During travel

In flight

Don't always count on the special diabetic meals in flight. Often they are forgotten or do not contain the appropriate proportions. If you take a regular meal, try to select those foods that you know will be OK. Supplement your meal with some of the extra food you have brought with you.

During flight, dry air is a problem. Try to drink plenty of liquids before boarding your flight - one glass of non-alcoholic fluid for every hour you will be in flight. Don't forget to drink during flight. Keeping hydrated can also help fight jet lag after you arrive.

Since you will be less active during your flight, your blood sugar can creep up higher than normal. Make sure you move about the cabin as much as possible as this will help use up some of the glucose and you'll arrive feeling a lot better too!

Finally, make sure you wear comfortable shoes. If you take new shoes, break them in before you leave home to avoid blisters.

Insulin storage

It is best to keep insulin cool and store between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 47°F). But, if necessary, insulin can be kept at room temperature (maximum 25°C, 77°F) in a cool, dark place for a month.

Many types of insulin are available these days in cartridges. A cartridge of insulin is inserted into a pen-like device similar to a cartridge ink pen. This device is used with disposable needles. A cartridge in use in a device, or carried as a spare, can be kept at room temperature (check with insulin manufacturer for recommended storage temperatures ) for up to one month.

Insulin should never be frozen.

Insulin must never be exposed to direct sunlight or heat.

Watch your blood sugar

Always carry your glucometer with you while travelling. When you are away from home, it is important to check your blood sugar more often than usual.

Your blood sugar level may vary more than usual because your physical activity level and your intake of carbohydrates are likely to be different when you travel. Added stress can also affect your blood sugar level.

A glucometer is useful to check your blood sugar levels frequently during long, exhausting flights, especially when you might cross multiple time zones.

Bring extra test strips for your glucometer as it is not always possible to get the same type of test strips in some countries.

Remember to keep your test strips out of direct sunlight and store at room temperature (maximum 25°C, 77°F), not in a refrigerator.

Important note: In some countries, like the United States, blood sugar is measured in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) rather than millimol per Litre (mmol/L). To convert from mmol/L to mg/dl, multiply by 18. For example, 5 mmol/L is equivalent to 90 mg/dl.

Nutrition on the road

The wonderful things about travel are the different cultures and foods that you can experience.

Travelling with diabetes can cause some challenges and concerns for many people. While away, you will find that food choices and mealtimes will probably be different from what you are used to at home.

Take note of new situations and check your blood glucose level whenever you are in doubt.

It is best to talk to your dietician about the places you will be travelling to and how to plan your meals and snacks while away.

You shouldn't usually need to take any special food from home with you when visiting other countries. But it is a good idea to always carry some extra food with you both on the plane and on day trips and excursions, just in case you run into delays.