January 10, 2012

Tips to make traveling with diabetes easier

Over the last several years, air travel has evolved into a unique experience. Patients frequently ask me about flying with their diabetes medications and supplies.

I encourage all patients to check out the American Diabetes Association's website for travel recommendations. This is an excellent resource on how and what to pack for your trip.

pack double

For folks using multi-dose injections, my general rule is to double the expected number of supplies you will need and pack them in various locations to avoid issues with lost luggage.

For example, if you need a total of four pens for the trip, bring eight, and the appropriate amount of needles. Pack these throughout your luggage so that if you lose anything, you will have some supplies. I tend to pack the majority in my carry-on bag, and I always make sure that I have some supplies on my person.

For insulin-pump patients, the same ideology holds true. If you expect that you will need to change your infusion set twice, pack four sets and reservoirs. I always make it a point to start a new set the day I leave. Likewise, in all cases, pack extra blood testing materials.

security issues

Another point of concern is security. The Transportation Security Administration allows a person to carry all diabetes supplies and medications that they may need.

It is recommended that you notify the security personnel that you have diabetes and are carrying supplies. This will avoid any unwanted surprises as they screen your bags. From my research, TSA claims that the full-body scan and X-ray machines will not harm a pump or supplies, but many pump suppliers feel these should be avoided. If you choose to avoid any risk, simply notify security that you have concerns and would like an alternative screening. This typically includes visual inspection of the pump and a pat down. Of note, the pump companies also suggest avoidance of these machines with the continuous glucose monitors.

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