Diabetes and Travel: Preplanning is essential
As COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in many parts of the country, restrictions on travel may ease up in the coming months. Although we should remain vigil in our handwashing techniques and mask usage, the thought of travel is indeed exciting. Preplanning your next trip may require some adjustments; though, so dedicate time now to navigate through these possible changes.
For persons with diabetes, COVID-19 related travel rules may alter your usual travel habits. Airline travel, for example, have truly limited in-flight service, scaling back food and drink options. Plan accordingly by packing portable meals to eat during the flight. Also consider rapid acting glucose tablets/gels for emergency usage, in case your access to food is somehow delayed. Most importantly, carry your medications (with copies of your prescriptions) and diabetes testing supplies in a carry-on piece of luggage. You will want to have access to your supplies at all times.
Be cognizant of time changes with travel. You may need to adjust medication schedules and meals upon arrival in a different time zone. Persons using insulin pumps should discuss travel plans with their medical provider beforehand, regarding a possible adjustment on insulin dosage and timing. It is also highly encouraged to bring extra medication and testing supplies, as different countries may use different types of supplies (finding an emergency replacement of your medication/ testing strips may be difficult).
Once you land in your vacation destination, jetlag may take over and cloud your better judgment. Proper nutrition is key to staying healthy while on vacation. Be sure and drink enough water to prevent dehydration; scope out healthy food choices in your vacation location, and avoid the urge to frequent fast food restaurants or all you can eat buffets. Also limit your intake of alcoholic beverages, as the sugary sweet cocktails and alcohol-based drinks may negatively affect your glucose levels. Most importantly, seek out ways to incorporate activity into your daily schedule. Sightseeing, swimming, hiking, and exploring your new surroundings are easy ways to incorporate daily exercise into your vacation schedule.
After traveling in a plane, or sitting in a car/bus for an extended period of time, your activity level is probably going to be much lower than normal. Inactivity, adjusted sleep schedules, altered meal options and more can all impact your glucose level. More frequent glucose monitoring may be required during the first few days of your vacation. Preplanning now will ensure a wonderful vacation.
Be safe & happy travels.