Travel Advice for people with Type 1 Diabetes
Travelling away from home is something all children and young people do - either with family or school. Having diabetes should not be a reason to prevent children from travelling, however there are several things to consider before you travel.
How long will you be away from home?
Most families take twice the amount of supplies that they need when they go away from home. So that's twice the amount of insulin, two of each of their pens, needles and lancets and needles and a spare blood glucose & ketone meter.
If you have an insulin pump you will still need to carry these, and your supplier may give you a spare insulin pump - make sure you contact them several weeks before you travel.
Where are you going?
If you are travelling abroad by airplane it is very important that you keep your insulin and supplies with you in your hand luggage and not into hold luggage - otherwise the insulin will freeze and no longer work. Take a copy of a travel letter with you to show to airport security to allow you to keep your supplies with you as hand luggage (see related files).
If you have an insulin pump it is important that the pump does not pass through any X-rays or body scanners as this can damage the pump (see travel letter in related files).
Is there a time difference?
If you are on multiple daily injections and you are going to a country with more than a 6 hour time difference, speak to your diabetes nurse for advice on how to adjust your long-acting insulin (e.g. lantus or levemir). If you have a pump you will need to adjust the time and date on the pump to reflect the time and date of your destination when you arrive at your destination.
Will there be hot weather?
Insulin is very sensitive to extreme temperatures, so you will need to keep your insulin stored in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. If you have access to a fridge while abroad you can store your insulin in this. Some families find cooling travel packs/bags useful (e.g. Frio). If you have an insulin pump you may have to change your cannula and insulin more frequently than usual. Hot weather can also make you absorb your insulin quicker than usual, so be more aware of hypoglycaemic episodes.
If you are travelling abroad please ensure you have appropriate medical insurance coverage, and take a copy of the "sick day rules" (Managing illness). Carrying diabetes ID would also be important when you are in a foreign country (e.g. medical aid tag/band or a card in your wallet/purse).
More information about diabetes and travelling can be found on the Diabetes UK website.