Friday, May 21, 2010

Diabetes Lifestyle: Making the Trip

If you have thoughtfully prepared for your trip or vacation, you have already completed the difficult part of the journey. In addition to careful preparation, however, there are a number of travel tips and strategies that will make your journey a breeze.

If you are traveling by car:

  • Be sure to keep your supplies with you, rather than stowing them in the car trunk as extreme temperatures can damage insulin.

  • Carry snacks in case you cannot find an appropriate restaurant on the road.

If traveling by plane, consider the following:

  • Check in early and be at the gate ahead of time. This will help prevent being bumped from a flight, which can add addition scheduling issues to your daily insulin regimen.

  • Ask for aisle seat if you plan on taking insulin during the flight. This will give you easy access to the restroom.

  • If you are traveling eastward, the days become shorter, so less insulin may be required. Likewise, if heading to the west, the days will be longer and you may need more. It is wise to keep your wrist watch on your home time until you arrive. It may help avoid confusion and keep you on schedule.

  • Since the cabin is pressurized, do NOT inject air into your insulin dose prior to drawing it up into the syringe. The pressure makes it feel as though the plunger is pushing back (this is normal) and if you inject air, it can make it difficult to measure your dose correctly.

  • Stow your diabetes supplies aunder the seat in front of you, rather than the overhead compartment. This will prevent your supply bag being blocked or moved elsewhere on the plane where you cannot quickly locate it.

  • Double check that your meal is indeed the diabetic meal you requested upon booking the flight. Special meal request mix ups happen with high frequency due to last minute seat changes.

  • Since mealtimes may conflict with your normal schedule, you should keep snacks handy (in the same bag stowed at your feet.)

  • If traveling alone, discretely inform the flight attendant that you have diabetes. Explain that you are traveling alone and do not expect issues, but feel it is important to let someone else on the plane know in case of an emergency.

Finally, some general tips to remember:

  • Be sure to get up and move around every two hours. This will improve circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.

  • Make sure at least one person with you knows that you have diabetes, whether it is a friend, family member, work colleague or travel attendant.

  • People tend to walk a lot more when traveling, so be sure to wear comfortable diabetic shoes at all times.

  • Never walk around barefoot… even in the shower, at the beach or in a pool. Bare feet could easily result in cuts which risk infection.

  • Be vigilant with your diet. It can be difficult, but it is worth the extra effort. Stick to your diet specifications, and seek out meals low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol. Always stay away from street vendors.

  • Check you blood sugar levels frequently. Also, be sure to check upon arrival as jet lag can disorient you and it may be hard to tell if your blood sugar is high or low.

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