Your Diabetes Travel Results

The information below is for guidance only. You should to contact your healthcare providers for more detailed information prior to your journey

There is no difference in time zones – take your standard dose at the normal time.

Please read over the Travel Checklist

  • Preparation for your holiday

    Here is advice on what you should do before going on holiday.
    Speak to your diabetes team at least 2 weeks before you go away.

    Also check you have appropriate insurance. Some travel insurance policies don’t cover diabetic emergencies. Your policy must include pre-existing medical conditions as well as these emergencies, so it’s a good idea to check your policy with your insurer before you go.

  • Find out about your destination

    • If you’re on insulin, check what insulin will be available in the country you’re visiting – the names and strengths of insulin can vary.
    • Check if you need to have vaccinations to go to your destination – vaccinations can temporarily affect your diabetes and you may need to adjust your medication.
    • Although English is understood in many foreign countries, learn a phrase that will get you help if you need it
  • Medical Identification

    • It’s important that you wear or carry something that says you have diabetes in case you are ill abroad or if you are questioned when passing through Customs.
    • If you take insulin, it’s advisable to declare your needles, syringes or pens and monitoring devices when passing through Customs.
    • It’s also a good idea to take a letter from your diabetes team that explains the types of insulin and the devices that you use.
  • Find out about your destination

    • If you’re on insulin, check what insulin will be available in the country you’re visiting – the names and strengths of insulin can vary.
    • Check if you need to have vaccinations to go to your destination – vaccinations can temporarily affect your diabetes and you may need to adjust your medication.
    • Although English is understood in many foreign countries, learn a phrase that will get you help if you need it
  • Journey planning

    It’s important to plan for the journey as well as for your destination. For example, think about the food that will be available to you when you’re travelling. Would you want a diabetic meal on the plane or boat or do you need to pack extra snacks? Also, because your routine is changed when you travel, it’s a good idea to test your blood more often than usual.

    • Remember to keep your testing equipment somewhere that’s easy to get to
    • If you cross time zones, keep your injections and meals to your own watch times
    • Change your watch on arrival and when you arrive back home.
    • Remember that if you travel west, the day is longer, so you may need more food and insulin/tablets. If you travel east, the day is shorter, so you may need less food and insulin/tablets.
  • Medication and food

    • Take adequate supplies of your medication for the journey, and allow for delays.
    • Also make sure you have enough carbohydrate to last if you get delayed.
    • If necessary, divide insulin up between your family or friends who are travelling with you.
    • If you’re flying, store insulin in hand luggage, as it can freeze in the hold of the plane.
    • Your diabetes team will give you in-depth advice on how to manage your medication on your journey.
  • Sun safety

    • Keep your insulin in a cool place out of direct sunlight (e.g. in a cool bag or fridge), but make sure it doesn’t freeze.
    • Monitor your blood glucose (sugar) control – a warm climate can cause blood glucose to drop and you may need less medication.
    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Don’t walk barefoot on hot sand or other surfaces.

    If you’re somewhere cold:
    Make sure you wear enough warm clothing – lots of thin layers are better than one thick layer.

    • Think about sun safety
    • Monitor your blood glucose control – a cold climate can make your blood glucose rise and you may need more medication
    • Don’t let your insulin freeze.

    Blood glucose testing meters and strips may be affected by hot and cold temperatures and altitude. Check your meter handbook for more information.

    • Insulin or tablets, needles and pens or syringes – take extra supplies
    • Identification and letter from your diabetes team explaining your need for medication
    • Blood glucose monitor, finger pricker and strips – take extra strips
    • Hypo food/glucose tablets
    • Insurance and medical documents
    • Travel sickness and diarrhoea treatments
    • A safe device for sharps disposal

Print Results & Checklist

About us

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute was founded in 1944 by Dr. William Sansum, the first physician in the United States to administer insulin to a person with diabetes. Our mission is the prevention, treatment, and cure of diabetes.

www.diabetestravel.sansumdev.org was created in August 2015 as a free online resource for the diabetes community. Before setting off, we will walk you through the travel process with diabetes considerations in mind—what to pack, letters for travel, airport security, beach day advice and more!

Authors

Dr. David Kerr MD is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Dr. Kerr has decades of experience in the field of diabetes treatment and care, previously working as a Consultant Physician at the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre in the UK. www.diabetestravel.sansumdev.org is the second online resource he has created, www.excarbs.sansumdev.org is a sister site which focuses on exercise and insulin.

Jenny Martinez is a Project Coordinator with the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute. She is a graduate of Westmont College and specializes for the Center on programs related to community behavioural change as well as diabetes and international travel.

The development of this website was supported by the Mosher Foundation.

Contact us

We are committed to supporting travellers with diabetes around the globe.

Contact us to share any questions you have, or suggestions to make the site more helpful!