Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Want to Get Away? Traveling with Diabetes: Tips for you and your family

The winter is finally over, and you may be thinking about that summer vacation.
Going down the shore?
Or visiting family in another part of the country is in your future?

No matter where you’re going, if you or a family member has diabetes, then some planning is required to make sure that you have a safe and healthy trip.
So here are a few tips and resources to help keep hassles to a minimum. First off - Plan Ahead!

1. CHECK UP -  Consider a trip to the doctor 6-8 weeks in advance. You can talk with her or him and discuss where you are going and be able to address your medicine needs. It is also important to know that vaccines for overseas travel need to be in your system for at least two weeks in order to protect you.

2. STOCK UP  Make sure you have enough medicine and testing supplies for your trip. Sounds obvious, right?  Well, each summer there are plenty of calls to doctor’s offices with the same message: “Sorry to bother you, but I’m out of my _____, and I’m out of town.” Or out of the state. Or out of the country.  

So, schedule a time to get and pick up prescription in advance of your trip.

Pack more medicine than you will think that you need and store them in your carry-on bag in clear plastic bags.  It’s often time consuming and costly to get your prescriptions when you are away from home. Mistakes and accidents will always happen. Don’t add to it.

 3. MAKE A CHECKLIST – There is usually so much to do before you go away, it helps if you write down everything that you need to take as well as things that will help you have a good holiday. They might include sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-histamines or over the counter medicines to deal with diarrhea, GI upset or constipation. It may sound like a hassle in itself, but if you make a list then you won’t forget things. Either leaving for your trip OR on the way home.

4. GO EARLY TO AVOID BEING RUSHED At the airport – The airport can be stressful anyone. Planning on getting there early to get through lines and not have to rush can help you start your vacation out in a more relaxed way.
You can check out Transportation Security Tips. Click here for great information about traveling with insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitors (CGMs.)   Here's a fact sheet about air travel and diabetes addressing your travel rights.

5. GET HEALTH DOCUMENTS   You may want a letter from your doctor saying that you have diabetes if you are traveling with insulin. And for any of your medications, you can also take the labels stapled to the outside of the bags when you pick up you prescriptions. These have your name, and the name and dose of the medication to verify that, yes, these are your medications.

6. TAKE AND PACK COPIES   Print out and store a full list of all your medications and allergies.
Put one copy in your bag and keep another in your wallet or with your travel papers. Having it next to your ID, passport or driver’s license are good places to store it.
The idea is that if you should need this information, you want to have easy access and not go searching for it.
This also holds true for your significant other/spouse/partner and children! Having everyone’s health papers, is sometimes like taking an umbrella to prevent the rainy day!
Here's a checklist courtesy of Drexel University College of Medicine Travel Clinic

7. ON BOARD TIPSMake sure you bring some food with you, in case your meal is delayed. Wait until you see that your food is being served before you take your shot so that you won’t be stuck with an empty stomach.

8. HOMEBOUND CHECKLIST  – Heading home, pull out your checklist and pack everything up!

FOR MORE TRAVEL INFO:   Detailed information available at:  Traveling with Diabetes, from the American Diabetes Association    and from  Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes, from the JDRF

Traveling with Insulin Pumps or CGMs?  Make sure that you check with your equipment companies to see if they have recommendations to protect your equipment from damage in scanners etc… And, of course, have their customer service number handy. Just in case - here's links to common pumps and monitors to get more information:  Accu-Chek Spirit   Animas      Dexcom    MiniMed (pumps and CGM)

Going abroad and need special advice or a vaccine?  Travel Health Clinic – Call for an appointment 215.762.6655

Want to find out if there are any health issues where you are traveling? Is there a health outbreak or issue I need to know about before I travel? Are there special vaccines or medicines I'll need before travel? Traveler’s Health Site from the CDC is a great place with a ton of information!

Feel free to post additional tips in the comments and have a great trip!