International travel with pump/cgm

Hi everyone,
I am heading to Paris and Istanbul in a few weeks, and since I haven’t travelled internationally post-9/11, nor with my pump and dexcom, I am wondering what to expect as far as airport security/customs/language issues. I am a bit nervous that some kind airport official in one of these places will not know or understand all of the supplies and things that I have on my person, and that I could have trouble in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, much less the medical jargon. Of course I will have a note from my doctor, but if it’s in English, it doesn’t do me much good for someone speaking French or Turkish. I’ve also heard you’re supposed to declare your supplies in customs?? Any advice or experiences you could share to help me prepare? Thanks in advance!

Hey Shelby76:

You've got nothing to worry about. I'm on planes about 50 weeks out of the year and at least 1/2 of that is international and never faced a significant issue. In fact, I'm writing this post from Hong Kong while on a current around the world trip. I use an Omnipod and a Dexcom, and carry backup MDI supplies, just in case. I guess the one "good" thing about the growing WW diabetes epidemic is that security officials everywhere recognize diabetic supplies. I have not had any problems anywhere, including France and Turkey. You don't need to declare anything at customs related to your diabetic supplies. The only place I've ever been questioned was in Korea when they wanted to see a copy of my prescriptions (which I carry on my iPhone) when I was boarding a flight back to the US.

Make sure you have your Dr's note, and a copy of your prescriptions helps. English is fine. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, there will always be officials who have a good understanding of English at international airports.

Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANT: make sure you have everything you need in your carry on - pods, insulin, MDI backup supplies (pens, syringes). MDI backups are key, since Pods do fail, and sometimes at the worst possible times. You can carry additional supplies in your checked baggage, but be sure to plan for the "worst case" so that you have everything you need in your carry on in case your checked baggage gets lost or stolen. Also, never pack insulin in a checked bag, or anything else that might be temperature sensitive - you have no idea if your luggage will end up on a cart in the direct sun, etc.

Follow the simple precautions I mention above and you will have a wonderful, stress-free trip.

All the best,


Actually, I have better "customer service" form staff at foreign airports than I've experienced in the USA. So many people in other parts of the world are bi-lingual (often speaking better English than a lot of Americans - yeah, I'm snarky). Anyway, if you are really concerned, make a list of statements you think are important, then on one of the translation services on the internet - print out French and Turkish translations. But I doubt you'll be in a place where there isn't an English speaker. Just remember to take twice as many (if not three ties as many - they're small)supplies as you think u=you'd use during a similar time period at home. If you are traveling with a friend, have some supplies in their carry-on as well.

In the USA you may run into TSA agents insisting that our devices can be exposed to the imaging technology. They can't . I would copy the title page and the warnings page of my owner's manuals to prove that you do indeed want the patdown. There is also a TSA hotline 8555-787-2227 where you can ask about the procedures of a particular US airport. I have found Mpls/St Paul to be professional, and have had infusion sets pulled out in San Diego - each airport is different.

Enjoy your travels.

As Christopher said, I never declare anything. They will see the pump and sensor and sometimes make me touch the pump and check my fingers. Do bring enough supplies. You can get them in some places but it is more trouble. I keep the pump and sensor running all the time and even go through the full body scanner without any problems. Medtronic has advised against that, but I have not had problems.

Oops, typo in the phone number 855-787-2227. I also have Rx copies, when on MDI, I cut the label off the box (box is too cumbersome).