem, especially if you are in and out of the water.

If you wish to remove your pump for part of the day while at the beach or waterpark for example, discuss this with your Insulin pump nurse who will be able to provide you with information to safely achieve this.

Keep the pump out of the direct sunlight. If you are sunbathing put a towel over the pump and line and keep it in the shade, where possible. If insulin becomes too hot it can stop working, which means your blood sugars will rise very quickly. FRIO bag are handy to take to the beach. These are water activated bags which will keep the insulin cool for 24 hours. Think about where you site your pump especially if you are wearing a bathing suit or bikini. In hot weather the tape on your cannula may not stick as well, especially if it is very hot and you are sweating. To help the tape stick better, you may need to put a second piece of tape over the cannula site. Cavilon cream or spray, Skin tac wipes, Opsite or Tegaderm can also be used and either bought in the chemist or obtained on prescription from your G.P. 

Drinking alcohol and your pump! 

Alcohol can be dangerous, especially when you are taking insulin. Drinking sensibly in moderation should cause you no problems. In this country, alcohol cannot be consumed or sold to people under the age of 18 years. Serious low blood sugars can occur both during and for several hours after drinking. Following some simple guidelines can prevent problems from happening. Alcohol especially spirits can cause severe hypoglycaemia, by preventing the body from releasing it's emergency supply of sugar (in the liver). This can make hypoglycaemia much more severe, difficult to treat and sometimes very scary!

  • Try not to drink too much.
  • Always have something to eat before, during and after you have had a drink. Eat longer acting carbohydrates, like toast or chips on the way home.
  • You may need to use a temporary basal decrease during the night after having several drinks. Some people say they go low between breakfast and lunch the next day, so think about having a bigger breakfast, smaller bolus or lower basal for that period.
  • Remember to let your friends know you have diabetes and wear identification. Tell them what to do if you have a hypo, especially if you have been drinking alcohol
  • Remember to stay safe. 

Going out with friends 

When you wear a pump, you may worry about telling your friends and other people about it. If you go on a date, you may worry about when and how to tell that person about your pump and diabetes. Most people are fascinated and are usually very interested in what it is and how it works. As you become more used to and confident with your pump, you will work out the best way to tell other people about it.

If you are going to a special occasion and you are worried about wearing your pump, or you are wearing clothes which makes it difficult to conceal the pump, you may wish to remove the pump and give an injection of insulin to cover you for the evening. You can reconnect the pump when you return home. Again we would advise discussing this with your insulin pump nurse who can help decide the best plan for you.

Most problems with your pump can be discussed and overcome. If you have any worries about your pump, discuss it with your diabetes team. If you use your pump well, it will give you better blood sugar control, flexibility, long lies and a more normal eating pattern. This can however only be achieved through regular blood testing and alteration to your insulin dose. Make it work for you!

Always keep some fast acting sugar in the house. This could be Lucozade or sugary Coke. This will help stop your blood sugar from dropping too low, if you are not feeling like eating.

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