Traveling With Type 1 Diabetes

February 20,2020 |

Traveling With Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that requires constant management and care. It occurs when a person’s pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, which makes them dependant on insulin medication. Often times, this makes daily life more challenging than for those who don’t have an autoimmune illness like type 1 diabetes. However, just because you have type 1 diabetes, doesn’t mean you should hold back and not enjoy life. As long as you’re taking care of yourself, you can do the same things as people without type 1 diabetes. This includes traveling. Traveling is a great experience that allows you to see the world, gain insight on new cultures, and visit family that lives in different parts of the United States, or the world. To help make sure you’re prepared for your trip, here is everything you need to know about traveling with type 1 diabetes.

  1. Meet with Your Doctor

    Make an appointment to see your doctor at least a few weeks before you leave for your trip, especially if it’s your first time traveling in a while—or at all. Talk to your doctor about your concerns, travel plans, and how to manage your type 1 diabetes while you’re away. It’s always better to be over-prepared, so don’t feel like you need to be conservative with your questions. Ask as many questions as it takes for you to feel comfortable with leaving. Once you start traveling more, you’ll know what to expect and won’t need to continue to meet with your doctor before leaving. If you’re going to be gone for a long time, or are going somewhere that’s a little more isolated, make a plan as to what you should do in medical emergencies.3 Talking to someone that knows your type 1 diabetes history is the best way to plan for your trip.

    If you’re going to be flying, get a doctor’s letter while you’re at your appointment. The letter basically says that you have type 1 diabetes and that you need to have all of your medical supplies on you at all times.2 This way, you’ll avoid any hassle at the airport. Similarly, you should carry a full list of medications that you’re traveling with and taking regularly. This way, if you need to get a refill, it’s easy to communicate your brand and bottle to doctors that aren’t familiar with your history. 


  2. Over-Pack

    As a general rule of thumb, go ahead and pack what you think you’ll need… then double it. Actually, triple it. You can never be too sure when you’re traveling and it’s always better to have what you need on you than need to search it out in a foreign town or pharmacy. Pack extra insulin, test strips, needles, lancets, glucose tablets, glucagon, and any monitors that you’ll need. If you think you’ll need anything else, or if you just want to have a stronger peace of mind, pack it too. Like we said, it’s always better to have more than not have enough. Consider stocking up on glucagon emergency kits for serious situations.

    With that being said, don’t put any of your type 1 diabetes supplies in your checked baggage. The luggage area of the plane that holds checked baggage often reaches freezing temperatures that can disrupt the medicinal properties of insulin. Plus, if your bags get lost, you’ll be without the type 1 diabetes supplies that you need. Instead, pack everything in your hand luggage.


  3. Bring Snacks

    To make sure that you’re prepared in the case of an emergency, pack some snacks that you know help control your blood sugar. Don’t expect to be able to find what you like in new places, especially if you’re going somewhere abroad. Similarly, try to avoid too many snacks on the airplane as they’re usually packed with excess sugar, salt, and carry little to no nutritional value. 


  4. Give Yourself Extra Time

    Even with a doctor’s note for your insulin, you should expect airport security to take a little extra time. They’ll still need to inspect your liquids and many of them will have questions regarding the amount you’re bringing. To get things off to a good start, let them know about it before you get in the middle of the security process. TSA agents will know what to do. Just have your doctor’s note and medication list on hand for verification if needed.

    You should also avoid putting your glucose monitoring device through an X-ray and get it hand inspected instead.1 Both of these things will take extra time, so make sure to allow for it in your schedule. Get to the airport earlier than usual and if things go smoothly, plan to hang out a restaurant or simply relax at your gate. Airport anxiety is not a fun way to start your trip and missing your flight is a sure-fire way to ruin it.


  5. Test Your Blood Sugar More Often

Prepare to take insulin doses that are different from what you take at home. Your body is going to be fluctuating from how it behaves during your everyday life, so you’ll need to test your blood sugar more often. For instance, if you’re going somewhere where you’re going to be swimming, hiking, or dancing, the extra exercise will have an impact on your blood sugar. To make sure that you stay healthy, test your blood sugar and adjust your insulin as needed. The same can be said when it comes to flying. Flying for prolonged periods of time has an affect on blood glucose levels, so be prepared to make adjustments throughout your flight. 

Overseas Travel Tips

Traveling overseas is a bit different. The journey is longer, language barriers make things difficult, and unknown cities and customs create more stress than traveling in the United States. Take the same tips and precautions as you would when traveling domestically, in addition to the following.

First and foremost, you need to be prepared for anything when you’re abroad. Depending on where you’re going, you might not have access to the same medications as you do in the States. Regardless of where you’re traveling, make sure and have a medical ID bracelet or necklace on so that others know you have diabetes in case of an emergency.1 These types of identifiers tend to be globally recognized so you’ll be properly taken care of in an emergency.

Similarly, you’ll need to double-check your insurance coverage. Many providers don’t provide out-of-country coverage, which can be problematic if you’re traveling with type 1 diabetes. Talk to your insurance provider and if you’re not covered, invest in good travel insurance for the duration of your trip.

Finally, research the language and customs of the country you’re traveling to. Try to learn a few key words—especially those pertaining to potential medical emergencies and insulin.

Err on the Side of Caution

When you get to your destination, check your blood sugar as the time change will have an effect on your body.1 Once you’re out and about, always err on the side of caution when trying new foods or drinks. Try to avoid under-cooked foods, as food poisoning is very tough on people with type 1 diabetes.1 Try to ask how things are prepared or what’s in them so you know what to expect in terms of blood sugar changes. Always have insulin handy in case of sudden spikes or dips in blood sugar.


Having type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to cause a disruption to your life. You can still travel, and enjoy your trip, with type 1 diabetes. As long as you take a few extra precautions, you’ll be able to do most things that people without diabetes do. One way to be cautious is making sure you have control over your type 1 diabetes and are living a healthy life. Using the Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program can help you achieve this. This program combines exceptional customer service with top-of-the line brand name products to make sure that your needs are covered while reducing out of pocket expenses. The Caring Touch At Home Program combines convenience, affordability, and choice to deliver extensive service and support to everyone living with diabetes. 

If you or someone you love is living with Type 1 diabetes, it’s important to get the treatment and care that you need. That’s why Byram Healthcare has a Diabetes Center of Excellence—a one source, total solution for diabetes care. We carry a full line of products including testing supplies, continuous glucose monitors, test strips, lancets, insulin pumps, and more. Paired with clinical and educational resources, Byram Healthcare is here to give you all of the support you need. Browse our available selection, find resources, and learn more about our Caring Touch At Home Program. 





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