Pre-travel planning reduces the worry of traveling with a diabetic child. To keep your child safe and healthy, good preparation will make your trip safer and more enjoyable for you and your child. Whether traveling across the state to visit family or flying off to an exotic location, plan meals ahead of time and pay close attention to your child’s nutrition schedule and blood sugar levels.
Tips for Travel
- Keep a travel bag with your child’s diabetes supplies: more than enough insulin or oral medications to cover the days of your trip, a glucose meter (and extra batteries), capped lancets, and plenty of carbohydrate snacks and glucagon to prevent low blood glucose
- Bring contact information for emergencies and medication prescriptions in case they are lost.
- Make reservations for meals to avoid long waits and always carry snacks for unanticipated delays.
- Remember that heat and excitement can cause low blood glucose levels. Carry plenty of water and snacks.
It’s a good idea to call ahead to an amusement park you’re planning to visit and find out what their policies are for visitors with diabetes. Some have rules about not bringing in backpacks or your own food and drink. Other parks allow a few emergency supplies if you bring documentation of the need, such as a letter from your child’s healthcare provider.
At many amusement parks, people with diabetes can get a “special assistance pass” for themselves and family members. This allows you to bypass the long lines for the attractions.
Flying with Diabetes
These days there are very strict security regulations for how to carry diabetes supplies onto airplanes. You need to prove that syringes and lancing devices are for diabetes care, not weapons. Regulations require that you bring all diabetes medicines and supplies in original pharmacy packages with prescription labels. Lancets must be capped and you must prove that your child uses them for glucose monitoring by showing the meter with its brand name printed on it. You must also show that the brand name matches the brand name on your test strips.
Not all domestic flights offer meals anymore. Call ahead and order a diabetic meal if they have one, or if not, take your own meal on board.
If you are flying outside of the United States, it is recommended that you contact the foreign embassy of any country you are visiting to see if they have requirements for how to travel with diabetes supplies. It would also be helpful to know how to say such phrases as “I have diabetes” or “sugar or orange juice, please” in languages of the countries you’ll be visiting.
Please note that X-ray equipment won’t hurt diabetes devices or medicines. If your child has an insulin pump, you should let the screener know before your child walks through the X-ray.
Whether by car, boat or airplane, preparation is key to success before traveling. Expect the unexpected and try to stay as close to your child’s regular routine as possible. Plan ahead and have a wonderful family vacation.
Source: Joselin Diabetes Center, American Diabetes Association