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Planning Retirement Online

Travelling with Diabetes

                                August 2008   




Travelling with DiabetesOne of the real benefits of being over 50 is that for many people they are no longer tied to school holiday periods and can take advantage of the term time September and October cheap holiday deals.

With the steadily rising rates of diabetes, more and more people are finding the excitement of planning a late get-away can be spoilt by the complications of ensuring their health while away from home.

Changes in eating habits can make controlling glucose levels tricky.

The NHS is offering some updated advice on travel planning for people suffering from diabetes and other groups have also put together various fact sheets and ideas.

The main tips include:

Before you go

When you know you have a trip coming up, make an appointment to speak to your diabetes team. They can help you with a number of aspects of travel, such as:

  • Working out the timings for your medication while you're away. This is especially important if you will be taking a long haul flight and/or crossing time zones.
  • Explaining how heat, humidity, and high altitude can affect your insulin, blood glucose monitor, and test strips, and what to do if you get results you're not expecting.
  • Explaining how to adjust your dosage if needed - insulin is absorbed faster in hot climates, and more slowly in very cold climates.
  • Providing a letter that you can take with you, confirming that you need syringes and needles for a medical condition.
  • Informing you about any vaccinations that you'll need before you travel.

Things for you to do:

  • Buy good travel insurance - remember, don't just buy the cheapest as it may not cover everything you need. Check the level of cover carefully and make sure you declare your condition or you policy could be cancelled.
  • Make sure you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) - if you're travelling to a country in the European Union. You can apply for one online  or fill in a form at the Post Office.
  • Get enough medication and related supplies to last you for the whole trip. It's advisable to take around double what you would normally need - just to be on the safe side.
  • Take a diabetes ID bracelet - so that if you need medical help abroad, the health professionals will know about your condition.
  • Do some research on your destination - looking into the area and its facilities may be useful. Find out what types and strengths of insulin are available there (you may need to contact the relevant pharmaceutical company for more information).
  • Learn how to say that you are diabetic in the relevant country's language (a good phrase book should include this).
  • Always carry plenty of food in your hand luggage, including sugar-free drinks and your favourite artificial sweeteners.
  • On an aeroplane, don't take your insulin until you can see the food trolley is on its way. Meals can be unexpectedly held up at times.
  • Carry insulin in your hand luggage. If it goes into the hold of an aeroplane, it could freeze and become unusable.
  • Try keeping the clock on your mobile phone, or a spare watch, at UK time so that you can see at a glance when you would normally have something to eat.
  • If you get diarrhoea or sickness, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and continue to take your usual tablets or insulin, even if you can't keep any food down. Seek medical advice if it continues for more than 24 hours.


Many travel agents can give advice on the suitability of your journey and destination for sufferers of diabetes. Additional useful information can be found on:



Nutricentre Discount for laterlife visitors If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health realted articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.





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