control your diabetes when flying

Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from travelling. Many people, both with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, still travel the world with no barriers. The key is in the preparation!

Things to consider if you are travelling with diabetes

– You may want to carry diabetes ID and a doctor’s letter if you are carrying insulin or an injectable medication.
– You should be aware that a hot or cold climate may affect how your insulin and blood glucose monitor work.
– Ensure that you have the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling to a European country. The EHIC card will not however cover you for certain things like repatriation, so ensure you also get specialist diabetes travel insurance.

What to pack

– Ensure that you have your diabetes supplies in your hand luggage just in case your luggage gets lost. Split up your diabetes supplies in separate bags so if you lose any luggage you will not lose all of your supplies.
– If you are delayed when flying you may want to prepare yourself by packing extra snacks.

Flying considerations for diabetics

– Current security regulations state that you can only take 100ml or less of liquid items in your hand luggage. You may be able to get an exception for medicine with a letter from your doctor.
– Insulin that is not being used on the flight should not be packed in your hold luggage because it could be exposed to temperatures which may degrade the insulin. If you do have to place your insulin in the hold then an airtight container such as a flask in the middle of your suitcase may be a good idea.
– After your flight, examine your insulin for crystals. If you find any crystals then discard the insulin. Even if you cannot find any crystals you may want to test your blood glucose levels more frequently to ensure that your levels are normal. If your readings are abnormal then you may still want to discard the insulin because it could be damaged and therefore no longer effective.
– If you require a pump or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), it would be a good idea to contact your airline a few weeks before you fly. This is because some airlines may require you to fill in additional paperwork before you fly in order for you to be allowed to take your pump or CBM on board. If you do not contact your airline prior to travel, you may not be allowed to board the flight with either of these diabetes apparatus.
– If your insulin pump or CGM is dependent on wireless functionality, this could interfere with the plane’s communication and navigation systems. If your pump or CGM cannot function without a wireless connection, you may need to remove your CGM and pump and use an insulin pen for the journey. This would also mean that you may be required to test your glucose levels manually with a regular blood glucose meter.

How to manage your in-flight food

– It is common for airlines to provide in-flight meal times before your flight. This will enable you to plan your insulin. As well as your meal during the flight the cabin crew should be able to provide you with carbohydrates in the form of fruit, crackers and rolls.

Dealing with diabetes while abroad

– Before travelling you should seek advice from your doctor. You can also obtain information from your local tourist office or embassy.
– It is wise to get specialist medical travel insurance and you may also want to check through your policy wording to ensure you know exactly what you are covered for.

How do you deal with your diabetes when flying? Come and join in and share your tips.