Whether you are anticipating an extensive vacation this
year or are going to do a "staycation" to see the local sights, planning is required. When you have diabetes, this crucial step of planning can determine the success or failure of your trip and also can be essential to your health.
So grab a cup of coffee and let’s look at the five basic factors that help you to keep your diabetes under control during your next adventure.
Medications: You must keep your medications with you in a carry-on bag. Whether it is lost luggage, missing a connection or just forgetting to pack it, missing doses of medication can be life-threatening.
If possible, keep all your medication in the original bottle for additional identification. Have your health care provider make a list of all your medications, with both the brand name and generic name.
If you are driving and park your car to go sightseeing, remember that a closed car quickly can become an oven in the summer sun. So if you use insulin, small travel cases padded with frozen blue gel prevent wide temperature swings that can damage the fragile insulin molecule.
Glucose testing supplies: Testing strips are not interchangeable between meters, so pack enough for the complete trip. Tuck extra lancets in your testing kit and pack an extra battery for added insurance.
Most meters have built-in memory, but take your log book to record your glucose test results to track any changes that may occur and provide a back-up record.
Activity: Strive to maintain at least 30 minutes of activity every day, just like you are doing at home. It is not uncommon to be more active while on vacation because you want to see everything.
As a reward for your activity, you can savor the local cuisine and maybe taste a few delicacies that you have not had in a while.
To enhance your comfort, take walking shoes that are sensible and fit properly. A foot blister can dampen any excitement about seeing long-anticipated memorable sights.
Support: Inform your travel companions of your medical needs and ask for their help. Explain the importance of having regularly scheduled meals to prevent low glucose episodes and inform them about what to do for a hypoglycemic episode.
If they are your friends, they will do whatever they can to enhance your health. If they badger you about your medical routines and what you need to do for your health, cross them off your list and find new friends when you get home.
Nutrition: Traveling can be very challenging when you have diabetes so you must be prepared. Always have nutritional snacks readily available, whether in a carry-on bag or in a cooler on the back seat.
String cheese, fruit, nuts and hard-boiled eggs are just a few items that travel well and easily can carry you over if you miss a meal. For treatment of hypoglycemia, glucose tablets or a small tube of cake decorating gel are very portable and will provide quick-acting glucose in an emergency.
Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure this summer. By taking a few minutes of planning with five points of the star as a focus, you are on your way to making memories.
Susan Sorensen is a registered nurse who does diabetes education in the community and can be reached at