Long Term Travel and Insulin Effectiveness

So I going on a backpacking holiday in a months time, traveling from Perth, Australia to Lima, Peru, then around places in South America for about 2 months or so.

Several problems however relating to me being an insulin dependent Type 1 Diabetic however. For reference, I use Apidra Solostar and Lantus Solostar disposable pens.

First off, travel time from Perth to Lima will be around 40+ hours. I’m planning to pack all my insulin I need for the trip into a FRIO style bag when on the move, then refrigerate the unopened insulin again on arrival at each hostel I will be staying at. During my trip, I will be moving from hostel to hostel, which will mean that sometimes, my insulin will be exposed to temperatures above normal refrigeration levels. My question is -** will the constant moving from place to place reduce the effectiveness of my insulin?**

Documents relating to my insulin say that it can be kept unrefrigerated at temperatures below 25 degrees celsius for up to 28 days, but do not detail whether this is constantly unrefrigerated or whether once you take it out, it can only last 28 days before it starts to lose effectiveness. If I’m moving the insulin in a out of a fridge every few days/week, will this lengthen the 28 day period?

Sorry for the long post, but I’d love to hear some experiences from others on this.

1 Like

Once you open the pens they do not recommend putting them back in the refrigerator… I’ve never understood why, and have often done it anyway-- but the 28 day recommendation is based on being at room temperature the entire time. I’ve used pens of novolog well beyond that, probably to about 45 days at room temperature without ever noticing any reduction in effectiveness. I have never been able to actually get any strait answer on to what extent re-refrigerating pens may extend their longevity.

Frio is good but they dont actually keep things near as cool as they claim in real world situations. They help a little, just don’t convince yourself they’re keeping things icy cool— in reality they’re slightly less effective than wrapping your insulin in a wet washcloth.

I’m not sure what the climate is like there but I imagine if yo use reasonable precautions to prevent any of the pens from encountering prolonged temperature extremes it should all work out fine. If it’s Hot there, a small 6-pack cooler with ice in it will keep anything you put in it cold for 24+ hours.

I would caution you to reconsider storing your insulin in hostel refrigerators. I assume that this is a refrigerator accessible to many hostel guests. If anyone were to intentionally or even unintentionally adjust the thermostat to below freezing, you could lose all your insulin in just a few hours. I would much rather take my chances with using room temperature insulin for two months than the vagaries of refrigeration shared with many other people.

I once froze about a dozen vials of insulin by accidentally rubbing up against a thermostat wheel in a crowded chest style refrigerator and rotating it to a freezing setting. I remember reading a story of one TuD member on a cruise ship that handed over their insulin supply to the ship’s infirmary for refrigeration and their whole insulin supply was frozen by mistake.

If I were traveling in this setting, I would take twice as much insulin as needed and pack it in two separate bags and forgo any effort to refrigerate. I would insure that the insulin was never left in a parked car in the sun.

1 Like

My wife and I are going to bird France for three weeks in May. I plan to put my Humolog and Lantus in one of the Frio things. Plan to tuck my stuff into any refrigerator I see…

We have birded Canada, Mexico and Iceland and I have never had any problem with insulin that has lost its strength. The worst thing about traveling is finding a salad or anything reasonable to eat.

Cheers guys, makes me feel a little less anxious about things now.

I’ve done a little more investigation, and found in major cities in Ecuador and Colombia, with a little work I should be able to get my Aprida and Lantus Solostar pens from pharmacies around the place if things go bad and it comes down to my buying new supplies.

I was actually the one with the frozen insulin experience on a cruise. In the end it pays to be defensive and to have multiple backups. Split your insulin into two batches. Don’t trust refrigerators or others with it. Plan out how to buy it in your destination(s). Bring prescriptions and find out which pharmacies are trustworthy. According to Sanofi, Lantus is available in 120 countries. And use a frio. I have had good experience and have several, they work as claimed but start to fail in very humid conditions.


Those small hotel room refrigerators are notoriously inconsistent. The last time I stayed in a hotel, I put a can of diet coke in one and it exploded. I was glad I didn’t have my insulin in there.

1 Like

Everyone has pretty well set your mind at ease (I’m so jealous @shane17 of your itinerary). BTW, you will be hitting cooler temps in NZ/Australia - since their summer will be over (or is it over now). I have only travelled to warmer climates for a total of a month - and rely on my Frio pack (have a few of them) to keep my juice of life in tip top shape. I know if you let the hostel know that you’re diabetic, they’ll keep it in their locked up fridge (not the general all purpose one that everyone uses). I could have done that in Vancouver back in December (stayed at Samsun in Vancouver - the best flipping hostel I’ve been too - and good beer in the pub at night that doesn’t drain the travel funds).

Take lots of pictures - and hopefully you post them somewhere for us to check out - and dream of travelling the world. I’ve never let my diabetes (had it for abit) stop me from globe trotting … it’s more the money bit that drags some of us down - and getting time off from the work place!!!

And for those of us getting that itch to travel - here’s a great website to get you drooling … Ytravel

1 Like

I travel from Washington, DC to New York (and vice versa) all the time. I use the “PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag” (http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/1/213355-packit-freezable-lunch-bag-black.html). Have also used it for a trip to Colorado and had no problems w/ TSA. Hope that helps!

Back in 2007 I spent the summer in London. Got there with no problems, but the next day I had a seriously scary insulin reaction. So, hope you don’t mind some extra friendly advice, but check your glucose often & take extra supplies. I tried buying lancets from a local pharmacy & idiots tried selling me alcohol pads.

Hello FatCatAnna,

Me too! Me too!

DKA this weekend and had great conversations with an MICU nurse about travel and food. I too, am half jealous and half happy for shane17. Great to see that Diabetes won’t stop any of us!!!